Voters approved 27 of the 45 local tax measures on the ballot November 7, including 10 sales tax increases. Five measures are too close to call based on preliminary vote totals, but four of the five will pass if the preliminary results hold up. You can view November's election results here.
Mentally Ill Voters
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. The proposal, Measure C, would have imposed a 1 percent sales tax increase to fund general city services.
Years ago, the city annexed Coalinga State Hospital, a mental health hospital under the jurisdiction of the state prison system that serves sexually violent predators and other inmates with mental health issues that make them unfit for the general prison system.
There are 304 active voters registered in the hospital, and one of the patients strongly advocated a “no” vote. Patient Jeff Gambord told The Fresno Bee that he and fellow patients opposed the tax for a variety of reasons, “including the fact that it would force them to pay a couple pennies extra for a cheeseburger in the cafeteria.”
Targeted Tax in Carson
In the city of Carson, voters approved a tax that was placed on the ballot by the Carson City Council and was promoted actively by the city, raising complaints about the use of tax dollars to campaign for the measure.
After declaring a fiscal emergency August 7, the City Council voted unanimously to place on the ballot Measure C, a targeted tax that imposes a 0.25 percent gross receipts tax on any businesses engaged in the oil and gas industry.
City officials argued the tax would bring in an additional $24 million annually, and noted that several surrounding cities already impose this type of tax on oil businesses.
CalTax opposed the measure, stating, “The city’s pursuit of a gross receipts tax to raise revenue would result in a tax that is not transparent, fair or competitively neutral.”
The city’s campaign included a full-color campaign-style mailer – titled “The Facts About Measure C” – that provided many thinly disguised arguments in favor of the tax, and none in opposition. The mailer included a headline, “Keeping Carson Financially Strong,” and a statement that “Carson Residents Will Not Pay One Penny in New Taxes if Measure C Is Approved.”
CalTax noted during the campaign that the tax can be passed onto end-use consumers in part or in whole, resulting in a hidden tax on the price of fuel or other petroleum products that aren’t exempted by the measure.
Measure C passed with 72 percent of the vote.
The CalTax table of all local tax elections in 2017 will be updated online as results are certified by local elections officials.
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