Santa Barbara County to Poll Public on Support for Three Potential Tax Measures

Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors discussing polling for potential tax increases on October 10, 2023 [Screenshot from CSBTV]

Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors voted to conduct a public poll to gauge support for three potential tax measures that could be included on the November 2024 ballot.

The county aims to raise approximately $15 million for general purposes or nearly $8 million for specific uses through these measures. One proposed tax would be applied to every parcel, while the other two options would increase the sales tax rate, which has not been raised since 2010.

The polling will be conducted by the consulting firm FM3 Research and will cost about $80,000.

The Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 Tuesday to authorize the polling, with Supervisors Bob Nelson and Steve Lavagnino dissenting while expressing interest in the poll results.

Nelson stated he feels his constituents would not support a general tax increase due to a perceived lack of services in proportion to the taxes paid. He emphasizes the need for the county to foster business growth and reduce regulatory barriers to attract investments and provide more job opportunities.

Lavagnino shared Nelson’s resistance to increasing the sales tax, expressing his belief that inflation is already burdening residents. Instead, he advocates for directing funds towards revenue-generating projects such as the approved improvements to the Cachuma Lake RV park.

The polling aims to assess county residents’ support for the potential tax measures. Based on the results, the Board of Supervisors may decide to place one of the measures on the ballot, allowing the county to allocate additional funds for ongoing and future projects, including emergency response efforts.

Currently, county revenues are barely keeping pace with necessary expenses, according to Brittany Odermann, deputy county executive officer.

The potential tax measures include an increase in the unincorporated area sales tax for general purposes, a countywide sales tax increase, and a countywide parcel tax for special purposes, such as funding libraries. Each measure would require different voting thresholds for placement on the ballot and implementation.

The countywide sales tax currently stands at 7.75% in the unincorporated areas, joining the City of Buellton as the lowest in the county. An increase of 0.25% or 1% could generate additional revenue of approximately $3.77 million or $15.08 million, respectively. Consideration is also given to an increase in the countywide special-use sales tax and a special-purpose parcel tax, which could yield nearly $7.6 million and around $8 million, respectively.

The Santa Barbara County Library system, which has struggled with funding since 2010, is a key focus of the potential tax measures. The proposed special-purpose taxes would be allocated exclusively to libraries, providing resources and support.

The poll results hope to provide valuable insights and aid in decision-making for the county’s future projects and financial management.

The discussion can be viewed below through CSBTV at 6:59:39.

Edhat Staff

Written by Edhat Staff

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    This will affect low to middle income families the most. Many of us are barely scraping by as it is with the high cost of housing and goods. So just… stop and enjoy your $300k/year salary that we already pay you all.

  2. Get this.

    Das, Capps and Hartman want to increase taxes so they can “go easy” on their pet projects and shift money away from the public view.

    For years cannabis taxes haven’t been what they should be. That’s because Das and others have not been held accountable and have been lining their pockets with kickbacks.

    I’m not sure what skin in the game Capps and Hartman have because I have not observed them at the BOS meetings enough.

    But the three of them are crooked for wanting to raise taxes while homeless populate our streets, cannabis runs wild in the county and roads across the board need maintenance, all while the parks and public spaces have been declining more and more each year. Those of them that are still open, that is.

    They are in for a reckoning when it’s voting season.

  3. In Independent article last April, the county specifically said they want to add a new tax to make up for the drop off in cannabis tax revenue. So the tax payer will soon be on the hook to support the expanded county spending that occurred during the brief cannabis tax revenue euphoria a few years ago.

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