Sales tax campaigns launch in Turlock, Oakdale

08/18/2014 4:58 PM

08/18/2014 6:04 PM

Campaigns have been launched for a pair of sales tax increases on the Nov. 4 ballot – one to pay for Turlock street repairs, the other to help fund city services in Oakdale.

Prominent residents in both cities are leading the efforts, which so far have no organized opposition.

Measure B asks Turlock voters to raise the tax by half a percentage point over seven years. It needs at least two-thirds approval under state law because the money is for a specific purpose.

Measure Y would provide a five-year extension of a half-percentage-point hike approved by Oakdale voters in 2011. It can pass with a simple majority because the income is not earmarked, but backers have made it clear that public safety is the priority.

“If we don’t pass this, we’re really looking at laying off more police and firefighters,” said Frank Clark, co-chairman of the campaign committee. It would raise an estimated $1.5 million per year, which is about one-sixth the size of Oakdale’s general fund.

Clark, an Oakdale Irrigation District board member, was chairman of the 2011 tax campaign and also has led successful efforts for school bond measures. He said the current committee, co-led by Mickey Peabody, aims to raise $6,500 from supporters.

The committee in Turlock, a city more than triple the population of Oakdale, has a fundraising goal of $30,000, Chairman Jim Theis said. He led three successful school bond campaigns and a 2004 city sales tax measure that narrowly lost.

Measure B would generate about $5.6 million per year for a long list of repairs to streets in Turlock.

“Everyone understands that the roads are deteriorating, and nothing has been done in the past to fix them,” Theis said.

The Turlock tax would go away if the Stanislaus Council of Governments persuades voters to pass a countywide measure for roadwork. That idea faded early this year, but officials are talking about a possible vote in 2016.

Turlock’s sales tax is 7.625 percent, the same as most of Stanislaus County. Oakdale and Ceres are at 8.125 percent because of increases approved by voters.

Increasing the rate by half a percentage point would add 5 cents to a $10 purchase of taxable goods, or $5 to a $1,000 purchase.

Measure B is part of a crowded Turlock ballot that also features a switch to district elections and contests for mayor and two council seats. Oakdale has no local races because Mayor Pat Paul and council candidates Cherilyn Bairos and J.R. McCarty are unopposed.

The Turlock and Oakdale measures include citizens committees to oversee spending of the increased tax money. The latter city has such a group for the 2011 measure, which has gone mainly to police and fire but also helps with the senior center, community center, street lighting and street sweeping.

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