If passed, the measure will go on the Nov. 3 ballot
After two rounds of polling showing strong support for the measure, the Goleta City Council will make a final decision on adding a measure for 1% sales tax increase to the ballot for Novemeber’s election.
The council will vote following a presentation from City Clerk Deborah Lopez. If passed, the measure would be on the ballot for the Nov. 3 General Municipal Election, potentially alongside a measure expanding the Goleta mayor’s term to four years.
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.
“The City has significant revenue limitations resulting from the Revenue Neutrality Agreement with the County, and the City’s sales tax is one of the lowest in the County. There are more than $34.5 million in unfunded capital projects and many other community priorities for which insufficient funding exists, such as investing more in pavement and infrastructure maintenance programs and supporting projects and objectives from the City’s various strategic plans and goal-setting documents,” read a city staff report.
In addition, the coronavirus pandemic has led to significant revenue shortfalls of an estimated $8.6 million in the 2019-20 and 2020-21 fiscal years.
City staff conducted two polls of Goleta residents that showed likely voter support for the sales tax. 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.
Following a presentation on the poll results, council voted June 16 for staff to return July 7 with an ordinance to add the measure to the ballot. The measure must be adopted by a two-thirds vote of the council, which in the case of a five-member body, requires four out of five members to vote in support, according to the staff report.
City staff estimate the tax will generate approximately $7 million annually until ended by voters.
If adopted, voters on Nov. 3 will decide whether or not to impose a one cent per dollar transaction and use tax on the sale and/or use of all tangible personal property sold at retail locations in the city of Goleta, excluding food purchased as groceries or prescription medication.
The ballot question would read: “To maintain City of Goleta services, to address public health emergencies and natural disasters, support public safety and 911 response, clean and maintain public areas, retain local businesses and jobs, maintain open spaces, repair streets, address homelessness and provide other general City services, shall a measure be adopted establishing a 1¢ sales tax providing approximately $7,000,000 annually until ended by voters, requiring annual independent audits with all funds staying in Goleta?”
In other business Tuesday, the council will vote to allocate money to the city’s COVID-19 Small Business Assistance Program.
City staff is recommending council allocate $250,000 to the program, in which $200,000 would be awarded to Women’s Economic Ventures as a grant for their ReStart Loan Program and Basic Startup and Expansion Loans Program and $50,000 awarded to the Santa Barbara Foundation for the Better Together Small Business Grant Assistance Program.
As part of creating COVID-19 relief efforts in June, the council decided to not create a stand-alone small business assistance program and would instead partner with WEV and the foundation and assist with outreach efforts.
If approved, city funding assistance would be provided only to Goleta-based small businesses with a focus on reopening needs, according to a staff report.
“Both programs would be managed by the Neighborhood Services and Public Safety Department, through partnerships with other organizations,” read the staff report.
Lastly, the council will vote to approve Fiscal Year 2020/21 Goleta City Grant Program funding.
The program provides grants of up to $5,000 each for nonprofit organizations involved in providing public services, educational and cultural activities such as music, art, dance, and recreation, and Goleta-oriented special events and regional projects that enhance and support the quality of life in Goleta, according to a staff report.
Of 57 applications received this year for Community Development Block Grants, 11 qualified for grant funding totaling $130,500. Remaining applicants were then considered for Goleta City Grant Program funding.
“The total funding requests considered from those carryover applicants and City Grant applications was $304,870,” read the staff report.
City staff is recommending council award $80,000 to 33 applicants to the Goleta City Grant Program.
Staff recommends $5,000 Community Action Commission of Santa Barbara County, $5,000 for Interfaith Initiative of Santa Barbara’s Showers of Blessing, and $4,950 for Mental Health Consultation at Child Abuse Listening Mediation.