Watered-down Sales Tax Measure OK’d for Redding Ballot; Money Would Support Law Enforcement

Redding voters will get to vote on a proposed sales tax hike for citywide anti-crime measures, but it’s exactly half of what Mayor Rick Bosetti had in mind.

Even though the final vote at Monday’s special meeting was 5-0, the Redding City Council was deeply divided over Bosetti’s proposed half-cent sales tax. A 4/5ths majority vote was required to place the measure on the ballot and for much of the two-hour meeting, it appeared the measure would fail on the usual 3-2 split with Councilors Patrick Jones and Gary Cadd accounting for the dissent.

Instead, an amended motion from Cadd that called for putting a quarter-cent increase before voters ended up receiving unanimous support, including a “yes” vote from Jones, who earlier had stated his fundamental opposition to any new taxes.

Registered voters within Redding city limits will be asked Nov. 4 whether to adopt a quarter-cent “transactions and use tax,” with the proceeds—estimated to be $5 million a year—used to hire additional police officers, fund supervised community cleanup programs and pay for out-of-county incarceration of sentenced offenders.

Bosetti proposed the half-cent measure at a council meeting in July. On Monday, he said the tax would help Redding get a handle on growing crime issue that has been exacerbated by the Public Safety Realignment Act (AB 109). The state legislation was enacted in 2011 to reduce California’s prison population by diverting certain non-violent offenders to county jails and shifting their post-release supervision to county probation officers instead of parole agents.

The tax measure, which will expire in six years, will feed a trust fund that will cover eligible expenses like hiring more police officers, renting jail cells in other cities and buying ankle bracelets for house arrests. Expenditures would be under the council’s control, City Attorney Rick Duvernay said.

Speakers were roughly divided on the measure, with some opposed to even the idea of a tax, others adamant that the council can find money elsewhere and a few acknowledging that it wouldn’t hurt to let the electorate decide.

“We failed to manage the general fund, and we shouldn’t ask you for more money,” said Jones, who reiterated his support for an unarmed citizen patrol (a topic on the agenda for the regular Tuesday council meeting).

Cadd, who was expected to be the swing vote, raised some eyebrows when he said he favored putting the measure on the ballot—“the voters have the right to have their say”—but then he countered with a long, meandering alternative motion that included the reduction to a quarter-cent tax.

Councilwoman Francie Sullivan admitted the measure was far from perfect but expressed her support, saying “anything we do to help law enforcement is a good thing. The people in our community deserve a chance to decide if they want to help the police.”

A vote on the half-cent sales tax failed on the usual 3-2 split.

Councilwoman Missy McArthur then offered grudging support of the quarter-cent version.

“I want to get any money we can to police,” she said.

With a voice hoarse from battling a chest cold, Bosetti made a final pitch for unity on the council.

“I absolutely believe it has to be a 5-0 vote. You can’t ignore what happened at Wednesday’s meeting,” he said, referring to Police Chief Robert Paoletti’s well-attended town hall meeting.

“I’m tired of waiting on help from Sacramento.”

The sales tax measure will require a two-thirds majority of votes for approval. After the meeting, Cadd said he was doubtful it would meet that 66 percent threshold.

Jon Lewis

Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at jonpaullewis@gmail.com.

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