A Lompoc sales tax hike proposed to help ease the city’s financial woes appeared headed to victory, according to primary election results released late Tuesday night.
The city has asked voters to approve a 1-percent sales tax increase to boost revenue.
With all precincts reporting, 68.1 percent of voters were in favor and 31.9 percent were opposed, according to the Santa Barbara County Elections Division.
“I’m very appreciative of our residents and voters who have been supportive of the one-cent sales tax, that they really understand what the need is and that they are really supporting us trying to keep the dollars local and solve the issues we’re having with public safety, parks, library and streets,” Mayor Jenelle Osborne said.
Measure I required a simple majority or 50 percent plus 1 to pass. The council rejected another tax option that would have needed two-thirds voter approval, which is 66.7 percent.
An undetermined number of ballots will need to be counted in the days after Tuesday, since some vote-by-mail and provisional ballots won’t be received and counted by the end of the night. Official results will be certified later.
The sales tax measure, if approved, will raise the sales rate to 8.75 percent for 15 years.
Lompoc City Council members have wrestled for more than three years whether to put a sales-tax measure on the ballot, and a majority pushed for more budget cuts instead.
If approved and implemented, Lompoc hopes the increase will raise nearly $5 million annually for city coffers.
Specifically, the Lompoc Preservation of City Services Measure asked voters, “To maintain and improve public services, including neighborhood police patrols, firefighter staffing, gang enforcement, crime and vandalism prevention, street improvements, community and recreational services, park upgrades, reduction of long-term liabilities (which includes a potential savings of $21 million in interest payments), and other general city services, shall the measure establishing an additional maximum 1% sales tax, ending in 15 years, and estimated to generate $4,800,000 annually, be adopted?”
In addition to helping the city pay for public safety, parks and other services, some council members want the city to pay off a long-term liability involving pensions, a step expected to save $21 million in interest payments.
The tax hike would take effect in July, with the first revenue expected in October.
The council also included a sunset clause so that the Lompoc sales tax hike would end in 15 years
Other cities in Santa Barbara County have implemented sales tax increases recently.
Santa Maria voters approved Measure U in 2018, which raised the rate to 8.75 percent, and Santa Barbara’s sales tax rate also sits at 8.75 percent.
The highest sales tax in the Santa Barbara County currently is charged in Carpinteria at 9 percent.