Is Fresno Facing ‘Tax Overload’? Council Sends Latest Proposed Hike to Voters
Fresno voters will have one more tax increase to consider this November. The Fresno City Council voted Thursday to place a new sales tax increment on the ballot — this one dedicated to supporting military veterans.
The proposal passed unanimously, 7-0. It had the support of Councilman Garry Bredefeld, a veteran himself and noted tax fighter.
“I think we frankly are way overtaxed as a society. But there’s clearly a need for veterans,” Bredefeld said. “This is something we’re also going to be very proud of as we continue to support veterans.”
The one-eighth sales tax would last for 20 years. One-third would be dedicated to capital projects, including improvements to the city-owned Fresno Veterans Memorial Auditorium. Funds could also be used for repairs and upgrades to VFW/American Legion facilities, as well as housing for homeless veterans.
One-third of the tax would be dedicated to funding veteran service programs.
The remaining one-third is not specifically allocated. That amount could be spent on either capital projects or services.
Supporters estimate it will raise $19.5 million a year.
“This is long overdue. Our veterans … deserve nothing but the best,” Councilman Miguel Arias said.
The initiative would also create a seven-member oversight committee, comprised of all veterans.
A recent survey conducted by a city consultant found 74% support for the tax.
Three Local Taxes Could Be Decided in November
Measure V would require a two-thirds majority to pass. Only voters within the Fresno city limits will decide.
This is potentially the third local tax city residents will be deciding on. Leaders are looking to extend Measure C, the current half-cent sales tax devoted to transportation projects, while a community-led proposal to raise money for Fresno State would add one-fifth of a cent to the local sales tax rate.
In June, voters renewed a one-tenth percent sales tax increment for Measure Z, dedicated to the Fresno Chaffee Zoo.
Measure P, a three-eighths percent city sales tax for parks, went into effect in July 2021.
Consultant Alex Tavlian says they tested whether there could be “tax overload” on the ballot.
“What we found was even folks who were responding saying that the rising cost of living and also a number of measures on the ballot was a deterrent to them voting in favor of it,” Tavlian said.
But, the polling numbers show those objections were not “statistically significant.”
“It is something that is worth addressing. It’s something that we will have to focus on as we get closer to November. But I will note that it is not at the present moment a high target. For us, it’s really more about making sure that it doesn’t become an issue as we get closer to November,” Tavlian said.