Healdsburg City Council asking voters for a half-cent sales tax increase in November.
After some debate over details, council agreed to request that City Manager Marjie Pettus look at language for placing a measure to increase the sales tax by a half-cent on the Nov. 4 general elections ballot.
If approved, city sales tax would rise from its current 8 percent to 8.5 percent. The measure will include council accountability through the means of an annual report on how the money is spent.
Council also heard some potential bad news about more losses of redevelopment money. City Finance Director Heather Ippoliti said that the State of California might deny an earlier Superior Court judgment over redevelopment agency funding.
If that happens, Healdsburg could have to repay $2.5 million in redevelopment money that has already been spent on various projects. However, it may be months before the council will know the legal ramifications of the state’s move.
City Assistant Manager David Mickaelian said that a number of cities throughout California are considering litigation against the state on the issue.
Earlier this month, Ippoliti said the city for its former redevelopment agency.
Meanwhile, discussion over the sales tax was focused on several options. said he favored two separate quarter-cent ballot measures with a five-year sunset clause.
One of the two quarter-cent sales taxes Chambers proposed would have required a two-thirds majority vote to allocate funds only to street and sidewalk improvements. His second measure would have applied to the general fund.
Chambers was outvoted by , who favored the half-cent general fund measure that requires only 51 percent voter approval.
“It’s not with great pleasure we look at adding a sales tax,” said Wood. “But if you at the huge hit we took from redevelopment, the core services needed, the decline in the economy, the take-aways from the state…we’re at a crossroads.
“The ballot measure offered by the governor does nothing for cities,” Wood continued
Mayor Gary Plass said he favored the half-cent general fund measure, but suggested a seven-year sunset clause.
Plass also asserted that more voter education was necessary on the need for the tax increase. (see video attached to this story).
Council also approved preliminary budgets for several departments and was unanimous in its praise of city staff and their hard work in tough economic times with smaller staffs and heightened work loads.
Several councilmembers expressed their appreciation of the work done by Pettus, Ippoliti, Electric Utility Director Terry Crowley and Public Works Director Mike Kirn
The drawn-out meeting also included a detailed look at the various public works budget funds—street, water, wastewater, drainage and electric.
Only had questions regarding the budgets. Amato, one of Healdsburg’s most vocal residents, was concerned about budgetary shortfalls and whether they would continue to grow into the future.
In addition, Amato was concerned that wages plus benefit proportions didn’t match up within each of the various budget categories.
Ippoliti assured the council and Amato that the budgets were following a carefully constructed plan and that fund allocation came from different accounts, so only the overall budget would reflect the consistency Amato desired.