The San Luis Obispo City Council unanimously approved the placement of a half-cent sales tax increase measure on the November 7 ballot.
If adopted by voters, the general purpose half-cent sales tax would provide approximately $4.5 million for San Luis Obispo. This additional revenue would be put towards community services such as neighborhood street paving, police protection, fire and paramedic services, traffic congestion relief and creek and flood protection.
“People are talking about this,” Councilman Paul Brown said. “I’m not going to view the voters as children. I think that they’ve taken the time to educate themselves, so I don’t feel that we as a council need to protect them. . I respect the voters.”
Though speakers at the July 18 city council meeting were largely in favor of the measure, Cal Poly students weren’t as eager to accept it.
“I’m not exactly sure how this will impact Cal Poly,” said ASI Board of Directors Chairman Jared Samarin. “I know a good number of students aren’t registered to vote in San Luis Obispo County, but they’ll still be required to pay the sales tax.”
The county’s current sales tax is 7.25 percent – the lowest sales tax allowed by the state. The proposed increase would bring the sales tax to 7.75 percent, which is less than what 85 percent of Californians pay.
“I think it is reasonable to raise the sales tax to keep up with the rest of the state, but I am not sure I agree with the argument that more tax money is needed in our county,” said psychology and art senior Dawn Schoennauer. “I think we need to look carefully at how we allocate the tax money.”
Other students said they were neutral on the issue.
“Being a college student, my purchases really aren’t extreme enough for the sales tax to affect my budget that much,” business junior Emily Considine said. Most students seemed to share her view on the proposed tax hike.
Arroyo Grande, Morro Bay, Atascadero and Grover Beach have already placed measures on their ballots, while Paso Robles has decided against a tax increase. Pismo Beach is considering adding the measure to its ballot.
To put the measure in perspective, a half-cent increase would add a sales tax of $5 to a $1,000 purchase.