initiative fails

in Buellton

Staff Report

A Libertarian's attempt to rewrite Buellton's tax laws failed to make it past voters in Tuesday's election.

Measure X, the s-called Tax Sunset Initiative, was defeated 68.1 percent to 31.9 percent.

"I'm so ecstatic about Measure X going down in such a flame," said City Council member Diane Whitehair, who was re-elected Tuesday night.

"I went door-to-door talking to people about the affects of the measure. I did more campaigning about Measure X than I did for myself," she said.

The initiative would have given city voters the opportunity to repeal or re-approve existing tax laws with each election, with the oldest tax coming to the ballot first. At each election, voters would have had the chance to review a different tax law.

Opponents of the measure said if the initiative passed it could have had detrimental effects on the city -- if voters began repealing taxes. City officials also argued that residents wouldn't save anything -- the taxes would remain the same, only the county would then collect the revenues, and the city would have to appeal to the county for funds.

Measure X would have primarily affected transient occupancy taxes (TOT), property transfer taxes, and business taxes, but not the sales tax. City officials said the largest chunk of taxes come from TOT, which are paid by travelers who stay in local hotels -- not Buellton residents.

The initiative was placed on the ballot by members of the Libertarian Party, who essentially were using the city as an experiment to see if such a notion would be accepted by voters.

Buellton officials on Wednesday morning were breathing a collective sigh of relief that it wasn't.

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