PASO ROBLES — The City Council will discuss placing a tax measure on the November ballot at Thursday’s meeting.
Following the Fourth of July weekend, the Council is meeting at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, July 9, instead of Tuesday. City Council meetings are being held via teleconference due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will be live-streamed and available to play later on YouTube.
Council will not be deciding if a general-purpose tax measure will be added to the ballot. Instead, they will only advise staff whether to bring it back for a formal vote at their July 21 meeting. Placement of a measure on the November 2020 ballot would cost approximately $33,000.
According to the agenda packet, the City is needing to find additional revenue as it is forecasting a drop of approximately $5 million over the next couple of years due to the economic repercussions of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“All City programs and services have already been reduced, starting with the Great Recession that started in 2008, to a degree that is challenging to sustain,” the staff report states. “The fiscal impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic significantly exacerbate existing fiscal challenges and put the City at risk of having to reduce essential services to potentially dangerous levels if alternative action is not taken.”
City staff stated the measure is the result of extensive community conversation, which included surveys, questionnaires, reviews of social media threads, presentations with question-and-answer sessions, and other interactions. They determined the highest priorities were — fire and emergency staffing; police staffing; street repair and maintenance; economic development; and social services.
“Initial community interest in a potential local funding measure appears strong,” the staff report stated. “The City has completed several surveys of voters regarding funding priorities. However, in these difficult economic times, asking people to voluntarily increase their taxes will be very challenging. The City has created an advisory panel of key community leaders. That panel has weighed the pros and cons; its members are recommending that the City seriously consider a ballot measure in November.”
Sales tax measures are generally half-cent and 1-cent increments, but the Council could consider other options as well. Of these two options, staff’s preference is 1 cent.
A half-cent measure would generate up to $5 million annually, while a 1-cent measure would generate up to $10 million. The 1-cent increase would bring the sales tax rate in the City to 8.75%.
There are two types of tax measures the City could pursue. A special tax, in which the proceeds can be used only for identified purposes, requires a two-thirds-plus-one approval vote in November.
A general tax measure, in which proceeds can be used for any of the City’s programs and activities, requires a 50 percent-plus-one approval vote in November.
Also on the agenda are two public hearings and adoption of the Niblick Road Corridor Plan.
One of the public hearings is for an appeal of a Planning Commission variance for six short-term rentals at the nearly complete Market Walk project at 1803 Spring St. Staff is recommending Council deny the request due to Market Walk plans being submitted before the City’s short-term rental ordinance was implemented.
The second public hearing is for an amendment to the City’s CalPERS contract for the City’s tier 1 miscellaneous members, and tier 1 and tier 2 police safety and fire safety members. If approved, it will allow these tiers to begin contributing an additional 2 percent toward retirement contract costs as authorized by Government Code.
To view the complete agenda, visit online prcity.com.