KINGSBURG – The year may have just started but when June 5 rolls around it will be decision time for Kingsburg residents. The City Council will be asking voters to approve adding an additional 0.75 percent to the general sales tax. If approved, the tax will add approximately $700,000 to the city’s budget.
City leaders say they’ll use that money for police, fire, emergency medical services, parks and recreation/sports facilities. Officials are encouraging residents to go online to take a survey and give their input on the proposal.
“We encourage all residents to take the survey to provide input on it,” Mayor Michelle Roman said. It is available at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/GLTT52R and on the City’s website.
Kingsburg City Council plans to have a committee formed to oversee the tax fund’s expenditures and annual reports will be given on the funding. The tax will sunset, or end, in 10 years.
The Council is looking into a tax to help pay for more public safety personnel, infrastructure and recreational opportunities. Kingsburg’s sales tax rate is among the lowest in Fresno County at 7.98 percent. It only receives one percent of that back from the county to help pay for local services.
City Manager Alex Henderson said that City’s Finance and Public Safety committees have helped in exploring other funding options over the past two years. Resident feedback regarding a property tax resulted in the Council seeking a sales tax instead so costs could be shared equally.
Henderson said Kingsburg currently collects approximately $950,000-$1 million annually from the 1 percent ad valorem tax. The City would have to nearly double its existing business sales tax generation to support the hiring of new personnel.
Some are concerned that adding sales tax would drive businesses away from locating in Kingsburg; however Henderson said major retailers are already struggling since consumers are opting to purchase items online.
“Major retailers such as Target and Costco, have very specific data set requirements that must be met prior to building or locating. Kingsburg simply does not meet their population targets. We enjoy the benefits of having a small community, but there are drawbacks when it relates to attracting large sales tax generators.”
In order to hire more police officers and address public space and recreation needs the community is asking for, additional funds must be generated.
“Currently, public safety consumes between 75 to 80 percent of general fund spending. It is safe to assume future revenue growth would follow a similar expenditure pattern,” Henderson said. “Council has also heard from private citizens and groups about the need for more and improved recreational space. This measure would give flexibility to allow for spending to improve those areas of concern as well.”
The Council has indicated they plan to spend any new funds similar to how existing funds are appropriated, with nearly 80 percent going toward public safety services.