Lassen County residents will determine the fate of a proposed .75 cent increase in the state sales tax rate at the June 5 Primary Election Ballot.
The Lassen County Board of Supervisors approved the sales tax proposal and its accompanying non-binding, advisory-only measure — using the funding from the proposed increase for public safety — language that raised concerns from Lassen County Auditor Diana
Wemple. She said the county is already spending one-time funds on public safety.
At previous public meetings where the issue was discussed, members of the public have asked that the money raised from the sales tax increase go directly to public safety. The supervisors pointed out the current proposal only requires a majority vote. If the funding is earmarked for a specific purpose, it is a special tax that would require a 66.67 percentage vote to pass — a significantly higher threshold. But the supervisors approved the advisory-only measure in an effort to assure some residents who believe the sales tax increase would go the county’s general fund to pay salaries for highly paid county officials.
The proposed tax would raise about $2.1 million annually, and public officials from both the city and the county say the revenue generated by the sales tax increase will help these governmental entities remain solvent.
Lassen County currently has a 7.25 percent sales tax rate and with the increase the new sales tax rate would be 8 percent. Currently when the tax is collected, 6 cents from every 7.25 cents collected goes to the state, 1 cent goes to local jurisdictions and .25 cents to the local transportation fund.
So what about the city?
City and county officials are still trying to come up with a tax-sharing agreement, and in the meantime, on Feb. 21 the city of Susanville introduced its own .5 cent city retail tax measure as a contingency plan.
Lassen County is well know for its conservative principles, and some voters may oppose any tax increase on those grounds.
But this tax is different.
While most of the taxes we pay are imposed by far away governmental bodies with little or no input from or consideration to and by local citizens, this sales tax increase is our call. The decision on this sales tax proposal is completely ours, and we encourage voters to carefully study the issue so they can make an informed decision on June 5.
We need to take part in the discussions by both the Lassen County Board of Supervisors and the Susanville City Council regarding this sales tax increase. We need to inform ourselves on the issue so we can make an informed decision come the June 5 Primary Election.
As Lassen County Supervisor Aaron Albaugh said at last week’s supervisors’ meeting — “Let the voters decide.”
Come June 5 the voters will decide this issue one way or the other.