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  • Writer's pictureNewsmakers with JR

SB City Hall Eyes Sales Tax Hike Ballot Measure; Plus - Teachers Strike Vote, Latest Tenant Battle, Old Town Goleta Peril

Santa Barbara's City Council, facing a budget shortfall of at least $7 million for the fiscal year that begins July 1, will soon decide whether to ask voters to raise their own taxes - again - to cover the projected deficit.

Council is scheduled next week to consider a measure for the November ballot to raise the city's sales tax rate by a half-cent, to 9.25 percent. The increase is estimed to bring in an additional $15 million annually, to close the gap between revenues and the costs of providing services, overwhelmingly salary, benefits and pensions for city employees.

Asking residents for a new tax hike is politically fraught, at a time when prices remain sky-high following several years of steep inflation.

A campaign to pass such a ballot measure also would be certain to face criticism from some residents unhappy with how the lefty council has handled monies from Measure C, a one-cent sales tax increase passed by voters in 2017, and earmarked for public works projects, including a new police station. A few months after passage, council members adopted a Project Labor Agreement, a sweetheart deal requiring union labor on city projects, thereby increasing costs; they also later approved expenditure of Measure C funds for short-term rentals of hotel rooms for homeless people, a highly contentious decision that drew public outcry.

Nick Welsh, Josh Molina and Ryan P. Cruz join the genial host on this week's edition of Newsmakers TV to break down the politics and policy implications of the proposal which, among other things, puts brand-new City Administrator Kelly McAdoo in the unenviable position of recommending a tax increase laden with political baggage as her first major act since arriving in town about a minute ago.

The gang also has all the latest on the strike authorization vote being taken by teachers in the SB Unified School District; the criminal charges brought by the City Attorney against owners of a Westside apartment building for (checks notes) improper delivery of eviction notices; and concerns that a new traffic and parking project will lead to gentrification of Old Town Goleta.

Plus: Hats off to Nick for his relentless reporting on the county's paucity of mental health services, in the wake of the Board of Supervisors' approval of funding for a dozen new short-term beds for acute patients.

All this and more, right here, right now, on Newsmakers TV.


Check out the latest episode via YouTube below or by clicking through this link. The podcast version is here. TVSB, Channel 17, airs the show every weeknight at 8 p.m. and at 9 a.m. Saturday and Sunday. KCSB, 91.9 FM, broadcasts the program at 5:30 p.m. on Monday.

Image: Pinterest.

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