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Voters Consider Raising Taxes

POSTED October 4, 2011 9:25 p.m.

Oakdale voters will be faced with a decision on Nov. 8 that will help determine the city’s finances for the next three years. Measure O will ask voters if they want to fund a half-cent sales tax increase on most purchases made within the City of Oakdale. The sales tax increase will go to Oakdale City general funds, which pays most of the city’s expenses.
Measure O first came to Oakdale City Council as resolution 2011-65. Council members unanimously passed the half-cent sales tax increase and it was added to the ballot for public approval. One half of Oakdale voters, plus one person, will have to approve of the tax for it to go into effect on April 1, 2012 and end on March 31, 2015. Tom Hallinan, Oakdale City Attorney, wrote the impartial analysis for the ballot initiative.
“The tax is not targeted for any specific service. It will go to Oakdale’s general fund. It was created really to preserve the current services offered by the City of Oakdale,” Hallinan said.
The current sales tax rate in the City of Oakdale is 7.375 percent. Albert Avila, director of finances for the City of Oakdale, said that 1 percent of the sales tax currently goes to Oakdale’s general fund. Another 6.25 percent is a State sales tax, and .125 percent is a voter-approved tax that funds libraries. Avila said that if measure O passes the City of Oakdale would receive 1.5 percent sales tax on most purchases made in Oakdale.
“We would basically be in line with Ceres. It wouldn’t make our tax rates much higher than the rest of Stanislaus County cities,” Avila said.
The half-cent sales tax increase was proposed by the council after Oakdale had to slash city department budgets. Council members approved it unanimously and some are speaking out publicly in favor of the tax. Councilwoman Katherine Morgan said that she has a “Yes on Measure O” sign in her yard.
“We tried to cut the budget to avoid something like this but there is nothing left in the budget to cut anymore,” Morgan said.
Avila said that if Measure O passes it could increase the city’s general fund by $1.2 million per year for three years.
“We made extreme cuts in operation and we are running on bare bones. If this doesn’t pass it’s going to be very difficult for the city to continue to provide the services we provide,” Avila said.
City Council members Morgan, Jason Howard, Michael Brennan, and Mayor Pat Paul have signed an argument in favor of Measure O, which will appear in voter information packets. So far there have been no arguments filed against Measure O. The full text of Measure O is available at smartvoter.org or on the city’s website.

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