Petaluma poll: 70% back extra sales tax for police, firefighting, roads

Petaluma City Councilman Mike Healy said Monday a poll he commissioned shows nearly 70 percent of likely city voters would support an extra half-cent sales tax for eight years to pay for such services as police, firefighting and street repairs.

He revealed his findings at Monday's City Council meeting, saying "hard and soft support" for a general tax was about 68 percent. A general tax — one with broadly defined focus — requires a simple majority to pass.

He called the numbers "the greenest of green lights" for the council to put a sales tax increase on the November ballot.

Healy arranged for the phone poll after the council last week decided to informally gauge public opinion about a tax increase.

But Mayor David Glass took issue with the way Healy's poll question was phrased, saying it was too specific in mentioning potholes, streetlights, drug and gang prevention and school resource officers.

A specific tax would need two-thirds approval by voters.

"That may not be the way we can phrase or shape the ballot measure," he said. "It may be a green light and it may be a &‘proceed with caution.' "

Glass said he also wants to know how a sales tax measure would affect voters' support for a parcel tax initiative on the ballot to fund parks improvements.

After last week's meeting, Healy asked the Petaluma Lodging Coalition and the Police Officers Association of Petaluma if they would fund a poll. The two groups covered the $2,000 cost.

Other council members and City Manager John Brown are conducting their own outreach and are to report back at the July 16 meeting. A ballot measure must be approved by Aug. 6 for the November election.

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