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Local Sales Tax Measure Directives Given By Supervisors

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Sonora, CA — Next week the Tuolumne County Board of Supervisors will take the first of two required votes to place a sales tax measure on the November ballot.

At a special meeting on Tuesday, the board gave some final direction to staff who are writing up the details.

The proposal would raise the sales tax from the current 7.25% to 8.25%. The county is also looking to put a second, non-binding question on the ballot, asking if it is the preference of the voters that the new money be prioritized on law enforcement, fire services and roads.

Supervisors Anaiah Kirk, Jaron Brandon, and David Goldberg were in the support of adding the second question, and Supervisors Kathleen Haff and Ryan Campbell were opposed, indicating that they feel it is unnecessary. Supervisor Campbell added that it would create a layer of confusion if the tax measure passes, and the second question is voted down.

A few community members raised concerns about the tax measure during the public comment portion of the meeting, and urged the county to live within its means, as local residents are becoming more and more financially stressed.

Some board members stated that failing to pass the tax measure would likely have big detrimental impacts on non-emergency services.

District Three Supervisor Anaiah Kirk indicated that this is the last time he is willing to vote in favor of sending a tax measure to the ballot, as similar attempts have failed in the past. Kirk noted, “Maybe the time is coming in government where we fund fire and law enforcement, and that’s it,” adding that he is prepared to make cuts, and hopes that new members coming next year, are too.

Several of the board members were also critical of social media comments in the community and people saying that county government is wasteful.

Supervisor Jaron Brandon stated, “When you talk about waste, and just going down to basics, know that you are talking about not just public safety, but library and recreation programs. You are talking about the staff who are handling the building permits and are able to do that in an expedited fashion.”

Brandon said the previous board, prior to 2020, was “very conservative and Republican,” and they also came to the conclusion that long-term expenditures are outpacing revenues.

Local government was boosted by things like COVID relief funding, and fire grants, over the past couple of years, to bridge the revenue gap.

Other board members also emphasized concerns about having to cut services like libraries and recreation, if the measure fails.

The first reading and formal vote (to send to the tax measure to ballot) will be on June 18 and the final vote will come next month. If approved by voters in November, it would bring in around $6 million in new revenue to county government.