SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - It's official. Santa Barbara's current sales tax rate will increase by 1% by April 1, 2018.
Registered voters in the city cast their ballots Tuesday with more than 55% of voters saying they would like the rate to increase in order to fix city roads, infrastructure and to fund essential programs.
Business owners will have to make a slight adjustment before the new rate takes effect.
“They’ll have to adjust their point of sale systems and adjust their system so they’re collecting 8 and three-quarters instead of 7 and three-quarters," said Bob Samario, finance director for the City of Santa Barbara.
However, not all purchases are subject to sales tax.
“Groceries, food or pharmaceuticals and those kinds of things are not subject to sales taxes and also services aren’t subject to sales taxes, only the purchases of goods," said Samario.
Councilmember Randy Rowse has been a supporter of Measure C, but has stressed his concerns before about it not having a "sunset clause" which would put an expiration date on the rate.
“It’s important for us to do whatever technique are possible to ensure those dollars are in those priorities first," said Rowse.
This is what the measure looked like on the vote by mail ballots:
To maintain essential services and repair critical infrastructure including: Police, fire, and 911 emergency medical response; local streets, potholes, bridges and storm drains; neighborhood fire stations/public safety infrastructure; parks, youth/senior services; address homelessness; help retain local businesses; support other general services.
“The way they said it was to maintain essential services, I think they biased the ballot question where they say if you don’t vote for it we’re actually going to take away these services," said Cory Bantilan, Mayoral Candidate Frank Hotchkiss' campaign consultant.
The sales tax hike will begin April 1, 2018.