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City taxes rear their heads again

By   /   Sunday, July 13th, 2008  /   Comments Off on City taxes rear their heads again

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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.

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