The conversations surrounding the reallocation of the ½-cent sales tax raise two questions. The first is whether a change would reflect the intent Proposition A as it was presented to the voters and second, what is the obligation of elected officials to maintain the intent of voter-approved propositions?
The sales tax, Proposition 1, was on the Aug. 3, 2021, ballot for its seventh five-year renewal to continue to fund critical projects and improvements distributed in the following categories and amounts:
Public works: $16,520.000 (59 percent).
Public safety: $5,600,000 (20 percent).
Parks: $2,800,000 (10 percent).
Technology: $560,000 (2 percent).
Contingency: $2,520,000 (9 percent).
City-county projects: $5,500,000 (2 percent).
Voters affirmed and approved the renewal of the city's half-cent sales tax, as presented, with 72.66 percent of the vote. The tax passed 1,164-438 votes. The sales tax was estimated to generate $28 million during five years, sunsetting in 2026.
Would the voters have supported the tax had the redistribution currently proposed by Councilmen Spencer and Schwartz? We do not know, but it was apparent the original distribution was supported by the voters of the city. As Councilman Schwartz indicated, these funds belong to the people of the city.
Responding to the second question, any proposition supported more than 70 percent of a voter base clearly reflects its intended support. While newly elected officials bring new energy and ideas for consideration, there is an underlying responsibility to the voters's intent. Perhaps the responsible path forward would be to wait until 2026 for a redistribution of the ½-cent sales tax. The voters can then express their approval of a new plan.