The City of Willows, like other smaller North State cities, continues to struggle to provide public services to its residents. And now Willows, like other towns including Chico, is floating the possibility of a local sales tax increase.
This was the scene Thursday, at the Willows City Council Chambers on North Lassen Street, as council members, public safety representatives, and concerned citizens gathered to discuss the future measures needed, to fix the city's current financial situation. Willows Mayor Vince Holvik says, "With budgets being what they have been for the last five years, we've had to pull into our reserves.. We don't see 2012 being any better and we've had to make some dramatic cuts the last few years."
This mid-year budget meeting was solely held to discuss a new measure city officials say would help the financial situation in a big way. The measure, to increase sales tax half a cent or one-quarter of a percent over regular state taxes. "That would give us approximately another 500-thousand dollars in revenue, and that's pretty much right on track for what we've had as a deficit each one of the last five years," says Holvik.
And prevent officials from making yet another round of cuts. Willows City Manager Steve Holsinger says, "We've eliminated about 60% of our public works staff in the last 2 years. We have run 4 years in a row of deficit spending, and well over one million dollars of our reserves."
The meeting was packed with about 35 community members who brought concerns to the city management, after a recent public opinion survey has given to about 300 county voters; an alleged 18-thousand dollar expense in itself. And when citizens were asked whether they would be willing to pay the additional tax that would benefit local police, fire, and parks, the decision was split.
The city is also considering whether to combine law enforcement and city management with Orland and Glenn County. Their next meeting will be held February 28th.