Wednesday, July 22, 2009
The Pacific Grove City Council has approved placing a parcel tax on the city's November ballot, couching the tax as an effort to bail out the sinking public library.
The Council rejected three other tax options: an increase to the hotel tax, an increase to the business license tax, and enactment of a property transfer tax. P.G. Chamber of Commerce President Moe Ammar strongly opposed the first two tax hikes on the table.
The parcel tax would amount to a $95 annual fee for single residences and businesses, and $75 per unit for apartments and other multiple-residence properties. The measure would pull in more than $600,000 per year, earmarked for the library.
"As proposed, a parcel tax for the library would be a special tax," P.G. Finance Director Jim Becklenberg explains by email, "which means the revenue would be set aside in its own fund, and could only be used for the library."
In a staff report to the council, Becklenberg recommended eliminating city support for the library to the tune of $400,000 per year.
Despite strong community support for the library, the parcel tax measure faces an uphill battle on the ballot, requiring two-thirds voter approval to pass.
Last June P.G. voters approved Measure U, a one-percent sales tax hike. Many voters had interpreted the measure to be for the underfunded library, but city officials had not been explicit about where the money would be spent, other than for "essential services" such as public safety, street maintenance, youth programs and parks.
In November 2007, however, voters soundly shot down a one-half-percent sales tax hike, along with a parcel tax and a removal of a business tax cap.