Auburn City Council members put off a vote to officially add a 1-cent sales tax increase on the November ballot Monday night, directing staff to provide more specifics.
The current sales tax in Auburn is 7.25 percent, with 6 percent going to the state, 0.25 percent going to Placer County and 1 percent going to the city of Auburn. The council is considering a 1-percent increase, bringing the local sales tax up to 8.25 percent. The proposal also included a sunset of the tax after seven years.
Police Chief Ryan Kinnan said in an interview with the Auburn Journal, “We’ve done a lot of research for the last 18 months, looked at resources. We were reduced by mid-20 percent in resources and haven’t recovered since the last recession. The community is asking for more resources. If we don’t get this, we’ll just sit down at the table and find ways. It was important we did our due diligence to find out what the community would want. We have a lot going on in our country right now, a lot going on in our region. We still have fire to contend with and crime to contend with.”
Polling data was supportive of the tax. The poll shows 218 registered voters in Auburn favor a sales tax that would raise an estimated $2.5 million per year to fund public works, public safety, fire prevention and response. City staff estimated it would cost $100 per year per resident.
Council members said they want to be very specific about what they intend to spend additional sales tax revenue on but cannot be specific, legally speaking, if they pursue general-use tax. To be specific on the spending plan would indicate they need to place a special tax on the ballot, which takes a two-thirds voter support to pass rather than a simple majority required for a general-use tax.
It will cost the city $12,000 to put the general-use tax on the November ballot, according to City Clerk Amy Lind. The city has until July 1 to place it on the November ballot. The next city council meeting is June 22.
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By Traci newell and bill poindexter
June 9, 2020