South Lake Tahoe voters support Measure S
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake Tahoe residents will pay more for non-essential goods in the near future but they’ll also be rewarded with improved roads and better protection from wildfire with voters overwhelmingly passing a measure that will raise the sales tax.
Measure S, which was unanimously placed on the ballot by city council, will raise the sales tax in the city by 1%, from 7.75% to 8.75%. There were 8,766 total votes and 60% voted for the measure compared to 34% who were against it.
“I’m excited. This shows the residents are investing in the future of the city,” said first-year City Manager Joe Irvin who was all smiles Wednesday morning. “I think the city took a proactive approach as to what the measure actually will do and I’m happy and thankful that the city council had the courage to unanimously put it on the ballot.”
Irvin is thrilled the city will have a revenue source that the state can’t touch. He said the money raised will go to rehabilitating crumbling roads, making the city safe from wildfire and improving efficiency of snow removal.
Measure S is forecasted to annually raise about $5.4 million which the city said will be used to offset a looming $6.5 million deficit from the pandemic and the rising cost of providing services. Also, after the 2018 voter-approved Measure T vacation home rental restriction goes into effect at the end of this year, the city estimates they could lose up to $2.4 million in annual transient occupancy tax and $1 million in VHR fees.
Irvin said in the lead up to the election, without the measure passing, the city would be facing additional cuts and would have to reduce services that the residents desire.
Some who were opposed to the measure were worried on how the funds would be spent, but Irvin said the city will be transparent and that the measure mandates annual independent financial audits and reports to the community.
Another concern was that residents would be more impacted than visitors, but Irvin said 50% of sales tax dollars come from tourists.
Essential purchases such as groceries and prescription medication are exempt from Measure S.
The last time South Shore voters approved a sales tax hike was Measure Q in April 2005 when they enacted a 0.5% transactions and use tax, according to City Clerk Sue Blankenship.
“The city has reliable funding to improve the quality of life for all our residents,” Irvin said. “I think the future of the city is bright. We have a large list of projects and now we have a funding source. I’m ecstatic.”
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