Exeter to hold Q&A on Measure P

City of Exeter officials will hold live community meeting on Facebook this Thurs. regarding its one cent sales tax measure on the ballot

EXETER – Surveys this spring show overwhelming support for Exeter’s sales tax measure on this fall’s ballot, but city leaders want to give residents one more chance to get their questions answered on Measure P.

The City of Exeter will be holding a community outreach meeting at 6:30 p.m. this Thursday, Oct. 15 on Zoom and simultaneously streaming live on its Facebook page. City administrator Adam Ennis said the meeting will begin with a brief overview of the one cent sales tax measure before opening it up to questions from the public via Facebook and answered live by city officials.

“We are not pushing for this sales tax measure,” Ennis clarified. “This is purely informational and we want to give the residents whatever information we can and try to answer as many questions as we can.”

The measure would increase sales tax within the city limits by one percent bringing it to 8.75%, bringing Exeter’s rate equal to similar sized cities such as Farmersville, Lindsay and Woodlake. It would be 25 cents higher than Visalia and Dinuba but 75 cents lower than Porterville. Exeter is currently at 7.75%, the base rate for Tulare County sales tax.

If it passes, Measure P would be the first citywide sales tax measure ever passed by the city. It is projected to bring in an additional $800,000 per year in revenue, according to city officials. Revenue from the sales tax would go toward the city’s general fund where it would primarily fund public safety (police and fire) and public works (water, sewer and roads) but could be used for other needs if those issues are adequately addressed.

The Exeter City Council voted unanimously on July 28 to select the description for Measure P which appears on this fall’s ballot. It reads, “To protect Exeter’s long-term financial stability; maintain 911 emergency response; keep the community safe; prevent crime’ repair streets/potholes; help retain local businesses; keep public areas and parks clean/safe; support youth/senior programs, and other general City services; shall the measure establishing a 1 [-cent] sales tax providing approximately $800,000 annually until ended by voters.”

Measure P requires a simple majority, or 50% of the vote plus one, to pass. Preliminary surveys in the spring showed three-quarters of voters were either definitely or likely to vote in favor of the sales tax measure. About 8 in 10 residents rated public safety, water reliability and repairing streets and potholes as their top priorities and nearly. Three-quarters of those surveyed supported youth programs and preparing for public health emergencies and droughts.

Finance director Chris Tavarez said the council also passed several accountability measures including a bond oversight committee of citizens, annual independent audits, an annual spending plan approved by the council at a public meeting during its annual budget hearings, and that the money will be tracked separately from the rest of the General Fund to make it easy for residents to find in budget documents on the city’s web site.

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