REDDING, Calif. - Redding Mayor Rick Bosetti is proposing a half-cent sales tax to help crack down on crime.
The idea started after Bosetti witnessed a 7-year-old girl's birthday party at the Black Bear Diner. He said a panhandler ruined the girl's party because of his aggressive behavior.
"I snapped at that point, I said the people have to be able to make the choice," Bosetti said. "I was calling the dispatcher. She says, ‘Can you identify the perpetrator?' and I said, ‘Yeah, he's got green shorts on and a grey top, he's now holding his genitals telling me they're not going to do anything.'"
Now the mayor is proposing a half-cent sales tax increase in Redding. The funds would be used exclusively to fight crime.
City Manager Kurt Starman estimates it would raise $10 million a year. That money could be used to enhance the work-release program, and those who don't comply would be transferred to out-of-county jails.
"The specific idea would be to have more accountability in the system," Starman said. "Right now we have the issues where I think the criminals know that there is no chance of them spending any significant time in jail. His idea is to have consequences to bad behavior."
Four of five Redding City Council members would have to approve putting it on the November ballot.
Gary Cadd would be the swing vote. He is against the proposal because he says car and gas sales are fueling Redding's economic comeback, and adding a tax to that would drive away potential customers.
"Now we are going to turn around and raise our sales tax by half a cent and then expect the car sales to continue?" Cadd said. "We are going to have people leaving Redding, leaving Shasta County, and going down to Tehama county to buy new cars."
The Redding City Council has a special meeting tentatively for August 4.
If four of five council members approve the proposal, two-thirds of the voters would have to give final approval at the polls in November.