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Kern County Board of Supervisors propose 1% sales tax increase

Posted: 2:25 PM, Jun 28, 2022
Updated: 2022-06-29 01:54:54-04
Money Being Put in a Cash Register (FILE)

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KERO) — Helping the unincorporated areas of Kern County was at the forefront of Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting as the board took up a measure that would help bring more funding to help provide more resources to the community. But, it comes at a price.

At the board of supervisors meeting last week the county administrative office presented the results of a survey from more than 2,700 residents in the county.

They reported that some of the strongest priorities community members expressed include:

  • Maintaining public safety.
  • Retaining and attracting local businesses and jobs.
  • Helping address mental health and addiction challenges.
  • Addressing homelessness.
  • And repairing roads.

In order to address these issues, the county administrative office recommended the board consider a one percent sales tax in the unincorporated areas only that would provide $54 million annually until ended by voters.

Tuesday the board of supervisors approved the measure helping the unincorporated areas of Kern by allowing residents to vote on a one percent sales tax that will now be added to the ballot.

County Administrative Officer Ryan Alsop says this measure is a step toward taking action to help our county progress.

“We’re really heading for a trainwreck, unless we do something as a county, to deal with it.”

The unincorporated areas in the county that will benefit include Oildale, Kern River Valley, East Bakersfield, Rosedale, Boron, Rosamond, Lost Hills, and more (see the full list of areas below).

Alsop adds it’s the funding from the ordinance that will help provide assistance as other fiscal challenges in the oil and gas industry have caused a more than 64 percent decrease in assessed valuation of related properties on top of a 6 percent reduction in total discretionary revenue over the past seven years.

"We produce all the state's oil and gas and the state has put a deadline since that date on that in 15 years... this is a fairly extraordinary economic transition that the state is trying to manage."

However, not everyone was in favor of the ordinance. Emma de la Rosa with the Leadership and Advocacy Council for Justice and Accountability says she wants the board to consider many people in these communities are disadvantaged and living in poverty.

“It's important that the county and county staff take into consideration the economic impact of the sales tax. And also it would be great to see in the resolution and in the ordinance that the county will be investing those funds to the communities.”

Supervisor David Couch, the only board member who opposed the measure, wanted to ensure the language of the proposal clarified that it would lead to a one percent sales tax increase not just "one cent."

“Nobody, at least I don’t want to put this on the ballot because we don’t want people to have to pay more for anything... in the language that's going to go before the voters should say one percent, not one cent."

Now that the next step is in the hands of the voters. Alsop believes county administrators will be able to teach the community about this measure's importance.

“I’m hopeful, and we are going to make the case to unincorporated area voters about where we stand as the county and make sure that they’re educated and have as much knowledge as they can take with them to the ballot to make an informed decision on their future.”

The one percent sales tax measure will be on the ballot in November and voted on by unincorporated residents only and county administrators say 100 percent of the funds will stay local.

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