Sonoma voters gave the city relief from its economic woes in 2012 by approving Measure J, providing an additional $2.2 million in sales tax revenue each year. The money has helped Sonoma avoid making deep cuts to programs and services. The idea was that the half-cent sales tax would be needed for just five years. But it hasn’t turned out that way, and now city officials are hoping that voters will extend the tax for another half-decade, until 2022. They should — by approving Measure U on the Nov. 8 ballot.
Why more time? Because Sonoma is just starting to emerge, as are many California communities, from lingering problems from the Great Recession and from losing its redevelopment money. Just as the city is about to make a safe landing is the wrong time to take away its parachute. The loss in redevelopment funds alone for the city amounts to $5 million a year. Given that the city’s total general fund last year was $17 million, it represents a significant chunk of change. Let’s be clear. If Measure U fails, the city won’t implode. But it could set the city back in a number of areas including for road repairs. Sonoma County has too many examples of what happens when cities fall behind on infrastructure upgrades. It’s almost impossible to catch up. Voters should approve Measure U.