EL CENTRO —The El Centro City Council voted unanimously June 21 to put two tax initiatives on the ballot in November for El Centro voters.
If passed, the first initiative would increase the current El Centro sales tax by a half cent, while the second will add 3% to the current 10% tax on the city’s transient occupancy, or room tax, in motels.
The motel tax would also affect how online booking taxes are calculated and, if voted in, would go into effect April 1, 2017.
Although the council’s action was only to put the initiatives on the ballot, there were still concerns from the public about the possibility of a sudden increase in tax.
El Centro resident Gil Perrez said he was particularly concerned about what the tax increase would imply and what could happen to residents if the initiatives pass. Motels that are rented in the case of an emergency could become costly and the hike in sales tax could cause El Centro to lose Mexicali retail shoppers who would possibly go elsewhere like Calexico, according to Perrez.
“I think to raise the taxes at this time is not the right time to do it,” said Perrez.
However, Councilmember Efrain Silva assured Perrez that the city council does not have the power to raise the sales tax and it is within the power of the people to vote and approve or disapprove the measure.
Silva said the council’s action merely placed the initiatives on the ballot, and they will be voted on in November, giving residents the chance to have their voices heard.