Mayors send letter of disapproval regarding Merced County’s sales tax plan
'This is the wrong time to put a countywide sales tax measure on the ballot.'
Editor’s Note: The following letter from all the mayors in Merced County was sent today to the Merced County Board of Supervisors.
Mayors of Merced County
August 3, 2020
Merced County Board of Supervisors
2222 M Street
Merced, CA 95340
RE: Proposed % Cent Countywide Sales Tax:
Notice of Lack of Support
Dear Chairman Espinoza and Supervisors Lor, McDaniel, Pareira, and Silveira:
As mayors of the six cities in Merced County, we write to notify you that we unanimously do not support the proposed countywide ‘A cent sales tax measure on the agenda at your special meeting on Tuesday, August 4. for the following reasons:
1 – You Are Asking For Too Much Money. We understand that the county jail needs to be repaired or rebuilt. The information that we have received indicates that refurbishment would cost approximately $13 million and building a new jail could cost over $30 million. Instead of asking for a $30 million solution to a $30 million problem, you are asking for $17 million per year for 15 years. A $255 million solution to a $30 million problem is inappropriate.
2 – Requesting a New Countywide Tax While Many of Our Businesses Are on Life Support Shows a Lack of Understanding of Our Businesses. Our business environment has not been the same since the onset of COVID-19. Every business has been impacted by this virus. In many cases, decades old local businesses have been shuttered or temporarily closed. Many businesses that are open are not operating at full capacity and the unemployment rate has dramatically increased. Making it more expensive to choose to do business in Merced County is the wrong approach at this time. We should be doing all we can to reduce the barriers to commerce in Merced County, not erecting new ones. This proposed tax would provide incentives for shoppers to take their business to neighboring counties.
3 – Merced County Has Already Been Allocated $28 Million From the CARES Act To Assist In Coronavirus Relief. This proposed 15 year tax measure is purportedly needed in response to a reduction in tax revenues as a result of COVID-19. Although we expect this virus to be with us for some time, there is no indication that severe impacts will be felt for 15 years. Furthermore, Merced County has already been allocated $28 million from the federal government through the CARES Act. Asking our residents for a 15 year tax to combat lost government revenues due to COVID-19 is an overreach.
4 – You Have Not Identified a Spending Plan For The Voters. To our knowledge, a spending plan has not been shared with the public and public input has not been sought. If Merced County intends to only spend these revenues in certain areas of its budget then this would in fact require 2/3rds approval from the voters, rather than 50% plus one.
5 – You Have Not Adequately Reached Out To Your Constituents. The six mayors in Merced County only became aware of the proposed 15 year tax measure hours before your July 28, 2020 board meeting. You are not required to notify us of your actions, but the lack of communication on this topic is indicative of a borader lack of communication to our residents.
This is the wrong time to put a countywide sales tax measure on the ballot. We are writing in our individual capacities as mayors and unanimously ask that you not proceed with this ballot measure.
Mayor Paul Creighton, City of Atwater
Mayor April Hogue, City of Dos Palos
Mayor Pat Nagy, City of Gustine
Mayor Gurpal Samra, City of Livingston
Mayor Mike Villalta, City of Los Banos
Mayor Mike Murphy, City of Merced