The City of Corcoran won’t have to hedge its bets, since it appers the remainder of Kings County is on board to once again pursue a sales tax hike on the November ballot.
In the past week, both Avenal and Lemoore have signaled their support to revive a Measure K-like initiative. The local city council expressed its support two weeks ago.
The Kings County Board of Supervisors was expected to vote on the issue Tuesday. If approved, the quarter-cent sales tax proposal will appear on the November ballot.
The measure would keep in place the quarter-cent sales tax imposed by the state, which is scheduled to end by Dec. 31. Measure K, which failed on the June primary ballot, would have kept the sales tax increment in place, kicking in by Jan. 1, 2017. Since the issue is being redone for the November general election, the sales tax increase will not become effective until April 1 of next year, if approved.
Measure K got good support from throughout the county, but did not meet the threshold of 66.7 percent of the vote in favor of it. The initiative surpassed that mark in Hanford and Lemoore, gaining 67.2 percent and 71.79 percent of the vote, respectively. Corcoran voters favored the measure by a 65 percent margin and Avenal gave it just over 65 percent approval. The measure fared worst in the unincorporated areas of Kings County, where it still managed to gain almost 61 percent of the vote. The unincorporated areas include Kettleman City, Stratford and Armona, along with residential areas in south Hanford and north of Corcoran.
Endorsement of the new measure by the board of supervisors will cancel the need for the city council to hold a public hearing next week on its own sales tax increase initiative. The council two weeks ago, while supporting the revival of Measure K, took its own action to implement a half-cent sales tax increase, should other municipalities not get on board with a countywide ballot measure. Council stated at the time that the countywide effort would trump a local sales tax increase.
Councilmen also said at the time that there needs to be a more aggressive push to help such a measure pass.
“It’s not enough that we say we favor such a measure,” noted Councilman Jim Wadsworth. “We have to really support its passage. This will mean a lot of work.”
The new measure is expected to include language that clarifies funds can be used for new public safety—fire and law enforcement—equipment, personnel or facilities; the money cannot be used to supplant existing budgets.
When approved for the June ballot, city city estimated Corcoran would receive about $340,000 a year from the measure.
The city of Corcoran currently faces a $241,000 deficit in its general fund, with reserves decreasing each year for the past seven years. The June 30, 2016, general fund reserve was estimated at $1.8 million, with city staff noting next year’s reserve at $1.6 million.
The sales tax increment, while it will add money to the general fund, cannot be used to shore up those deficits.