Cotati council clears way for tax increase
Sales tax rate of 9.25 percent goes into effect Oct. 1; Barich objects to city’s election tactics
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By Dave Williams  July 11, 2014 12:00 am

The Cotati City Council at its meeting on Tuesday, July 8, took the necessary steps to make sure the half-cent sales tax increase goes into effect on Oct. 1.

To do so, the council first had to adopt a motion to receive and file the Sonoma County Clerk’s official statement of votes cast at the city’s special municipal election on June 3, in which Measure G (the sales tax increase) was passed. Then, the council had to adopt a resolution declaring the results of the special election to affirm the voters’ approval of Measure G.

The county clerk’s official vote tally was 922 votes for Measure A and 808 against. The measure needed a simple majority to pass.

The final three steps were: adopting a resolution authorizing City Manager Dianne Thompson to execute agreements with the State Board of Equalization (SBOE) for the implementation of a local transaction and use tax; adopt a resolution authorizing the examination of sales or transaction and use tax records; and adopt an urgency ordinance rescinding Ordinance No. 825, which was passed by voters in 2010 and increased sales tax a half cent to the current level of 8.75. 

Measure A was scheduled to expire in 2015. The new 9.25 tax rate, which takes hold Oct. 1, is scheduled to expire after nine years.

The SBOE is the state agency responsible for administering all of the state and locally imposed sales, transaction and use taxes.

According to a city staff report, the additional transaction tax revenue projections from Measure G for Fiscal Year 2014-15 are estimated at $600,000. 

This is a lower estimated amount in the first fiscal year because of implementing the additional .5 percent increase in October for only nine months, one-time SBOC adjustments and a conservative estimate of the impact of other regional retail development. 

In future years, the report said, the annual added amount is projected to be between $850,000 and $900,000. 

At the mid-year budget review in February 2015, the impact of other retail development will be reflected in the SBOE reports and a revised estimate will be developed.

Even though the votes have been certified and declared official by the county, one Cotati resident refuses to accept the passage of Measure G.

“I’d like to launch a formal opposition to the passage of this measure for the record, based on this city’s misinformation that was publicized to the community regarding the half-cents sales tax increase,” said George Barich, a former Cotati councilman who was recalled in 2009.

Barich said the city was fraudulent in using General Fund resources for purely campaign purposes to pass the measure.

“I want to lodge those (complaints) on the record for future litigation,” he said.

Barich came under fire during the last election cycle for distributing a flier featuring pictures and quotes from past and present city council members and other Cotati citizens. 

Those highlighted in the flier claim the quotes attributed to them were not true, and some have threatened legal action.

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