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Santa Barbara Sales-Tax Rate Increase Measure C Draws Strong Voter Support

The Santa Barbara City Council has said revenues from a sales tax rate increase would be prioritized for road maintenance and building a new police station. Click to view larger
The Santa Barbara City Council has said revenues from a sales tax rate increase would be prioritized for road maintenance and building a new police station.  (Zack Warburg / Noozhawk photo)

The Measure C sales-tax rate increase on Tuesday's ballot gained easy approval from voters in the city of Santa Barbara.

As of 1 a.m. Wednesday, the measure had received support from 55.7 percent of voters, with 44.3 percent opposed.

It needed a simple majority of voter approval to pass, 50 percent plus one.

Measure C will raise the city’s sales tax rate to 8.75 percent from 7.75 percent.

City officials have said the 1-percent rate increase would bring in an estimated $22 million a year, and the general tax revenue could be spent on any general government services.

Supporters of Measure C have framed it as a way to pour more money into the city’s mounting costs for infrastructure maintenance, and as a sort of replacement for the now-defunct Redevelopment Agency which used dedicated tax dollars to pay for downtown improvement projects.

A sales tax rate of 8.75 percent would make it the highest in Santa Barbara County, but lower than other California coastal cities such as Santa Cruz, Santa Monica and Long Beach.

City Council members have said the funding priorities would be road maintenance and building a new police station, which is expected to cost at least $80 million with annual debt service of $8 million.

The current police headquarters at 215 E. Figueroa St. is cramped, outdated and not seismically sound, which is why the dispatch center was moved a few years ago to the Granada Parking Garage from the basement.

Arguments against Measure C have focused on the lack of spending restrictions, as a general tax, and the lack of sunset — it won’t ever expire.

Click here for coverage of the mayor's race. 

Click here for results from the three City Council races. 

Noozhawk managing editor Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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