Sierra 2 will host forum on sales tax measure

SCNA and the Land Park Community Association will present a forum on the Measure U sales tax proposal from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 11 at Curtis Hall in the Sierra 2 Center.

Measure U, which is on the November ballot, would enact a permanent 1-cent sales tax to maintain and enhance city services, including public safety, and allow the city to invest in youth, affordable housing, and economic development. This is a general tax that only requires a simple majority vote to pass. The revenues raised would be deposited into the city’s general fund and could be used for any municipal government purpose.

Mayor Darrell Steinberg will represent proponents. Craig Powell, president of the nonprofit watchdog group Eye on Sacramento, will represent opponents. The League of Women Voters of Sacramento County will moderate the forum.

Voters passed the existing Measure U in November 2012 as a temporary half-cent sales tax emergency response to city service cuts in the Great Recession. The sales tax will expire on March 31, 2019. According to the city, tax revenues from the expiring Measure U have been used to fund youth programs, park maintenance, community enrichment, policing and fire department services and to help restore library services.

“We would continue to use the first half-cent to pay for essential public services such as police and fire,” Mayor Steinberg wrote in a Facebook post in June. “But with the second half-cent, we could dream. We could use the money to help create an economy rich with good jobs and train young people from all our neighborhoods to fill them.”

The city’s website says Measure U would restore police and fire protection services, restore gang prevention programs and after-school programs that target at risk youth and would restore community centers, senior centers, pools and libraries.

Opponent Powell argues in his Eye on Sacramento blog that Measure U is an example of the city “shoveling millions of dollars out [the] back door of City Hall into the pockets of politically connected special interests at the expense of average Sacramentans.”

Powell says sales taxes are regressive and hurt low-income people the most, and the revenue raised from the sales tax is not earmarked for youth programs, housing, job creation, and police or fire protection.

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