City of Salinas Sales Tax Increase, Measure K (November 2009)
Measure K asked Salinas voters to approve an increase in the state sales tax rate within the city for city government's discretionary use. The state sales tax was 8.25% at the time of the election but the rate within the city of Salinas was 8.75% because an earlier city tax measure, Measure V, which passed in 2005 adding one-half of a percentage point to the rate within the city. Measure K proposed adding a whole percentage point to the city's exiting rate making it 9.75%. This would have been the highest rate in Monterey County.
Measure K, like Measure V, proposed a "general tax" which means city officials would have been free to spend the tax money without restraint. There was no sunset provision in Measure K and only a simple majority vote was required for approval. 
City officials claimed the new tax would have added $18-$20 million to city government's coffers and promised to spend the additional tax money to hire 84 police officers and build a new police station. A similar promise was made by city officials when they promoted Measure V.
The population of Salinas was about 150,000 in 2009, with about 50,000 registered voters. Mail balloting began on October 5 and ended October 27, after which voters had to vote absentee in person at the county elections office or at their polling place on November 3.
- These final, certified, results are from the Monterey County elections office.
The group supporting Measure K was known both as the "Yes on K" campaign and as "A Penny for Peace." They hoped to raise $90,000 for their campaign. Through September 15, they had raised $4,120.
The "Yes on K" group hired the Lew Edwards Group to get Measure K passed. According to a local newspaper, "The Oakland-based consultant represents cities and school districts conducting ballot initiatives. Lew Edwards Group also did a poll for the city earlier this year that predicted voter support for a sales tax measure."
Police Chief Louis Fetherolf told a local newspaper in August that although he's not allowed to advocate on behalf of ballot measures, in his view, the City of Salinas needs more police officers: "We have many very capable people, but we simply don't have enough we are so far behind the curve."
A "No on K" committee was formed. It reported having raised $314 in contributions through mid-September.
Brett Landon was the leader of the "No on K" group. Landon said, "They're going to outspend us, that's guaranteed. We're not going to try to match them dollar for dollar. But we hope that some of the businesses will start stepping up, they're the ones who will be hurt by this tax. The businesses we've asked have been very helpful. Some who turn it down say their finances are too tight; the economy is awful for them and they have no resources to give."
The Salinas city budget was under pressure in 2009. City tax revenues were not keeping pace with service costs and as a result, the city thought it might have to lay off up to 68 city workers beginning in September unless new revenue was found or employees made significant pay concessions.
The question on the ballot:
|Measure K: "To protect residents by increasing youth gang/violence prevention; after-school recreation/mentoring; expanding job training; hiring more police to patrol neighborhoods/schools; retaining firefighters/paramedics; establishing community policing; prostitution prevention; crime fighting technology; and protecting essential services, shall Salinas's transactions and use (otherwise known as sales) tax be increased one cent, requiring independent audits, citizens oversight, public expenditure reports, with all funds only for Salinas, not for Sacramento?"|
- Salinas City Attorney, "Measure K 'Impartial Analysis'", August 10, 2009
- The Californian, "Budget pressures put Salinas sales tax plan on front burner", July 28, 2009
- City Watch, "Chief of Police Daniel Ortega: Vote yes on V", October 2005
- KION-TV, "Five Ballot Measures in Monterey Co. Election", October 9, 2009
- The Californian, "Salinas' Measure K campaign fundraising off to slow start", September 29, 2009
- KION Right Now, "Chief Fetherolf Says More Cops are Needed", August 25, 2009