Tax extension proposal lacks sunset clause

On Nov. 5, Rohnert Park residents will have a choice to make.  The City Council has submitted a proposal for a half-cent sales tax extension to the voter’s ballot.  Though the measure is aimed to assist Rohnert Park’s funding, the lack of a sunset clause may cause voters to be weary.

The Press Democrat reports that the Nov. 5 ballot will ask Rohnert Park to extend the half-cent sales tax permanently, or until the City Council votes to suspend it.  Three years ago, voters approved this half-cent sales tax to maintain city services in the face of a $5 million deficit. 

In June 2010, voters approved Measure E, raising the city’s sales tax rate to 9.5 percent. The Press Democrat also reports that there are currently no groups in opposition of keeping the city’s sales tax at 9.5 percent.  

The proposition will not add a new half-cent tax, but simply keep the tax they voted for three years ago indefinitely. It seems as though keeping the increased sales tax may positively affect many public workers in our community.

The money raised from this tax will contribute to the preservation of the safety and character of Rohnert Park.  It will maintain and protect general city services, which include emergency response, fire protection and police patrol.  It will also include gang and sex offender enforcement, disaster preparedness, street repair and other services aimed towards a safe and civil community.  

The tax will also fund public workers with more money and more employment.  

“I saw that the fire station in M section was vacant for a day,” said Sonoma State student and resident of M-Section neighborhood Billy Minor. “I though to myself, ‘How could there not be any firefighters on call for emergencies?’ I thought this was a huge problem. If this half-cent sales tax increase will solve that problem, I am for it; especially because my cousin Aaron Johnson is a Rohnert Park firefighter.”

Measure A information on rpcity.org states that four years ago, Rohnert Park’s budget deficit was $6 million.  With the passing of the sales tax in 2010, it has been reduced to $1.8 million.  

According to the website, “Rohnert Park’s new leadership team had stabilized the City’s budget and reformed employee pensions, and Measure A keeps things on the right track by continuing local funding that helps protect our services without raising existing taxes.”  

If this Measure is passed on Nov. 5, Sacramento will not be able to take any of our local funding.  In last year alone, Sacramento has taken $1.4 million from Rohnert Park’s general fund budget.  

Since the passing of the sales tax in 2010, the city has been able to reduce crime rates and the its budget deficit, simultaneously keeping the Spreckels Performing Arts Center open, as well as the Senior Center. 

Rohnert Park city council members and the public informer for the Rohnert Park police department did not return requests for comment.