Poll shows support for sales tax hike in Murrieta

61 percent support a one-cent increase; 70 percent back a half-cent bump.

More than 60 percent of the people who participated in a recent survey would support a one-percent sales tax hike in Murrieta if the City Council decides to add a measure to the November ballot.

The increase — which is only being studied at this point — would raise the city’s rate from 7.75 to 8.75 percent.

“With only the information provided in the ballot language, 61 percent of the likely November 2018 voters surveyed indicated that they would support the proposed one-cent sales tax to fund municipal projects and services,” according to the synopsis of the survey, which was presented to the council this week.

When the same voters were given the option of supporting a half-cent increase, the number jumped to 70 percent.

Thirty-two percent of the respondents — a random sampling of 746 voters surveyed by Encinitas-based True North Research — said they did not support a one-percent hike, listing as concerns the city’s existing tax burden, a need for more information and a worry about the money being “mismanaged.”  Eight percent were “unsure” or unwilling to share their vote choice.

Temecula voters approved a one-percent increase to that city’s sales tax rate in 2016, a measure that generates tens of millions in new revenue that has been used to spruce up parks, hire new police officers, open a new fire station, pave roads and more.

The ballot measure, Measure S, was a “general purpose measure” which only required a majority vote. The margin was narrow but the measure ended up passing after receiving 51 percent of the vote.

Supporters of the increase said Temecula needed to generate new revenue to prevent a “structural deficit,” which was projected for upcoming fiscal years based on rising costs for police and fire service. Foes said the City Council should have done more to trim operating costs or look harder at options such as starting the city’s own police and fire departments.

Murrieta has its own police and fire departments but it is facing similar issues with its budget, which was only balanced last year after the city banked higher-than-normal sales tax revenue tied to the new CarMax dealership on Madison Avenue, reduced the operating reserve limit from 27 percent to 25 percent and transferred around $265,000 from the economic contingency fund.

The City Council, which has shown a historic aversion to tax increases, has not decided whether to place a measure on the November ballot.

“I want to see the whole budget,” said Mayor Jonathan Ingram on Wednesday night, adding that a subcommittee of council members Kelly Seyarto and Randon Lane will be discussing the particulars of this year’s budget situation — every line item — at an upcoming workshop. “And they will be bringing back their recommendations to the full council for a goals setting session that we will be having.”

  1. There is no question that Murrieta needs a huge increase in sales tax revenues. The city cannot be reliably expected to prosper, maintain and expand public services, and retain valuable city employees during future times (times which will most certainly occur) of either cyclical or totally random and unexpected widespread economic downturns. HOWEVER: There are as many downsides and economic dangers in raising tax rates as there are potential benefits. The only reliable way to economically/safely raise sales tax revenue is to increase the overall volume of taxable sales. This means attracting and intensely courting many new potential sales tax generating businesses. Murrieta actually needs to initiate a Marshall-Plan like effort (on a local scale, of course) to bring in new retail businesses… promoting and catering to the needs of both established and potential entrepreneurs from hundreds of miles around, and doing everything possible to help them get established. This, more than anything else, is what will make Murrieta prosper in sales tax revenues.

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  2. […] conducted by True North Research of Encinitas — which can be found here — shows around 60 percent of likely voters would support a general use sales tax increase of one percent. The number jumped to 70 percent for a half-percent […]

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  3. We already pay enough in taxes, Murrieta needs to cut back on cadillac benefits, pensions and salaries for city employees. Rather than do that, it’s easier to reach deeper into our pockets which are already empty from sky high taxes.

    Deep cuts across the city budget is where this process needs to start.

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