Proposal could raise Sacramento County sales tax for soccer stadium, arts and nonprofits

05/28/2014 12:15 PM

10/07/2014 8:44 PM

A coalition including the Sacramento Republic FC soccer team and a host of nonprofit organizations is circulating a proposal to raise the county’s sales tax rate, with proceeds going to a new soccer stadium, the Sacramento Zoo, the American River Parkway Foundation and other causes. Local governments also would get a significant funding boost.

The still-evolving proposal calls for the sales tax to increase one-eighth of a cent, to 8.125 percent. In Galt and the city of Sacramento, the one-eighth-cent increase would boost taxes to 8.625 percent.

The new tax would raise an estimated $25.3 million in the first year. Organizers want to place it on the November ballot, where it would need a two-thirds supermajority to pass, but first they have to get the county Board of Supervisors to sign off on the plan. The tax increase would be open-ended and wouldn’t expire.

Proponents say they hope to build broad political support by spreading the revenue to a multitude of programs, including the B Street Theatre relocation project and the proposed Powerhouse Science Center north of downtown. Other nonprofits could apply for funding, and millions would flow to local governments throughout the county.

“It’s about creating a big-tent approach that doesn’t leave anybody out,” said Bill Blake, managing director of B Street. The theater company would get $500,000 a year to help realize its long-awaited dream of moving to a larger location near Sutter Health’s hospital campus on the east end of midtown.

Sacramento political strategist Doug Elmets, who isn’t involved in the proposal, said the idea faces difficult odds. “They have their work cut out for them,” Elmets said.

One of the biggest challenges would be convincing county supervisors and voters that the tax isn’t “all about the soccer stadium,” Elmets added.

The soccer component is likely to garner the most attention, and perhaps the most controversy.

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