RP sales tax rate a fixture at 8.75
Cities in surrounding counties see rates rise a half-cent on April 1
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By Dave Williams  April 4, 2014 12:00 am

There was a bit of confusion on April 1 concerning the sales tax rate in Rohnert Park.

The city’s voters in November approved Measure A, an extension of the half-cent sales tax increase voted upon in 2010. 

Some believed the extension meant another half-cent increase in sales taxes. There is no sales tax increase. The sales rate holds steady at 8.75 percent, which places Rohnert Park’s rate at the same level as the cities of Santa Rosa, Cotati, Healdsburg and Sonoma. Sebastopol, at 9.0 percent, has the county’s highest sales tax rate.

Compared with cities in neighboring counties, Rohnert Park is on the high end of the tax chain.

To the south, Marin County cities Corte Madera, Fairfax, Greenbrae, Novato, Larkspur and San Anselmo all have 9.0 percent rates, while San Rafael has the highest rate of 9.25. Corte Madera, Larkspur, San Anselmo and San Rafael all had sales taxes increased by a half cent.

Each city in Napa County, to the east of Sonoma County, has a rate of 8.0, while to the north in Mendocino County, all the cities have tax rates of 7.625.

Even if taxes were to rise by a half-cent, some business owners in Rohnert Park said it would not make much of a difference. One such owner is Tom Stone of Sonoma Coast Divers on Commerce Boulevard, which sells scuba diving equipment.

“It doesn’t help the perception that Rohnert Park’s taxes are higher, especially if they got to the 9.25 range,” Stone said. “But with our business, it won’t be much of an impact because we’re a niche business. We’re one of only two scuba diving shops in Sonoma County. I could see where it might affect businesses that sell big-ticket items.”

Stone has owned his business for 16 years.

The owners of a business involved with home decorating on Commerce Boulevard said the current rate is about right and expressed relief the sales tax rate was less than several Marin County cities.

The business owner added, “Do you really think anyone is going to come to Rohnert Park just to save a couple of pennies? But I thought the presence of the casino would keep our taxes down because they are giving the city a lot of money.

Another business owner, who asked not to be identified, was vehemently against the initial tax increase in 2010. And he also had some pointed words for the Rohnert Park City Council.

“It’s ridiculous. They have a lot of money and they waste a lot of money,” he said. “It (sales tax extension) was the only thing on the ballot, and they kicked in the fear factor.”

Measure A will be in place indefinitely, or at least until voters overturn it or the Rohnert Park City Council votes to suspend it.

At the time it was approved, Rohnert Park was facing a General Fund deficit of $5 million. The deficit has been sliced to $1.4 million during a time when the city’s payroll decreased from 190 to 148 employees.

The previous city manager, Gabe Gonzalez, remaining deficit said the possibility of the city losing more than $3 million produced by Measure E would result in a negative impact on city services, such as road repairs, police and fire services as well as 911 calls and park maintenance. 

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