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Poll Shows Support for Sales Tax Hike

A majority of Ventura County voters would support a sales tax increase to pay for road improvements and other transportation projects in their neighborhoods, a poll released Friday concludes.

About 63% of Ventura County voters would pay an extra 1/4- or 1/2-cent in sales taxes to pay for better streets and highways, according to a survey of 500 registered voters likely to vote, the Ventura County Transportation Commission learned.

That figure is up from 60% of voters polled 18 months ago in 1994, days before transportation commissioners opted not to ask voters to approve a half-cent sales tax increase.

But Max Besler, who conducted both surveys, recommended Friday that the commission place a 1/4-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot--a proposal that would raise $15 million a year over the next decade.

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“Ten years seems to be the level at which you could reasonably expect support,” he told the county Transportation Commission.

County consumers now pay a 7 1/4-cent sales tax on most goods and services. Two-thirds of Ventura County voters would have to approve any increase before it could be passed.

Ventura County voters failed to approve a similar proposal in 1990.

Transportation commission members stopped short of saying they would support placing the measure on the November ballot.

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But they voted unanimously on Friday to direct staff to keep the option open by alerting Sacramento lawmakers that they might want the measure on the fall ballot. The Legislature must know by Jan. 19 if the commission plans to pursue the measure further. A final decision is likely in late spring or early summer.

“I see it as significantly different than the plan that was presented [in 1994],” Commissioner Michael Wooten said. “Whether that will be enough for the voters, I don’t know.”


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