April 1 was supposed to be when Pacific Grove merchants would begin collecting a 0.5-percent sales tax increase, Measure L, approved by nearly 60 percent of voters on Nov. 3, 2020. It would raise the city’s sales tax rate from 8.75 percent to 9.25 percent, the same as surrounding cities, and bring in about $1 million annually. The April Fools’ date is now a bad joke after the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration rejected the measure not long after its passage, claiming that mistakenly citing the wrong code in the text negated the whole thing.
An attempted fix by the P.G. City Council with a vote to correct the issue after the fact did not satisfy state officials, and the original start date of Jan. 1 was pushed back by three months. The CDTFA contends that the only true fix would be to start over and take a rewritten measure back to the voters. City officials are trying to find a middle ground that will satisfy the state, since despite the mistake the voters’ intent was to raise the tax.
“I don’t have an answer as to exactly how the words came to be the way they are, I’ve accepted responsibility, because that’s my job,” City Attorney David Laredo says. Negotiations with the CDTFA are ongoing and there could be a definitive answer within two weeks. Laredo says the agency has been open to talking with the city about a solution.
Should the state agency refuse to budge, Laredo says the council will weigh its options. On Feb. 24 the council voted in closed session to proceed with legal action and the city contracted with an outside counsel it has used before, but Laredo says they are waiting to see if an agreement can be reached.