Voters in Palm Springs approved a higher sales tax aimed at generating more revenue for the city’s growing public safety needs. Measure D was approved by voters in a 57 to 43 percent margin in the city during Tuesday’s local elections.
The tax measure would raise the city’s sales tax from 8.75 percent to 9.25 percent. City officials estimated it would generate about $7 million for the city’s general fund. City Manager David Ready said about 55 percent of the general fund is allocated for public safety such as police and fire services. He explained much of the tax burden would fall on tourists visiting the city.
“We believe close to almost 70 percent of it is paid by tourists,” he said. “Now that’s looking at Visa credit card expenditures and that’s where the state’s board of tourism and our local tourism board, takes a look at every year.”
According to data from the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism, in the first and second quarters of 2017, visitors spent $226,431,296 in Visa expenditures compared to locals spending $82,239,968.
Mayor Robert Moon said he was glad voters approved the tax measure and said the funding would allow the city to tackle rising security and public safety costs in a city growing with new developments downtown.
“That’s going to require additional police officers down there to keep that area patrolled,” he said. “Additional security and also additional firemen and paramedics and additional fire equipment and police equipment.”
Palm Springs Police Chief Bryan Reyes said he was looking forward in working with city staff in developing a plan to utilize potential funds to maintain or improve police services in the city.
“It is comforting to know that what it was discussed to be all along from the onset. That’s what [the measure] was understood to be for.,” Chief Reyes said. “At the end of the day, it’s going to come down to the council’s direction on how those funds are spent.”
Ready said the city was working with the State Board of Equalization to notify merchants of the tax change. He said the new sales tax would be implemented in the city on April 1, 2018.