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Oroville City Council Considers New Sales Tax

City leaders are hoping a one-percent sales tax on the November ballot could help drum up additional revenue.

Posted: Jul 10, 2018 7:27 PM

The city of Oroville has faced some financial challenges in recent years.

In August of last year, the city council agreed to a 10 percent salary cut for Oroville police officers.

And in January they approved a 10 percent salary reduction for public safety employees.

Now, city leaders are hoping a one-percent sales tax on the November ballot could help drum up additional revenue.

“It's really trying to get us over the hump of the hard times that we're facing,” Oroville mayor Linda Dahlmeier said. “And people know that there's a hard time everywhere. It's not just Oroville.”

The tax measure would generate generate an estimated $3.6 million annually which would go into the city's general fund.

But just two years ago, a similar measure was placed on the ballot but failed to get the required 51 percent of votes.

“So it's like a carbon copy of what we voted on two years ago,” Oroville resident Steve Christensen said. “And the demographics of the area has not changed. The poverty rate is still low, the income is still low.”

Christensen has lived and worked as a barber in Oroville for 57 years.

He said it's a financially struggling community, and even the smallest sales tax will hurt folks.

“Two years ago, they were quoting anywhere between 36 and 42 percent poverty in Oroville,” Christensen said. “So a few dollars means a lot to some people.”

But Dahlmeier said the financial impact on regular folks will be minimal.

“If your family of four or six spends up to $1,000 a year on toilet paper and shampoos and stuff, you're looking at it costing less than $10 a year for the additional sales tax,” she said. “And I think that is a small amount to pay for the increased benefit that it would bring to our community.”

Interim director of the Oroville-area Chamber of Commerce Wilma Compton said the latest sales tax measure will be a tough sell for the city, but they should take note of residents' concerns.

“And I think the public comment period today is a really good time for the city council to get what the public perception is if they're going to have the public buy into and be able to approve it this time,” Compton said.

Dahlmeier said, if approved, any funds generated from the sales tax will go into the city's general fund.

But whether they decide to dedicate those funds to any specific city department is something they'll have to discuss further.

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