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Grass Valley tax campaign funds outpace money for Nevada City measure

Supporters of Grass Valley’s proposed tax measure raised almost double the funds raised by supporters Nevada City’s similar tax, both appearing on the November ballot, according to campaign finance documents.

Grass Valley’s estimated nearly $10.1 million general fund is $1.5 million lower from its fiscal year 2007-08 peak at nearly $11.56 million, while Nevada City has lost $487,000 from 2008-09 levels, according to city documents.

Both reductions have resulted in reduced services from police and public works, among other cuts, administrators say.



To counteract these losses, Nevada City administrators placed a three-eighths of a percent sales tax increase, called Measure L, on the ballot.

Grass Valley placed a similar measure on the ballot, as well. Measure N is a half-percent sales tax that would raise the sales tax rate to 7.875 percent — Nevada City’s current rate.




Measure L would add $390,000 annually to Nevada City’s general fund, and Measure N would bring an estimated $2.4 million to Grass Valley. (An earlier version of this story listed an inaccurate total for the amount the measure would raise in the first year). Nevada City’s Measure L has a five-year sunset clause, while Grass Valley’s Measure N would expire in 10 years, if voters don’t approve an extension.

Although both taxes would be allocated to each city’s general fund, and therefore avoiding qualification as a special tax requiring two-thirds voter approval, city administrators have promised to follow and disclose where funds are expended.

Funds from Grass Valley’s Measure N would specifically be allocated to police, fire and street work if passed, ensured by an independent oversight committee.

Also intended to fund public safety and public works, Nevada City’s Measure L would also be tracked and presented annually in a public meeting.

The Committee for Yes on Measure N raised a total of $3,360 in contributions and spent $3,034 this year as of Oct. 25, according to campaign finance disclosure documents filed with Grass Valley.

All of that money was spent on campaign literature produced by out-of-town companies in Oakland, Texas and Florida, according to finance documents. The largest expenditure, $1,728.93 worth, was paid to SonicPrint.com for direct-mail cards.

The majority of those funds came from public safety unions.

The Grass Valley Police Officers Association gave the committee $1,000 in October. Both the Nevada County Professional Firefighters Association and the Grass Valley Career Firefighters Association donated $500 each.

The rest came from res id nets or businesses.

The largest private citizen donation came from City Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout, who doled out $500 to the committee. Businessman Ray Byers, owner of LeafGuard Gutter Systems, contributed $250. So did Howard Levine, a City Council candidate and former executive director of the Grass Valley Downtown Association. Fire Chief Tony Clarabut contributed at total of $200.

Only $110 of unitemized donations under $100 were listed in the campaign finance documents. The committed has $325.55 on hand heading into the last leg of the election.

The Yes on Measure L Committee raised $1,919 in contributions and spent $1,743 in 2012 as of Oct. 25, according to campaign finance disclosure documents filed with Nevada City.

Only $349 of those contributions were unitemized donations of less that $100, while the rest, $1,100, came from residents such as Laurie Oberholtzer, Bob Wright, Jane Sangwine-Yager, Evan Phelps and Gary Tintle’s company, Tintle Inc.

The largest contribution came from Mayor Duane Strawser’s business, Tour Nevada City Bike Shop. Former City Councilwoman Rienette Senum donated $200 to the committee and current Councilwoman Sally Harris contributed $100.

Resident Paul Matson loaned the committee $320, which is scheduled to be repaid by Nov. 7, according campaign filings.

The majority of the campaign’s expenditures, $1,423 worth, were paid to Auburn Printers for miscellaneous campaign paraphernalia.

The committee has an outstanding debt of $995 and $701 on hand going into the last leg of the election.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email crosacker@theunion.com or call (530) 477-4236.


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