Council says yes to sales tax


The proposed sales tax will be put before voters in a special election in June.

By Kevin Connelly/Special to The Malibu Times

The City Council Monday night unanimously decided to approve placing a proposed half-cent sales tax increase on the June 7 ballot for a special city election. The vote was unanimous.

The measure requires support from 66 and two-thirds percent of the voters for passage. It would raise the city’s sales tax from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent. Proponents say it would add $1 million to $1.2 million to the city coffers to be spent in a number of ways.

The additional funds would be spent on police, emergency and disaster services; youth, senior, educational, recreational and cultural programs; recreational facilities; and on parks and open space acquisition. A citizen’s oversight committee would advise the City Council on how to properly distribute the funds within these restrictions.

Councilmember Ken Kearsley was the most adamant member in support of the proposed sales tax measure.

“A half-cent sales tax increase will generate more value to the city,” he said. “It is [conducive to the] well-being of the community. It will be a boon to the economy.”

Kearsley said he believes more money for the city means better schools and public safety. He added that this would improve the property values in Malibu and thus benefit everyone in the community.

“[The city’s costs] are going to increase exponentially,” Kearsley continued. “Our reserve is going to dwindle [in the future]. A half-cent [sales tax increase] is going back to the betterment of the community.”

The sales-tax proposal also had its enemies at the meeting. Although Councilmember Jeff Jennings voted in favor of the tax, at the meeting, he said, “I have always believed that sales taxes are the most regressive form of taxations we experience in the United States.”

Jennings also alluded to the $50,000 it will cost the city to run a special stand-alone election and the fact that a half-cent sales tax increase would give Malibu the highest sales tax in the state, tying it with the cities of Alameda and Avalon.

Nevertheless, Jennings decided to vote in favor of the item saying that if 66 and two-thirds of the community is in favor of raising the sales tax, then he does not want to stop them from doing so.

The Chamber of Commerce conducted a last-minute survey before Monday night’s meeting. Chamber President Christine Rodgerson said they had only received a response from 10 percent of its members. She said more than half of those who did respond said they were either uneasy with or did not support the tax proposal.

Rodgerson said the chamber has many concerns about the tax, including the vagueness of the plan, the possible drop of overall sales, the taxation of Malibu residents and the fact that it may make Malibu noncompetitive with neighboring cities.

Mayor Pro Tem Andy Stern, reacting to the latter of these concerns, said, “I can’t see how a fraction of a penny will affect people coming to Malibu to shop.”

Stern said the 14 million tourists that Malibu attracts each year is double the number of annual tourists at Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon combined.

The council will hold a required second reading and adoption of the sales tax ordinance at the Feb. 14 meeting.