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Cloverdale voters to decide on utility tax

  • Downtown Cloverdale (PD FILE)

Cloverdale voters will decide in November whether to impose a tax on their utility bills to help bolster the city’s shaky general fund.

The City Council voted 4-1 this week to place the proposed 3 percent tax on the ballot, estimated to cost the average household about $122 per year.

The tax would raise approximately $375,000 annually and would apply to electric, gas, telephone and cable TV bills and also include cellphones. It would expire in eight years.

“The bottom line is we need to shore up the city’s finances,” Mayor Carol Russell said.

Cloverdale joins two other cities in the county that also have placed utility tax measures on the November ballot.

Santa Rosa proposes to reduce its existing tax from 5 percent to 4.25 percent, but broaden it to cover cellphones.

Sebastopol is asking voters to impose a 3.75 percent tax on gas and electrical service, cellphones and landlines, cable service and garbage collection. It would replace the current 4 percent tax on energy service that expires Jan. 1.

Utility user taxes for local government are common in California, with 154 cities and four counties collecting them, and generate about $2 billion annually, according to CaliforniaCityFinance.com, a government finance almanac.

Cloverdale had a utility tax in effect from 1994 until it expired in 2006, just before the recession hit.

Despite numerous belt-tightening measures, city government has been unable to emerge from its dire financial predicament.


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