Visalia residents’ last chance to make their voices heard concerning the city’s half cent sales tax was held April 3. The city council is required to conduct two public hearings before adopting the final spending plan. The first public hearing was held March 20. No one spoke at either public hearing.
The final spending plan had already been approved by the Citizen’s Advisory Committee and reviewed by the Measure N Oversight Committee. Mayor Warren Gubler believes that no one spoke out against the spending plan because it was thoroughly vetted and unanimously approved by the members of those committees.
“This didn’t surprise me as this is consistent with my belief that the spending proposal reflects the spending priorities recommended by the original task force and local citizens, and which the council promised to comply with,” said Gubler.
Measure N was passed last November by more than 65% of the vote. Visalia’s sales tax will increase from 8% to 8.5% costing the average household $180 a year. The revenue will be spent on maintaining Police, Fire, Roads and Park and Recreation services at levels commensurate with overall city growth. It is projected to collect $13.7 million over 5 fiscal quarters and city staff requested spending a total of $11.6 million.
Councilmember Phil Cox reminded those in attendance during the March 20 meeting that Measure T did not perform the way they thought it would and the city came up short. He preferred that the city not spend every extra dime generated by the tax. He would also like to let the emergency fund accumulate over the years instead of spend it.
Councilmember Nelsen thanked the public for having confidence in the city council to do what they said they would do. He said that transparency will be necessary for the spending plan to be accepted by the public.
The city council voted to adopt Measure N’s first year spending plan. The spending plan will be reviewed every two years. The city council can evaluate the tax again in 2025 where the council needs a four fifths vote to discontinue the sales tax.