The Goleta City Council on Tuesday will receive a presentation on a second round of polling for a potential 1% sales tax increase that could appear on the November ballot.
The board will hear from Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates on its second round of polling data for a potential sales tax increase. The first polling, conducted in February and presented to the council in May, indicated there was voter support for the new tax. The second round of polling was requested “in response to the emerging needs of the community and potential changes to the sentiments of the Goleta electorate brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic,” the staff report reads.
Results of the latest poll show increased support for the increase. The initial poll showed that between 59% and 66% of voters would be in favor, while the second poll shows the support ranging from 68% to 73%. The first poll surveyed 420 Goleta registered voters with the second polling 579, according to the staff report.
As part of the city’s strategic plan, the council directed staff to explore new revenue sources to help maintain current service levels and programs, while also meeting the demand of the growing infrastructure maintenance and improvement needs.
“Staff has identified specific one-time and ongoing funding needs, including more than $34.5 million in unfunded capital projects and other unfunded community priorities, such as investing in maintenance programs to delay further degradation of streets, sidewalks, buildings and other public assets, and supporting the important projects and objectives from the City’s various strategic plans and goal-setting documents,” the staff report reads.
The pandemic has revealed new needs around public safety, sanitation, social programs for those impacted, as well as economic development and job recovery. In addition, the city is experiencing a projected $8.6 million in revenue shortfalls in the current fiscal year and next fiscal year.
“These new needs combined with dramatic decreases in revenues will impact the City for the next several years as the City supports the community in efforts to recover from the existing economic crisis, contain and recover from the current pandemic and prepare for any resurgence of the virus that may occur,” the staff report reads.
Also, it remains unclear if the city will receive any COVID-19 recovery funding from the federal government. In the current revised state budget, the city may receive $330,716 from the CARES Act, which could be used to offset expenses incurred by the pandemic.
The sales tax could provide approximately $7 million annually, according to the staff report.
If the council moves forward with the measure, they could adopt a resolution on July 7 to submit the ballot measure for the Nov. 3 general election.
In other business Tuesday, the council will receive a mid-cycle financial review of the two-year operating and capital improvement program budgets for fiscal year 2020-21.
The budget was adopted on June 18, 2019, and is now approaching its second year of the adopted two-year budget. Because of the challenges brought on by the coronavirus pandemic, the report will include adjustments to the original budget as it relates to the financial impacts.
Total general fund revenues are estimated to be $22.9 million for FY 2020-21, with total general fund expenditures anticipated to be $26.06 million. Approximately $3.15 million of unassigned fund balance is recommended to offset revenue impacts. Approximately $8.7 million is anticipated to be available in the unassigned fun, which would leave $5.5 million in the unassigned fund balance.
Because of the likely scenario of more economic and revenue uncertainty, the budget is expected to require frequent review and adjustments. The city’s five-year forecast will also require review and revision.
Tuesday’s meeting is scheduled to begin at 5:30 p.m. The meeting will be conducted via teleconferencing and be streamed live on Goleta channel 19 or online at www.cityofgoleta.org.