“My fear is we may have voter burnout when it comes to tax issues.”
— Supervisor Efren Carrillo
The rush is on. With the economy growing again, local governments are eager be first in line for new revenue. In the calculus of electoral politics, these hometown agencies want to get their share before the voters decide, one more time, that enough is enough.
As the deadline approaches this week, as many as eight tax and bond measures may appear on Sonoma County ballots in November. The list includes countywide sales tax measures for roads and libraries, a city sales tax in Petaluma, bond issues for Santa Rosa Junior College and the Santa Rosa City Schools and utility tax measures in Santa Rosa, Sebastopol and Cloverdale.
All these tax measures on one ballot will test the conventional wisdom, which says: Some voters will simply turn away, reasoning that all these tax increases only prove that government can’t be trusted. When tax elections are won by small margins, every vote counts.
Still, none of the agencies involved is volunteering to defer to the others. The Petaluma City Council is on record opposing what it views as a pre-emptive strike by the Sonoma County Board of Supervisors.
With little opportunity for the cities to comment, supervisors on Tuesday rolled out a sales tax plan to support road repairs.
For the county board, it’s not the easiest of arguments: Since the county spent the past 30 years neglecting roads, could you now help us out?
Still, no one can argue the road budget doesn’t need the money.
Now supervisors wait to find out whether one interest group or another will oppose the plan. It appears that environmental groups have been pacified by an offer to dedicate 10 percent of the revenue to transit, but an advocate for roads called that “a horrible mistake.”