Update Nov. 4: The previous headline for this story was “About 60% of registered SLO voters are in favor of Measure G so far.” We included “city” in the title because only SLO city residents could vote for Measure G, not all SLO county residents.
Measure G, a 1% sales tax increase, is the only local measure that residents in the city of San Luis Obispo voted on this year.
As of 11:13 p.m., about 64% of registered voters have cast their ballots in San Luis Obispo County. All 12 precincts in the city of San Luis Obispo have been counted for, and vote-by-mail ballots still need to be counted for.
Based on the results so far, residents are in favor of Measure G-20 with about 59.6% of “Yes” votes and 40.3% “No.”
If the measure passes, a $10 item will cost 13 cents more than it would at our current tax rate of 7.75%. Sales tax will increase to 8.75% in April 2021 if voters vote “Yes.”
If voters vote “No” on Measure G, the city sales tax will remain at 7.75% until March 2023, and it will then drop to 7.25% unless another sales tax is introduced and passed by voters.
The city projects that the measure would bring in about $21 million per year into the city’s general fund.
City Council said that the tax revenue from Measure G would be used to fund infrastructure, public safety, clean creeks and parks, assistance for the homeless, programs for youth and seniors and support for small businesses.
People who oppose Measure G said they are concerned the money will not be spent wisely, as City Council can use general funds for any purpose they approve. Attorney Stewart Jenkins said he also opposes the tax, because it is considered a regressive tax.
“There’s nothing wrong with taxes, they’re what we pay for a civilized society,” Jenkins said. “But the most regressive tax that hits poor people and working people the hardest is the sales tax.”
Cal Poly economics professor Jon James said while this is true, he said he does not believe that a 1% increase will significantly impact low-income residents. Sales tax in California counties ranges from 7.25 to 10.25%, according to the California website.
Financial advisor Lance Parker, who opposes Measure G, said he believes the city would not need this money if the local government managed it responsibly.
“It’s a way of allowing the city to continue their fiscal irresponsibility,” Parker said.
He also said city executives are paid too much, and the city shouldn’t be spending money on things like parks, school programs and housing.
Chris Richardson, president of Richardson Properties, said he supports the sales tax increase because there is a need in the community for small business support and environmental upkeep.
“This is a mechanism and a vehicle and a tool to continue to enhance this place that we all love,” Richardson said. “Without having resources you can’t address problems, you can’t make improvements, you can’t build for the future.”
Councilmember Erica A. Stewart said that the city proposed the measure after locals said in community surveys what they wanted money spent on. She also said the city has lost about $8.6 million in revenue this year, and this measure would help make up for that.
There is no expiration date for this sales tax, but residents may petition for the measure to be put back on the ballot if they don’t like how the money is being managed, according to Stewart.
There will be two elections before the current local 0.5% sales tax expires.