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SLO County cities gauging potential voter support of sales tax increase

Posted at 5:44 PM, Nov 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-14 22:03:33-05

The 2020 elections are less than a year away and local city leaders are already considering tax measures.

The City of Grover Beach hired a consultant for $30,000 to survey residents on what they like and don't like about public services.

The city says the survey gathered more than 300 responses from a random yet demographically-representative sample of the community.

One of the survey questions asked residents if they would support a potential half-cent sales tax increase to fund things like neighborhood police patrol, crime watch and traffic enforcement.

Many people are in favor, but some say money is needed elsewhere.

"There's a lack of funding for homeless resources, housing resources, mental health resources," said Christy Bettencourt, Grover Beach resident. "I think pouring funding into those types of things would be greatly beneficial for our area and greatly relieve our police and fire force."

Grover Beach City Manager Matthew Bronson said revenue from the cannabis tax is making a difference at the police and fire departments, but there still is a demand to meet.

"There's still an ongoing need to increase our police staffing and fire staffing to provide the efficient public safety services that residents depend on and that costs are significant over the next few years," Bronson said.

Grover Beach isn't the only city looking at a potential tax.

On Tuesday, Atascadero city leaders approved $25,000 for a survey consultant to ask community members what they want and how they would support it.

It's happening in Morro Bay and San Luis Obispo as well.

According to county data, Atascadero and Grover Beach get the least amount of general fund revenue from residents compared to other San Luis Obispo County cities.

San Luis Obispo County leaders are also considering a parcel tax to support the Library's capital projects.

Most councils will have until next August to submit a ballot measure.

Any potential tax measure would have to be approved by voters before it could take effect.

Pismo Beach city leaders are not considering a tax at this time.

KSBY also reached out to Arroyo Grande and Paso Robles but did not hear back.

The City of Grover Beach is offering residents a chance to meet with city council members at a "Coffee with Council" event this Saturday, Nov. 16 from 9 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Red Bee Coffee, located at 278 W. Grand Ave.