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County sales tax expected to generate $6 million if passed

HUMBOLDT COUNTY- Humboldt county voters are being asked to weigh in on a countywide sales tax measure this November.

Measure Z is a one-half cent sales tax that would generate an estimated $6 million dollars for the county. The tax would be applied to everything except prescription medications and groceries. If passed, the revenue would go towards the general fund, with an emphasis on financing public safety and emergency services. The measure would also create an advisory committee to make recommendations to the Board of Supervisors as to how the revenue should be spent.

“It is a general tax measure so it could be spent on county essential service but the board has clearly heard from the community about the priority for law enforcement and there will be this advisory committee in place as well to help ensure it goes where the people want it to go,” said Humboldt County Administrative Officer, Phillip Smith-Hanes.

According to Smith-Hanes, the Board of Supervisors proposed the measure after receiving several letters of public concern over the lack of funding available for public safety. In June, a countywide poll showed that nearly two-thirds of Humboldt County voters supported the measure.

But not everyone is supportive of proposed tax. Several cities within the county have their own tax measure on the ballot, leading to even steeper prices if Measure Z is passed. One of the sales tax’s biggest opponents is the Humboldt Taxpayer’s League. Although they agree funding emergency services is important, they say the combined taxes could drive shoppers away and hurt local economy.

"Although the idea of a local sales tax, we don't object to it in principle,” said Humboldt Taxpayer’s League President Jim Pell. “But because they're stacked and because we seem to have less influence at the state level we're merely adding to the burden of the buyer with no relief in sight.”

If passed, the measure will go into effect April 1 and will expire five years after that date.