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San Luis Obispo considering increasing sales tax

Posted at 6:25 PM, Dec 12, 2019

San Luis Obispo is one of many cities in the county looking at a potential sales tax increase.

The city conducted a survey of more than 400 voters and 63% of them said they would support a sales tax increase from 7.75% to 8.75%

While the city council hasn't decided to put the sales tax proposal on the 2020 ballot yet, some business owners are unsure about the idea.

"We would take a hit for sure. One percent is a big deal but I would be for it if we could totally see improvement out on the street, on the buildings, infrastructure. That would be super important,” said Christine Branco, Unique Selections owner.

If the sales tax jumped to 8.75%, a $50 item at Branco’s store would come out to $54.38 but if the sales tax stayed the same,that $50 item would cost a customer $53.86.

The city says if the council puts the measure on the 2020 ballot and it is passed, the extra revenue would be put toward items the community deems important.

"Things like creek protection, things like public safety, things like open space. People want to be able to move around the city,” said Derek Johnson, San Luis Obispo City Manager.

Surveyed residents also said addressing homelessness was an important issue.

While businesses might have their reservations about a sales tax increase, the city says they will be working with business owners on how they can help support them.

"We know that business owners need things like a clean downtown, a safe downtown. They want to see a high level of service so that when guests, visitors, or residents come and shop in the downtown or in any of our commercial areas, that they have an amazing experience,” said Johnson.

Johnson says after continued community feedback the plan is to come back to the council with a summary in late spring or early summer before they decide on the next steps.

If the city council does place the measure on the 2020 ballot, it would need support from more than 50% of voters to be passed.