Santa Barbara County Sales Tax for a North County Jail, Measure S (November 2010)

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A Santa Barbara County Sales Tax for a North County Jail, Measure S ballot proposition was on the November 2, 2010 ballot for voters in Santa Barbara County.[1] It was defeated.

The question facing voters was whether to approve an additional half-cent sales tax on any purchases made within the county. The tax would have raised about $30 million a year. The tax would have gone into effect on July 1, 2011, lasting for 14 years.[2]

Without the higher tax, Santa Barbara's sales tax will stay at 7.75%. With the higher tax, the sales tax in the county would have been 8.25%.

Half of the new revenue generated from the tax, if it had been approved, would have gone to build and operate a new 304-bed jail in Santa Maria.[3] A two-thirds supermajority vote was required for approval.

The other half of the income generated from the tax would have gone to:

  • Programs to reduce the number of repeat offenders.
  • Fire district budgets.
  • More law enforcement.

Santa Barbara County's main jail is in Goleta. In 2010, it was operating at 120% of capacity. The county was under a court order to reduce overcrowding.

Election results

  • Yes: 48,590 (39.24%)
  • No: 75,250 (60.76%) Defeatedd

Election results are from the Santa Barbara County elections division as of November 27, 2010.

A two-thirds supermajority vote was required for approval.

{{California counties}}


"Yes on S" television ad

Supporters of Measure S included Sheriff Bill Brown. He said that Measure S would help the county deal with its chronic problem of jail overcrowding.[2]

Rick Roney, the former chairman of the county’s Blue Ribbon Commission on jail overcrowding, was also a supporter of Measure S. He said, "Nobody likes taxes. But let’s not take our anger and frustration out on our families, on our kids, on our neighbors, on our community, because that’s who’s going to pay the price if this measure fails."[4]

Rich Glaus, a retired Santa Barbara city deputy police chief, was a supporter of Measure S.[4]

The campaign to urge a "yes" vote on Measure S raised more than $70,000 in contributions through early October, spending about half of that on local television advertisements.[5]

Donations to the committee came from, among others:

  • Santa Barbara County Deputy Sheriff’s Association ($20,000)
  • Peace Officers Research Association of California ($5,000)
  • Service Employees International Union Local 620 ($5,000)
  • Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown’s re-election campaign ($5,000)
  • Richard Roney, the former chair of the county’s Blue Ribbon Commission on jail overcrowding ($5,000)[5]


"No on S" campaign logo

A group of opponents submitted arguments against the measure for the official ballot guide. They ssaid, "For over 20 years, the county has known additional jail space may needed. But every year they spend the money elsewhere, instead of planning ahead."[6]

Opponents included David Stockdale, a business owner in Santa Maria; Berto van Veen, an Orcutt businessman, Gregory Gandrud, chairman of the Santa Barbara County Republican Party; and Bob Nelson, a business owner in Santa Maria.

Van Veen said, "This is a really bad time to increase taxes. If they want to build a new jail and they have the finances for it, then do it. But just a month ago, (the county supervisors) discussed closing the Santa Maria jail because they have no money/ They have to look within their own resources instead of going to the people for more money."

Andy Caldwell, a radio host and executive director of the Coalition of Labor, Agriculture and Business, was also opposed. He said, "Why don’t they tighten their belt instead of reaching into your pocket? Why don’t they roll back salaries and pensions to pay for this? Why do they think you have more money than their own employees?"[4]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Measure S: Shall the County of Santa Barbara Ordinance to strengthen front-line law enforcement and fire protection within the County of Santa Barbara and Buellton, Carpinteria, Goleta, Guadalupe, Lompoc, Santa Barbara, Santa Maria, and Solvang and Carpinteria-Summerland, Montecito and County Fire Districts, construct and operate a 304-bed jail, repair existing correctional infrastructure and fund repeat offender reduction efforts and alternatives-to-incarcerations, with a 1/2 percent Transactions (Sales) and Use Tax increase beginning 7/01/2011 through 6/30/2025, and advisory committee oversight be approved? ?[7]

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