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Independent Voice

Dixon City Council Discusses Possibilities of Tax Increase

Mar 06, 2024 01:30PM ● By Angela Underwood, photos by Angela Underwood
Resident Mike Hamilton letting council members know that without further educating the public on a proposed one-percent tax it may not be successful.

DIXON, CA (MPG) - The city of Dixon failed to pass a proposed one-cent sales tax on the last ballot measure because of officials, according to Dixon Vice-Mayor Kevin Johnson.

“Our responsibility is to educate the public and I don’t think we educated the public,” Johnson said at the Feb. 20 regular City Council meeting. 

But it is not that easy, according to Dixon city attorney Doug White, who said putting the measure on the item under the new business was at Johnson’s request. White said that bringing the matter back up begins the possibility of placing it on the ballot again this November.

“If we go through this process, it is important to remember most of the tax that would be collected by virtue of this comes from people that do not live in Dixon and a huge amount coming from the transportation corridor,” said White, adding that other taxes are potentially available.

White said officials need to figure out what type of bracket the new tax should be placed in: general or special account. The tax revenue would have to be spent on specific items in a general fund, creating a lower vote threshold.

“Special taxes essentially require a two-thirds vote and that is a very difficult threshold,” White said.

In creating the tax, White said, Dixon has looked at the surrounding city tax structures, a notion Councilmember Thom Bogue does not like.

“One thing I always have strong feelings against is when we are being used as a comparison of other cities around Dixon and what they are doing,” Bogue said. “We are a special city. Many of those cities are close to being broke, even with higher sales tax increase.”

Johnson said he “does not know how he feels about it.

“I certainly don’t want it to be the Evan Johnsons tax; that is not how I want it to turn out,” Johnson said. “It’s always about what is best for the city of Dixon.”

Johnson said “insistent comments” surround how the tax revenue will be spent.

“As a matter of fact, after the measure failed, there were certain members of the public that came up here and said it would be totally different if there was a very specific use of taxes,” Johnson said.

To make matters worse, Johnson said, Dixon is the only municipality in Solano County without a tax beyond what California requires.

“Every other community, for years, has anywhere from the lowest of 8.175 or higher,” said Johnson, adding Dixon’s needs and wants cannot be fulfilled with a tax increase.

Dixon City Councilmember Jim Ernst mentioned some of those wants and needs.

“We want larger parks and the paths that flow from place to place,” Ernst said. “We want things for our kids and adults’ recreation-wise and to support our police and fire.”

Mayor Steve Bird said he is not opposed to a tax that can help.

“When you think about all these parks we have going and roads, I think it is money that will be well spent and utilized.

However, according to the mayor, the other side of the coin is that California taxes are already so high.

“With inflation, our gasoline prices are outrageous, and it really puts a bad taste in people’s mouths, especially when we are all kind of struggling right now,” Bird said.

Regardless of any needs, White said, there is a particular way the government can communicate with the public, which is one reason the public did not fully understand.

“We are not allowed to use any city resources,” White said. “It is important for the public to know that the City Council does not have the inherent ability to advocate on its own behalf.”

Councilmember Don Hendershot said he wants to see parameters set on where the funds will go so “everybody knows” it is not a “slush fund.”

That is precisely what resident Mike Hamilton said. He told officials that others also wanted to know exactly where the new tax funds would go. Hamilton also agrees that the one percent tax could be used for needed road improvements but wants assurance from officials that they “earmark that money.”

City Treasurer James P. Ward Jr. agrees that the public could have been better educated with a better-written bill.

James P Ward Jr treasurer

 City Treasurer James P. Ward Jr., spoke at the Feb. 20 council meeting, letting officials know the ballot measure that failed for a one-percent tax increase partially failed because of the way it was written.

“It is something that can be done and is needed, so I advocate for it,” Ward Jr. said.

After the meeting, city of Dixon public information officer Madeline Graf said the council provided direction for staff to conduct two surveys to gather input from the community.

“The survey results will be used to better understand the community’s priorities and interest in a 1 cent sales tax measure for general city revenue purposes,” Graf said.