Local Taxes:
Coalinga Sues Fresno County Over Prisoners’ Votes on Tax Measure

As reported in the November 21 edition of the CalTaxletter, a sales tax measure in the city of Coalinga failed by just 33 votes, and voters confined to a mental hospital in the city claimed credit for killing the tax. Now, the Coalinga City Council is suing Fresno County in an attempt to void the election result, arguing that hospital residents technically are residents of the county they lived in before their arrest, and therefore should not have been allowed to vote in the city election.

The tax proposal, Measure C, would have imposed a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund general city services. There are 304 active voters registered in the Coalinga State Hospital, and one of the patients strongly advocated a “no” vote for a variety of reasons, including the potential price increase for a cheeseburger in the hospital’s cafeteria.

The hospital, which serves sexually violent predators and other inmates with mental health issues that make them unfit for the general prison system, was annexed many years ago to boost the city’s population numbers, reportedly to make the city more attractive to outside businesses.


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