Modesto · Politics

Modesto mulling sales tax hike to provide budget boost

A sales tax increase could soon be headed to the ballot in Modesto. 

In February, the Modesto City Council approved an agreement with San Francisco-based consulting firm, TBWBH Props and Measures, to explore public feedback for a potential sales tax increase. 

The measure the city is considering would be a one-percent sales tax increase. 

Revenue from the tax would go to Modesto’s general fund and is expected to total around $39 million annually. 

One in the general fund, the tax revenue would go toward various city services, including the police and fire department, paramedics, 911 emergency response, parks, traffic enforcement, litter abatement, abandoned property response, street and sidewalk maintenance and infrastructure improvements. 

TBWBH Props and Measures presented its initial findings to the financial committee in April. 

The firm polled a random sample of 1,117 registered voters who are considered likely to participate in the November election. 

The initial ballot test, after the voters read an example ballot language, saw the support sitting at 65 percent. 

After presenting both positive and negative arguments for the initiative, support dropped to 60 percent. 

However, the measure would just need a simple majority to pass, giving the confidence that the proposal has the potential to pass in November. 

Following the presentation, the committee voted 3-0 to direct the city manager to prepare a ballot measure for a one percent sales tax increase. 

The city paid TBWBH Props and Measures more than $49,000 to conduct the initial polling with the presentation to the financial committee. 

Tuesday, the city council will take a vote to consider a $114,000 deal with the consulting firm to develop objective information and education materials in the form of brochures, mailers and internet content regarding the measure. 

The deal would also contract TBWBH Props and Measures to consult on the use of different distribution, media outreach and social media platforms. 

An affirmative vote by the council on Tuesday would signal its intent to place the measure on the November ballot.

Daniel Gligich is a reporter for The San Joaquin Valley Sun, focusing on Fresno State Athletics and the southern San Joaquin Valley. Email him at daniel.gligich@sjvsun.com.