TUESDAY, NOVEMBER 8, 2022 GENERAL ELECTION
- During the November 2022 General Municipal Election, Sonora residents will be able to vote on Measure Y: the proposed one percent (or 1%) local transactions and use tax (“sales tax”). If passed by City voters, Measure Y would generate approximately $3.9 million annually to help Sonora address important community needs.
- “The City of Sonora Essential Services Measure: Shall the measure to maintain the City of Sonora essential services such as Police, Fire, Street Repair, and other core services by establishing a 1 % sales and use tax (“Sales Tax”), providing the City of Sonora approximately $3.9 million dollars annually for a period of twenty (20) years until March 31, 2043.
- Arguments in Favor
- Community Needs
- Breakdown of Current Sales Tax Rate
- Frequently Asked Questions
- Sales Tax Presentation to City Council
- Documents and Election Information
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: What is Measure Y?
A: On July 18, 2022, the Sonora City Council declared a financial emergency based on revenue forecasts and anticipated budget deficits and unanimously placed Measure Y, a local one-percent sales tax measure, on the November 8th, 2022 ballot. If approved by local voters, Measure Y would provide local funding for community priorities like police and fire services, local sidewalk and streets repairs, replacement of aging public works equipment, engineering, facilities maintenance, and other core services.
Q: Why did the City Council place Measure Y on the ballot?
A: Spending for public safety and other services has exceeded the City’s revenues. The City’s population of 5,144 residents increases to over 25,000 during the day putting stresses on the resources and services available. Measure Y will provide the City with a revenue source to maintain essential services, and a majority of this will be paid by visiting tourist and county residents that do not live in the City of Sonora.
Q: Why Hasn’t My Street Been Paved? Can Measure Y Help?
A: Yes, Measure Y will help address our local streets. The City of Sonora has one of the worst rated streets in the State and funding generated by Measure Y will help the City address these essential repairs and pave local streets before they become even more expensive to maintain. The City is responsible for the maintenance of approximately 30+ miles of streets, but the only dedicated funding the City receives is gasoline tax that provides $230,000 annually. With the costs of maintenance of a rural street at approximately $500,000 it would take 65 years for the City to maintain its streets. This is an impossible task without additional revenue.
Q: How will Measure Y help the Police Department?
A: The City of Sonora has its own police department, which guarantees that the City has proactive neighborhood policing and that local police are available when needed. Over the past several years the City has not been able to maintain a competitive wage for officers. The City of Sonora’s current pay is 20% lower than similar cities, and we do not have the funding to provide them with modern vehicles and equipment. The current budgeted staffing levels are the same as they were in 1975 despite the increased call volume and the changing need for law enforcement in our community. The Police Department has not been able to recruit or retain successfully with its below market pay. Measure Y is necessary to ensure the City is able to maintain its own local police department.
Q: What would the revenues from the Sales tax increase be spent on?
A: Measure Y funding would provide the City of Sonora the ability to maintain essential services such as the Police, Fire and Public Works. Measure Y would also allow the City of Sonora to make needed street and sidewalk repairs, replace aging equipment and vehicles, engineering services and implement modern Information technology.
Q: Does the revenue generated by Measure Y stay in the City of Sonora?
A: Yes, all revenue generated by Measure Y will stay in the City of Sonora, not one cent can be taken by the State of California or the County of Tuolumne.
Q: Why a Sales Tax?
A: Sales Tax is the largest generator of City revenue each fiscal year. People who live outside the City limits use services such as Police, Fire and Streets, just as City residents. A sales tax results in shared cost for services and will be spent locally.
Q: What happens if Measure Y is not approved?
A: If Measure Y is not approved the City of Sonora will be required to find alternative ways to provide services including reducing services or eliminating services. The long-term future of the City would be in question. Without additional revenues, the costs to provide services will continue to increase and the City’s ability to function would be at risk.
Q: Will this tax apply to food (groceries) and medicine (prescriptions)?
A: No. In California most foods (groceries) and medicines (prescription drugs) are exempt from being charged a sales tax.
Q: Why are there 2 sales tax measure on the ballot?
A: The County of Tuolumne has a ballot measure to increase sales tax by 1% in areas outside the City of Sonora. None of the revenue generated by that measure would benefit the City of Sonora. The City of Sonora has Measure Y, this will increase the sales tax by 1% inside the incorporated limits of the City of Sonora and all of the revenues generated will stay in the City of Sonora.
Q: If both the County Sales tax Measure and the City of Sonora’s Sales Tax Measure passes will I have to pay 2% more tax?
A: No, the County’s sales tax measure will increase the sales tax rate only in the unincorporated County outside the City of Sonora and the City of Sonora will not receive any of the revenues generated. Measure Y is the City of Sonora’s sales tax measure and will only increase the sales tax rate inside the incorporated Sonora City limits. The City of Sonora will keep 100% of the revenue generated.
Q: How much revenue will the City receive from the measure?
A: The estimated revenues from Measure Y is $3.9 million. A majority of Measure Y will be paid by visitors to the City that are not City residents. The population of the City is 5,144 residents, but the daily population of the City exceeds 25,000 people, a majority of visiting tourists and county residents shopping, using City streets and other services within the City will pay a share of the revenues towards those City resources.
Q: Who decides how the revenue from Measure Y is allocated?
A: The City of Sonora has a finance committee that provides oversight for all City budgets and makes recommendations to the full City Council. The City Council then prioritizes how the revenues are used by the various departments as part of its budget process.
Q: Why a sales tax and not some other revenue strategy?
A: The City Council explored other types of revenue generating avenues. A parcel tax would put the burden on property owners for services, it would not be shared by visitors and tourists. A sales tax means both local and visiting consumers will pay a share.
Q: Why is there a 20-year Sunset Clause?
A: The City Council did not want just another source of revenue. There needs to be a plan so the City can become self-sufficient in the future. This funding provides the City resources for a growth strategy to plan and develop its long-term future. This revenue is intended to allow the City time to be competitive and create a future that allows for improved opportunities for businesses, citizens, employees and visitors.
Q: When would the sales tax go into effect?
A: If passed by voters in November 2022, the tax would become effective April 1, 2023.
Q: What is the difference between a general sales tax measure and a special sales tax measure?
A: A general sales tax requires a 50% plus 1 majority vote to pass and may be used for any legal city purpose. A special sales tax measure requires a 2/3 plus 1 majority vote to pass and legally restricts the funds to a special purpose.
Q: Can the City Council increase the sales tax in the future?
A: No. The only manner in which the sales tax could be increased in the future is by the registered voters of the City.
- If approved by voters, Measure Y would provide a funding source that would allow the City to:
- Maintaining public safety. Currently, the police department has the same staffing levels it had in 1975.
- Maintain 911 emergency response times. As the department has lost personnel it has become more difficult to respond to the increasing call volume and need for service.
- Provide a competitive wage for our police department that is currently paid 20% below other local agencies. Having a pay-rate that is no longer competitive has made it difficult to recruit and retain experienced personnel.
- Repairing local streets and potholes. With the limited funding we receive in the form of Gas tax it would take decades to maintain the 30+ miles of streets within the city.
- Sidewalk repair. The cost to repair/replace a linear foot of sidewalk is in excess of $130/ft. There is no funding dedicated to maintaining or bringing existing sidewalks into ADA compliance.
- Study and plan for storm drain repairs within the City. The current main drain was built in the late 1880’s.
- Measure Y includes a 20 year sunset clause that gives the City of Sonora resources for a growth strategy to plan and develop its long-term future. This revenue is intended to allow the City time to be competitive and create a future that allows for improved opportunities for businesses, citizens, employees and visitors.
Documents and Election Information