Monterey County

Monterey voters support proposed sales tax increase

Third-party survey says residents wouldn't mind sales tax increase

MONTEREY, Calif. - Voters said they wouldn't mind a proposed sales tax increase in their city, according to a survey conducted by a third-party company.

City leaders hope adding an extra half-cent or full cent would help fund infrastructure needs.

This initial survey is just the beginning of what could lead to a tax measure on the November ballot.

For the last several years the City of Monterey has been talking about increasing the sales tax. Now it's looking like voters support the idea.

A phone survey was conducted last month. Out of 343 potential voters, 59 percent think a half-cent increase tax would help the city while 56 percent would support a full cent increase tax.

"The public has an expectation of what they want with city services, and they understand or at least 56 percent initially believe that a sales tax would help fund those services that they want from the community," said Mike McCarthy, interim city manager.

McCarthy said while the city's budget is good, there are areas in which the city falls short.

"We keep continue to find that our infrastructure continue lacking. We are not making a solid enough investment on infrastructure," said McCarthy.

McCarthy said neighborhood streets could use an upgrade and city-owned building roofs have leaks, including the city's public library. Library reps said the building is in desperate need of renovations, repairs that would cost a total of $3.5 million.

"There is funding all over the city that we could use money for," said McCarthy.

A 1-cent sales tax increase would raise the current sales tax from 7.5 percent to 8.5 percent and generate an extra $7 million of revenue for the city.

McCarthy said a sales tax, specifically, makes sense for a city that collects so many tourism dollars.

"So when we have guests who visit, they drive our streets, they use our facilities, it makes more sense on it to be shared," said McCarthy.

The council will review the survey at the next City Council meeting. If they decide to move forward, there will be more public outreach to survey voters and learn more about where they would want the additional tax revenue to go. In August, council will make the final decision on whether to put the sales tax increase up for vote in November.

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