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Here’s how San Luis Obispo’s 1.5% sales tax revenue is being spent

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City of San Luis Obispo
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Local Revenue Measure G at a 1.5 percent rate is expected to provide approximately $21,600,000 annually for San Luis Obispo services and public infrastructure.

In 2006, the San Luis Obispo City Council passed a half percent sales tax measure. Then in 2020, the city increased that sales tax to one and a half percent. That went into effect in April of 2021.

Now the city is detailing how that sales tax was spent in the last fiscal year and how the increase affected funding.

The goal of this sales tax measure, known as Measure G, is to fund essential services and facilities within the city. That revenue totaled $12.8 million in the 2020–21 fiscal year.

City of San Luis Obispo Principal Budget Analyst, Natalie Harnett, said the increase that went into effect in the last quarter of the fiscal year generated an extra $3.4 million.

That was all invested into pandemic-related economic recovery impacts.

“Council took the initiative to just take that one quarter of additional funding that we hadn’t programmed and put it directly into investments into economic development efforts and homeless services,” Harnett said.

She said things like downtown pop-up events and parklets were funded this way. She said of the other $12.8 million collected, more than 50 percent of those funds went toward public safety and neighborhood street paving.

“Street reconstruction and resurfacing is one of the biggest areas that the local revenue measure helps fund,” Harnett said.

The rest of the funds helped contribute to San Luis Obispo’s flood protection, open space preservation, parks programs and bike and pedestrian improvements.

The Miossi Open Space and its public trails were funded by the local revenue measure. It also supported a portion of the Marsh Street Bridge Project.

“[The city of San Luis Obispo] completely replaced that over 100-year-old bridge," Harnett said. "We also had some public art done along the side of it.”

Other city projects like Laguna Lake dredging, downtown pavement improvements, the new Railroad Safety Trail and the Orcutt-Tank Farm roundabout are all funded by the local sales tax revenue.

Harnett said the next fiscal year is expected to see a large boost in revenue collection with the implementation of the one percent sales tax increase.

A report of the 2020-21 fiscal year revenue spending is available on the city’s website. It will also be sent to all city residents with their April water bill.

Rachel Showalter first joined KCBX as an intern from Cal Poly in 2017. During her time in college, she anchored and reported for Mustang News at Cal Poly's radio station, KCPR. After graduating, she took her first job as a Producer at KSBY-TV. She returned to the KCBX team in October 2020 and now reports daily for KCBX News. Rachel spends her off-days climbing rocks, cooking artichokes and fighting crosswords with friends.
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