California’s three-year long economic crisis continues and every city in California is feeling the impact.
Libraries are being closed, police officers and firefighters are being laid off, city services are being cut, and City Managers and elected officials are under more pressure today than ever before. Voters are angry and impatient, and anti-tax groups are becoming more organized and vocal.
Yet, in November more cities are putting on tax measures than ever before and many will pass. In June, 19 California communities put local tax measure on the ballot, 11 general fund measures, and 8 special tax measures requiring a 2/3 majority. Of the 11 general fund measures on the ballot 9 passed, or 82 %. Of the 8 special tax measures on the ballot, requiring a 2/3 majority to pass, 5 passed or 63%.
Here are some tips about passing a tax measure even in the most trying times:
Take the time to plan carefully: A measure that is put on the ballot hastily will likely fail. Make sure that your measure identifies the most important needs of your city while still taking in to account what your voters will tolerate.
Know the tax tolerance of your community: Remember, just because a neighboring community passed a big tax, doesn’t mean that your city will be able to. Every community is unique with its own history and needs.
Don’t assume that the average voter understands your needs: Voters are being bombarded by information about waste in State and local government and out of control pension plans. You may have not have these problems, but if you don’t communicate your needs specifically, chances are voters will not respond favorably. Make sure that your community is informed about a potential revenue measure before it is placed on the ballot.
Think small before you think big: No tax is big enough to solve all of your needs. Many revenue measures fail because the city, school district, or special district, waited too long and the problem became so big, that it needed a large tax to fix the whole problem. A modest tax is better than no tax at all. Show your community that you spent their money wisely, and they are likely to reward you at renewal time with a modest increase.
Minimize opposition: It is rare that a tax measure will pass if there is serious, organized and well-funded opposition. Meet with all segments of the community to let them know why the revenue is needed. Then you can get a realistic assessment of potential opposition and make an educated decision before moving forward.
Get the help you need: There are experts in passing revenue measures. Use them. The relatively small cost will save you money in the long term. There is no bigger waste of money than money spent on a losing election.
For more information, please visit Tramutola LLC