Cotati to deal with tax issue
Council to hold public hearing on whether or not to place sales tax measure on June ballot
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By Dave Williams  February 21, 2014 12:00 am

Anyone in Cotati supporting or opposing the extension and expansion of Measure A, passed by voters in 2010, has a chance to voice their opinion to the Cotati City Council at the next meeting scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 25 at 7 p.m.

The purpose of the meeting is for the council to consider adopting resolutions placing a one-cent general transactions and sales tax before the voters at a special election and adopting a resolution calling for a special municipal election on June 3.

The tax would sunset (expire) after nine years unless it is extended by a majority vote of the voters.

Measure A has been credited with allowing Cotati to maintain its police department as well as providing funds for general services within the city. If Measure A expired and an extension rejected by the voters, the Cotati council, according to City Manager Dianne Thompson, would have no choice other than to implement severe reductions in city services and the potential elimination of the police department. Measure A is scheduled to expire in 2015.

A survey of citizens was conducted in November concerning the financial state of the city. The survey, by public opinion research firm FM3 Research, showed that two of three respondents would support a measure to replace the city’s existing sales tax with a one-cent tax in order to maintain the Cotati Police Dept. and ensure the city’s fiscal stability. The survey had a margin of error of plus/minus 5.9 percent.

“To prevent the need to contract with the county for police services and maintain our current law enforcement staffing it is critical that Cotati have a local revenue source that cannot be taken by Sacramento or Washington,” said Police Chief Michael Parish. “Our residents want to ensure local funds are available so that we can effectively do our jobs to prevent and investigate property crime and keep the Cotati community safe.”

The city staff, during a brief presentation to the council on Feb. 11, produced a chart showing projected losses in revenue following the expiration of Measure A should voters reject the tax extension. For fiscal year 2016-17, the loss would be a little more than $1 million. That total would jump to close to $3 million for 2017-18 and near $5 million for 2018-19.

This issue of the one-cent tax probably won’t be as divisive as other issues in Cotati such as roundabouts or whether or not to allow Lucky Supermarket to build in the city. But don’t expect things to be gushingly harmonious either, as some who oppose the tax have already been out passing out anti-tax literature.

There were only three – Greg Karraker, Patty Minnis and George Barich – who spoke out in opposition of the sales tax at the last council meeting. Tuesday, however, expect a few more speakers, whether its pro or against.


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