The Swarm

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July 19, 2012
Chamber urges City Council to seek smaller sales tax hike
On the eve of tonight's City Council debate on whether to let Sacramento voters decide on a sales tax increase, a major business group has softened its opposition.

A majority of council members appear inclined to put a measure on the Nov. 6 ballot to increase the local sales tax to help restore basic services that have been slashed during the budget crunch, particularly public safety.

The Metro Chamber sent a letter to council members urging them to limit any hike to a quarter cent, rather than a half cent because of "the potential for competitive disadvantage" with neighboring cities.

Increasing the rate from the current 7.75 percent to 8 percent would only put it a quarter cent higher than Elk Grove and West Sacramento and keep the difference with Roseville under 1 percentage point.

The Chamber is also pushing for a "sunset" clause that would automatically end the tax unless voters approve one again. It suggests four years, saying that should be sufficient "given the current forecasts of economic recovery and thus the recovery of your underlying tax base."

Like The Bee's editorial board, the Chamber is also proposing strict accountability. It wants separate budgeting of proceeds from a tax hike, an independent audit and a citizen oversight committee that includes representatives from the business community.

The business group also wants the police and fire departments to get a share of proceeds equal to their share of the 2012-13 budget.

The Chamber makes clear it is still has severe misgivings about increasing costs for business. But, wrote Chamber President and CEO Roger Niello, "We also understand and appreciate the concept of placing the decision before the voters for their ultimate decision."

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About The Swarm

The Swarm is written by members of The Sacramento Bee's editorial board. They meet daily and are separate from the newsroom. Views included here are those of individual writers, and do not necessarily reflect those of a majority of the board or the positions expressed in The Bee's editorials.

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