Poll Results: Would Shasta County Approve a Sales Tax Increase to Fund the Jail Expansion?

Later today, the Board will decide whether to put a 1% sales tax increase on the ballot this November to fund the construction and ongoing operational costs of expanding the jail.

To determine if this is the right decision for the county, some important questions need to be asked and answered – I outlined 6 here and hosted a community discussion about them 2 weeks ago. I’ve done some preliminary research on each and will share it soon.

However, if I had to make the decision the Board will make on Tuesday without that information, it would come down to one question:

Would people vote to approve the tax increase?

Why is this the key question for me? Because I would not vote to put a sales tax on the ballot that I didn’t think would pass – even if I was convinced the sales tax was the right action for the county.

Multiple efforts to increase the sales tax to improve public safety have failed in the last several years despite having more time to educate voters and public officials working hard to champion them. To believe a sales tax increase would pass in November, you’d have to believe that public opinion has changed – but has it?

I decided to check, launching a poll about 2 weeks ago. With your help and the help of several data-driven individuals who spread the word, we have gotten 885 responses (almost 1% of all Shasta County voters!) to 1 simple question:

Would you support a 1% sales tax increase in Shasta County to fund jail expansion and operations?

 

To pass a tax increase, we would either need the 24.1% who said yes to a restricted tax increase to exceed 66% of the total vote or the 3.3% who said yes to a general tax increase to exceed 50% of the total vote. Both are nowhere near close.

The 21.7% who would like more information first show how significant the need is for education. If Board members vote to put this on the ballot but say they will not support it themselves (as 2 have said already), then who will do the education needed to help voters make informed decisions? No one.

So, no, I would not vote to put this on the ballot this November. There may be a time when we have considered all other options and I become convinced a sales tax increase is worth it. If that time comes while I’m in office, I will throw myself fully behind the effort to engage you in a conversation about why we need it and how it will benefit us - just as I did in my campaign.

But we’re not there. We’re not ready. Let’s wait.

We have other solutions (which I’ll discuss more in the future). Let’s pursue them now.


Few closing thoughts:

  1. If you want to influence the Board’s thinking, contributing to a poll like this that gives a clear indication of what the majority of Shasta County residents think is a key way to do that. If you haven’t filled out the poll yet, can you today? I’d love to get to 1,100 responses, which is 1% of all registered voters in the County and an incredible feat.
  2. I will share the write-in responses and responses to “Could you explain why you answered the previous question the way you did? (optional)” as soon as I can make my way through all of them on my website here. If anyone from the County wants access to the raw data (aside from people’s email addresses), I’m happy to share it.