BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — It was soundly rejected four years ago by voters in Kern County but now there is a new push to pass a one-cent sales tax increase.
A cautious Board of Supervisors gave the green light Tuesday to start the process anew.
If it makes it to the ballot, only voters who live in unincorporated areas of the county would vote on it. It will only affect transactions within the county’s unincorporated areas, places in the county but not inside any city limits.
It’s a proposal that voters shot down four years ago but 5th District Supervisor Leticia Perez says times have changed.
“I believe something more needs to be done,” Perez said. “We need to take greater local control for our financial future.”
Other supervisors were hesitant to even talk about a tax increase but ultimately voted to put the conversation on next week’s agenda. That’s when they’ll decide whether to put the question on November’s ballot. Even that tentative step took some convincing from community leaders.
“Right now we are stretched so thin,” Kern County District Attorney Cynthia Zimmer said. “We have less prosecutors now than we had in 2016 we have 97 of them in 2016 today we have 75.”
“The sheriff’s office currently has 125 vacant deputy positions, 122 vacant detention deputy positions and 111 non sworn positions and these numbers are growing on a weekly basis,” Doug Jauch the undersheriff for Kern County Sheriff’s Office said.
If passed, this one-cent sales tax proposal will increase the tax from 7.25% to 8.25% for sales in unincorporated areas but it will need a majority vote to pass.
“Folks that live in the unincorporated areas of Bakersfield and the metro area they’re going into Bakersfield to do their shopping so they’re paying an extra cent,” 2nd District Supervisor Zack Scrivner said.
All the supervisors, except for 3rd District Supervisor Mike Maggard, who was absent, voted to consider a proposed ballot measure next Tuesday. While this vote passed, Scrivner said this might not be the right time for it.
“I think the difficult question right now is a question of timing,” Scrivner said. “We’re seeing inflation.. they’re seeing it in the grocery store and gas prices are through the roof.”
County supervisors will revisit the tax increase issue next Tuesday.