When it comes to participation in a countywide quarter-cent sales tax aimed at public safety revenues, count in the City of Corcoran.
The council last week approved the city’s expenditure plan for the public safety transaction and use tax. The measure still has to pass a four-fifths vote from the Kings County Board of Supervisors. If it does, the sales tax increase will go to the voters on the June primary ballot.
City Manager Kindon Meik told the council the issue first started to be discussed in November, when the subject was raised at a city-county coordinating meeting. He said as a special tax, the initiative would require a two-thirds approval from voters.
As part of the process, each city was asked to submit an expenditure plan outlining proposed uses of the revenues. Corcoran’s short report included using funds for personnel costs, programs, supplies and equipment, facilities and training.
Once every city completes its report, they will work together with the County of Kings to create a memorandum of understanding (MOU) that will establish the framework, including revenue sharing. Meik said it appears the money will be shared on a per-capita basis, with the City of Corcoran expected to see $350,000-400,000 a year added to its general fund for public safety purposes.
Meik said there appears to be growing support countywide for the measure. Each city has its own public safety needs, he noted, while the county can use the funds for law enforcement and fire services ranging from the district attorney’s office to the new jail.
It appears at least part of the money locally could be used to support the construction of a new police department, or at least debt service on any loans associated with its construction.
Corcoran got another bit of good news on that front, with the council approving a letter to Congressman David Valadao (R-Hanford) for his assistance in helping the city qualify for special United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) grants and loans. The program is set up to help rural communities in distressed areas. However, the program was limited to communities with a population base of under 20,000—and Corcoran was disqualified because the population of two state prisons was included in the overall count.
Valadao was successful in getting a waiver to that number that was added to the huge consolidated national appropriations bill, which established for the purpose of eligibility, incarcerated prisoners not be counted in determining community population.
The city is already working with USDA and will be considering applications for the new police department facility, improvements to the water and wastewater systems and street projects.