Six cities face sales tax increases next week

(BCN)

Shoppers in six Bay Area cities will have to dig a little deeper into their pockets beginning April 1 when new sales tax rates go into effect.

Voters in Antioch, Corte Madera, Larkspur, San Anselmo, San Rafael and Scotts Valley passed the sales and use tax increases last fall ranging from a quarter cent to half a cent.

In most cases, the increases are designed to shore up budget shortfalls and pay for city and law enforcement services.

San Rafael’s sales tax rate will increase from 9 percent to 9.25 percent, the highest rate in Marin County.

The city’s sales tax has been in place for many years to fund basic services like police, fire and public works, according to Nancy Mackle, San Rafael’s city manager.

The quarter cent increase will go into improving public safety facilities, like the 911 communications center and the city’s fire stations.

“Homes and businesses alike want a safe community and want their basic services in place,” Mackle said. She noted that the increase is small enough that many consumers may not notice it at the cash register.

But some business owners worry that the tax increases could harm their bottom line.

“It’s just a reason why people might shop further or take longer making their decisions,” said Kelly Lopez, who owns Schwinn City Bike Shop in Antioch with her husband Ron.

Lopez worries the tax hike might nudge consumers out of Antioch, where the sales tax will go from 8.5 percent to 9 percent.

“Some of these towns are so close together that you don’t have to drive very far to not have the effect of the tax,” she said.

Bill Petrocelli, who has owned Book Passage in Corte Madera with his wife, Elaine for more than 30 years, is also opposed to the tax.

“The impact, of course, is not going to be good,” said Petrocelli, who called sales taxes “regressive.”

Corte Madera’s sales tax rate will increase to 9 percent from 8.5 percent.

“It hits hardest on the people who can least afford it,” he said. “People who can’t find an online service that isn’t collecting tax or buy from out of state.”

But Lopez also noted that many of her customers seem unaware that taxes are going up.

“If you’re giving good customer service it may not be an issue at all,” Lopez said.

In Larkspur and San Anselmo, the sales tax rate will go from 8.5 percent to 9 percent. In Scotts Valley, sales tax will go from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent.

(Copyright 2014 Bay City News ). All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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