Santa Paula Times

State Controller: Sales tax redistribution plan could bolster Santa Paula economy

August 27, 1999
Santa Paula News
For Santa Paula and others on the lower economic strata it would be a dream, for cities like Thousand Oaks it could be considered a nightmare, but either way it’s going to be an interesting battle if the way sales tax is distributed is revamped. On August 19 the state controller proposed a new formula of dividing local sales taxes that would shift tens of millions of dollars from communities with mega-shopping outlets and auto malls to areas that lack major sources of sales tax revenues.The change would rely on distributing sales tax based on population rather than where the actual sale took place and would be phased in over a decade.State Controller Kathleen Connell based the task force created proposal on better land use and economic planning for cities that have been losing out on sales tax revenues, putting industrial and housing development on the front burner of cities instead of malls and auto centers. The task force included representatives of local governments and business executives.Santa Paula is among those Ventura County cities that lose out big time because of shoppers’ flight to mega-malls. Many cities in the same fiscal boat have launched shop at home efforts much like the “Shop Santa Paula!” campaign, but consumers point at a lack of major buying opportunities that cause them to shop elsewhereSanta Paula Mayor Jim Garfield said he would have to study the plan and see what it would do for the city, but “I’m in favor of it because I’m not in favor of having big box stores off Highway 126 like off the 101 corridor. . .that wouldn’t work here,” he noted. But, “I would certainly like to see some revenue sharing.”
The task force’s sales tax redistribution plan would be up to the voters to amend the state constitution, something Garfield isn’t sure would happen. “I don’t know if it would happen through the voters as the bigger cities would want to keep the money, but, by the same token, they want us to stay rural and pristine so they can see it. . .they need to help us stay that way with their money instead of their mouths.”Santa Paula ranks near the bottom of sales tax distribution, tying with Moorpark at 1.9 percent; Fillmore is last with 0.8 percent, slightly below Port Hueneme 0.9 percent and Ojai with 1.2 percent. Not surprisingly, Thousand Oaks, home to the Oaks Mall and a mega-car dealership city, ranks first in sales tax revenue receipts at 25.1 percent.