Palm Springs, CA
In a unanimous vote, the Palm Springs City Council voted to place a sales tax increase on the November ballot.
"The reason for it is to maintain our excellent public safety, our Fire and Police, at levels that are necessary because we’re getting a lot more calls every year as our city continues to grow and our tourism increases," said Palm Springs City Councilman Geoff Kors.
"It only makes sense that we need to start considering the impact that it does on our fire and police services. There is a need to increase our personnel," said Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes.
If approved by voters in November, the sales tax in Palm Springs will increase from 8.75 percent to 9.25 percent. The highest tax rate of any city in Riverside County. However, some Palm Springs residents feel that the city should think less about increasing taxes and more about the city’s unfunded pension costs.
"The council refuses to make spending adjustments to reflect this new financial reality instead they keep addressing and enacting new taxes," said Palm Springs resident Andrew Hirsch.
The increase is expected to put an extra $6.7 million dollars in city coffers.
"Nobody likes taxes. I’m willing to not oppose the taxes I guess more than anything," said Palm Springs business owner Joy Meredith.
The city council also updated the existing tax on medical marijuana to include adult use cannabis businesses as marijuana laws change come January 1.
"We’re just going to take our existing tax and make sure it applies to everyone fairly. It’s going to be the exact same tax that’s on the businesses," said Kors. "Plus there will be a tax on people who want to grow marijuana to sell at ten dollars a square foot. Which is very consistent with what other cities around the state are doing."
At the council meeting Wednesday night, Council members Chris Mills and Ginny Foat announced their decision to not run for re-election.
Mills served on the council for 14 years and Foat for 16 years.
It is not known if the decision made by the council members has anything to do with the on-going investigation into Palm Springs city hall or the charges against former mayor Steve Pougnet, developers Richard Meaney and John Wessman which is in the early stages of criminal prosecution.