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Sales tax to get on ballot

Grass Valley voters will decide in November whether to support four specific areas of improvement in the city with a half-cent sales tax increase.

The measure would raise the city-wide sales tax to 7.825 percent; the increase would leave local taxes slightly higher than in other nearby counties that either already have a similar tax or also will vote on one.

Grass Valley City Council members unanimously approved the measure at their meeting late Tuesday.



Two-thirds of city voters would have to approve the measure for it to go into effect.

“We’re in full support,” said Grass Valley Downtown Association executive director Howard Levine. “If we had done this a few years ago, we would have finished our primary projects by now.”




“As one of the businesses who will collect the most taxes, I think it’s a good way to get our traffic issues resolved,” said Matt Weaver, co-owner of Weaver Auto & Truck Center.

Councilwoman Lisa Swarthout, who owns a dress shop downtown, said it was hard for her to be convinced at first. “As a business person, you see your customers will get the benefit from the parking and it’ll be easier to come into our town and shop,” she said.

The tax would raise about $2.7 million per year in its early years, and is projected to grow at a rate of about 3 percent yearly. Over the proposed 20-year-life of the plan, the tax would raise more than $72 million, or about $54 million in constant dollars, city administrator Gene Haroldsen said.

City leaders could use the tax to issue bonds that would raise money to build the Dorsey Drive interchange with the Golden Center Freeway. That would enable the city to build it faster and more cheaply, costing about $16.75 million, Haroldsen said. Current projections to build the interchange in phases take the cost to about $26 million.

It also could be used to fix deteriorating city infrastructure, and as a security to issue bonds for the city’s share of a downtown parking structure, parking improvements and the building of the proposed Wolf Creek Parkway.

Those four projects, only counting the city’s projected share of costs, would come to about $58.75 million.

Funds from the tax would go into a separate account and not be mixed with general fund money, Haroldsen said.

Councilwoman Patti Ingram asked for working in the measure to ensure the tax money would go only to the projects proposed. “It’s important for the citizens to know exactly where it’s going, and at no point in time could it be changed by a future council,” Ingram said.

City attorney Ruthann Ziegler said the city did not have the authority to tax only gasoline sales.

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To contact staff writer Trina Kleist, e-mail trinak@theunion.com or call 477-4231.


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