On Wednesday evening, the city council will vote on a proposed sales tax ballot measure essentially deciding whether to give the residents of Bakersfield the opportunity to pay more to their local government.
Here’s city hall’s pitch.
Unless voters approve a one percent sales tax increase in November, Bakersfield’s public safety services could face cuts.
“If this goes on unabated, we expect that eventually we will have to get in the position of leaving vacant police positions vacant and further cuts and delays in response times to citizen requests,” said Bakersfield City Manager Alan Tandy.
Tandy says the tax hike will bring in an additional $50 million a year.
“It could let us add 75-100 sworn police officers and associated civilian complement…it could allow us to restore an economic development program we lost…we would like to get back to that,” said Tandy.
The sales tax increase would jump from the current 7.25 percent to 8.25 percent.
So what does this mean for you?
Let’s say you’re trying to buy a computer. If a computer costs $500, under the current tax you’ll pay about $36 in tax and under the new proposed tax the computer will cost about $41 extra in tax.
City Councilman Andrae Gonzales points out the new tax revenue will go directly into Bakersfield’s pockets.
“So that whole one percent won’t go to Sacramento, it will stay right here in our community,” said Gonzales.
Tandy says concerns new tax revenue will go right to large pension costs are exaggerated.
“Will there be money going to pensions? Yes,” acknowledged Tandy.
He noted the ballot measure explicitly identifies public safety and homelessness at targets for improvement.
Tandy said the ballot language “absolutely” reflected the city’s promise of priorities.
However on Kern County in Depth, Michael Turnipseed of Kern Taxpayers Association said the ballot language was disconcerting.
“We just want to make sure that these moneys are invested and not consumed,” said Turnipseed.
It should be noted the ballot would exempt sales tax from certain items such as groceries, prescription medications, and health care items.