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Tuolumne County Putting Sales Tax And TOT Increases On Ballot

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Sonora, CA — The Tuolumne County Supervisors voted today to move toward placing a measure on the March of 2020 primary ballot that would increase the sales tax from the current 7.25-percent to 8.25-percent and the Transient Occupancy Tax from the current 10-percent to 14-percent.

It would only impact the un-incorporated areas of Tuolumne County (outside the city limits of Sonora). It has been widely reported that Tuolumne County is taking steps to close a structural budget deficit. The sales tax would be on goods purchased and the TOT increase would impact hotel and RV visitors.

The county hired an outside firm to conduct a poll between August 12-19, using a web survey, landlines and cell phones. 403 likely voters were interviewed.

The results note that 74-percent of respondents see a need for additional county funding, 48-percent do not believe the county’s finances are “generally well-managed,” 60-percent offer initial support for a Transient Occupancy Tax Increase and 65-percent support a sales tax increase.

The proposal to move toward placing both items on the March of 2020 ballot was moved by Supervisor John Gray and seconded by Supervisor Sherri Brennan. The vote was 4-1, with Supervisor Anaiah Kirk the lone opposition.

Board Chair Karl Rodefer stated, “This is not something that any of us really want to have to do, but we have to.” He stated that expenses are outpacing revenues, and the state is often increasing mandated services that the county is required to fund.

During the comment period, Supervisor Kirk expressed concerns about the state having a $21-billion surplus while counties like Tuolumne are struggling. He argued that the county should have a meeting with the Governor’s Office, similar to a recent sit down with Insurance Commissioner Ricardo Lara about fire insurance, to explain the burdens the state is placing on counties.