Wednesday, November 26, 2014     Volume: 15, Issue: 37
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Santa Maria Sun / News

The following article was posted on June 17th, 2014, in the Santa Maria Sun - Volume 15, Issue 15 [ Submit a Story ]
The following articles were printed from Santa Maria Sun [santamariasun.com] - Volume 15, Issue 15

Guadalupe attempts to stave off bankruptcy with three tax measures

BY AMY ASMAN

The Guadalupe City Council will vote June 24 on whether to put a third tax initiative on the November ballot in an effort to cover the city’s $1.3 million budget gap.

This initiative would add a half-cent sales tax to transactions within city limits, thus increasing the sales tax from 8 percent to 8.5 percent.

City Manager Andrew Carter told the Sun he proposed a half-cent increase—as opposed to a quarter-cent, like in the city of Santa Maria—because “we have a very tiny sales tax base in Guadalupe.”

On June 10, council members sent the proposed tax hike back to staffers asking them to add a six-year sunset clause. They also approved a ballot initiative that would remove a $2,250 cap on user taxes for water, electric, gas, and telephone services.

“It’s a very unusual cap. I’m not aware of any other city in this area that has one,” Carter said. He estimates the cap removal will affect only one business in town, Apio, which packs and sells vegetable party trays.

The second council-approved initiative proposes changing the city’s business licensing fees from fixed rates of $60, $90, and $120, depending on the type of business, to 50 cents per $1,000 of sales.

“The minimum license would cost $100 for a home occupancy business or a business with no fixed place in town,” Carter said.

Licenses for fixed location businesses would cost $200 or more, depending on sales.

Several business owners attended the June 10 meeting to voice their disapproval of the increased costs, saying they would place an unnecessary burden on local businesses.

All three of the initiatives would require 50 percent plus one approval to pass. Carter estimates that, if approved, the three tax measures would bring in approximately $350,000.

“That’s about half of our budget gap. The rest we would cover through budget cuts and employee concessions,” he said. “Unless we can increase our general fund revenue, we’re going to have to disband our local police force and fire department and contract with the county.”

Currently, Guadalupe Fire Department engines are staffed with two captains and one paid-call firefighter, who gets $25 for a 12-hour shift and $60 for a 24 shift. One of the department’s firefighters also serves as the city’s building permit technician.