City taxes rear their heads again
Times could get even more taxing in the coming months as some South Coast communities mull over new taxes.
In an abrupt move, the Goleta City Council on July 1 backed away from plans to place a city sales tax measure on the November ballot. If approved by voters, the measure could have derailed Measure A, a $1 billion Santa Barbara County transportation tax that would have funded projects for the next three decades.
Although the Goleta tax plan could have been a bluff, several council members advocated it as a way to gain leverage in a dispute with the county, which has been reluctant to renegotiate a revenue-sharing agreement with Goleta since it was incorporated in 2002.
Meanwhile, in Santa Barbara, it appears voters will decide in November whether the city should continue collecting a telephone tax for the use of cell phones and land telephone lines — as well as starting to collect them for the use of Internet-based phone services.
The Santa Barbara City Council voted 7-0 this month to put the telecommunications portion of the so-called Utility User’s Tax on the November ballot.
City officials say that while the initiative would not generate more money for the city, it would avoid the loss of about $4 million annually from the general fund. In other words, they say it would allow them to break even.
The tax would drop from 6 to 5.75 percent. Officials say Santa Barbara could break even by starting to tax Internet-based phone services, which offer cheap flat rates to users. If passed, the city could tax use of Internet-based TV, which isn’t offered in Santa Barbara.
We’re skeptical of this or any tax. We want the city to make the case that this is really needed.