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No. The Sales Tax Measure does not apply to groceries, rent, mortgages, utilities, prescription medicine, or personal services, such as medical and dental services.
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The Special Election is May 5, 2020.
It is a mail ballot election, which means there will be no polling places. Ballots will be mailed to voters. Voters may mail or drop off ballots at designated drop-off locations, including the City Clerk’s Office. Ballots must be dropped off by May 5, 2020 or be postmarked on or before May 5, 2020 and received no later than May 8, 2020 to be counted.
The Sales Tax Measure is a one cent local sales tax, which, if approved by Blythe voters, would generate approximately $1.1 million per year that will go directly into the City’s General Fund. The City’s General Fund is used to pay for the City’s general operations, including police and fire services, blight and building abatement, and street and sidewalk improvements.
The City continues to experience stagnation in the local economy and the remaining effects of the Great Recession. Although the City’s General Fund is not currently running a deficit, there are minimal reserves available in the event unexpected City expenses exceed projected expenses. Further, the City has already made deep cuts to City expenditures, which has resulted in the elimination or reduction of key programs, positions and services in order to deliver a balanced budget. The City needs revenue enhancement measures in order to prevent further cuts, maintain City services and preserve the health, safety and general welfare of Blythe residents, workers, and visitors. The proposed tax measure is such a revenue enhancement measure.
The City could use the funds to maintain City services, address street repairs and other facility and operational needs. The funds could go to maintain public safety, the quality of life, and the services the community has come to expect that make Blythe a desirable place to live and work.
Examples of how the funds may be used:
The Sales Tax Measure funds would be deposited into the City’s General Fund and would be allocated by the City Council during the annual budget process. The funds would be subject to an annual independent audit.
If enacted, the tax will apply to common items such as clothing, furniture, and restaurant meals.
The tax would be paid by anyone who shops and dines in Blythe. This ensures that both residents and visitors contribute to revenue for public safety services and other resources they utilize while in Blythe. The City estimates about 50% of Measure revenue would be paid by non-Blythe residents.
If passed, a taxable purchase of $100 in Blythe would cost an additional $1.00.
The new rate would go into effect on October 1, 2020. At that time, the combined total sales tax rate in Blythe would become 8.75%. The funds would start being received in the first part of 2021.
The City expects to receive approximately $ 1.1 million annually. If approved, 100% of the funds raised by measure will stay in Blythe. Currently, the City receives 1% of the revenue collected from the 7.75% sales tax – the rest goes to the State or Riverside County.
No. However, this tax will make a significant difference in maintaining services and addressing some infrastructure needs.
One time election costs are estimated at $10,000, which will be paid directly to the County to administer the Special Election. The Special Election will be run by the Riverside County Registrar of Voters.
Yes. Approximately 95% of the state’s population live in one or more transactions and use tax areas.
While the measure will not, by itself, fix the City’s fiscal challenges, it would generate General Fund revenues that could be used to support City services, such as police and fire services, blight and building abatement, and street and sidewalk improvements. If the measure is not approved, the City would need to identify other revenue enhancement measures in order to avoid further expenditure reductions. These reductions could translate to further reduction or elimination of City services.