Backing sales tax hike, Petaluma council orders informal polling first

Petaluma City Council members on Monday expressed support for seeking an increase in the sales tax but first want to see if city employees, civic groups and the community would support a November ballot measure on it.

Informal polling will occur within the next three weeks, with council members and City Manager John Brown reporting their findings at the July 16 meeting. A ballot measure must be approved by Aug. 6 for the election.

Most council members said they would vote to place a tax measure on the ballot but questioned how much of an increase voters might support, how long a potential tax should be in place and whether any tax would pass.

The sales tax question was thornier for the council than that of increasing the city's transient occupancy tax, commonly called the hotel tax.

Faced with opposition Monday from hotel, inn and campground owners — virtually every sector of Petaluma's lodging industry — council members quickly rejected the idea of adding 2 percent to the 10 percent hotel tax.

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