City Beat

News, insight and discussion on Sacramento and its neighborhoods

February 16, 2011
Don't expect Sacramento City Council to reverse 'crash tax'

Roseville seems poised tonight to be the first city in the region to repeal its "crash tax." I wouldn't expect the same from Sacramento.

Roseville city officials have said their crash fee program - which charges nonresidents if they cause auto wrecks within city limits requiring fire department response - hasn't lived up to expectations. It was expected to bring in $100,000 a year to the city. In about two years, it's generated $40,000.

You may remember that Sacramento once projected it would generate more than $1 million a year through its fee program, only to later downgrade that projection to between $300,000 and $500,000.

The City Council was widely criticized for its decision last month to enact a crash tax - known to those who support it as a fire cost recovery program. Business interests said it would dissuade people from spending money here. Insurance companies said it would lead to higher rates for all of us. And neighboring officials said it would work against regional cooperation.

Well, it doesn't appear the Sacramento program is going to be reversed. Both Mayor Kevin Johnson and Councilman Steve Cohn have told me they will not reverse their votes and other councilmembers who voted for it haven't indicated they will switch.

With Roseville on the verge of repealing its program, I reconnected with Jacqueline Cheung, an Elk Grove resident I interviewed last month after the Sacramento vote.

Cheung, who works downtown, told me this week she had spoken with her insurance company and that she was told her policy would not cover the fees.

"Again, I think this is bad policy," she told me. "I pay taxes, I buy food in Sacramento, I work downtown and most of the time I shop there."

It's been about three weeks since the City Council voted to enact the crash tax. Has it made you think twice about spending your money here?

Related stories:
L.A. Times: Avoid Sacramento and its 'crash tax'
Roseville may drop its 'crash tax'
Marcos Breton: Sacramento's 'crash tax' just the beginning of tough new polices

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About City Beat

Ryan Lillis has covered the city of Sacramento, its 108 neighborhoods and its politicians since 2008. Prior to that, he covered crime at The Bee. A native of upstate New York, Lillis has a journalism degree from the University of California, Berkeley.

Contact reporter Ryan Lillis at


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