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Comparing Galt’s current sales tax with the local sales tax cap and with the city’s possible tax rate if both the county and city measures pass and get implemented. If just the city tax passed, Galt’s tax rate would be 9.25%; if only the county tax passed, the rate would be 8.75%.

Looking over their general-election ballots this year, Galt residents will possibly see two sales tax measures. One is a 1-cent citywide tax that Galt City Council wants to fund parks and recreation; the other is a half-cent county tax that would go toward transportation projects.

However, if both measures pass, the effect won’t be as simple as adding 1.5 percentage points to Galt’s sales tax. A legal cap on local sales taxes means state officials would decide whether to implement one, the other or both.

Galt currently has a total sales tax of 8.25%. This rate is divvied up among multiple levels of government. The city of Galt has the 0.5% Measure R tax, Sacramento County charges 0.5%, and these are both on top of the state of California’s base rate of 7.25%.

The total sales tax rate in a local jurisdiction cannot exceed 9.25%, which, after the state tax, leaves counties and cities 2% to claim. If both taxes before Galt voters in the general election were to pass, they would take the city above the limit, to 9.75%.

The county measure’s odds of success appear favorable. It is similar to two previous proposals that originated in the county board of supervisors. Both had strong majority support, but the first fell short of the two-thirds vote needed to pass, and the second was dropped when polls indicated it wouldn’t reach that threshold either.

Unlike its predecessors, the new county measure is a community initiative, and if it reaches the ballot, it will need only a simple majority, 50% plus one vote, to pass. Galt’s sales tax measure also needs a simple majority.

Speaking to City Council members as they deliberated over the proposed citywide tax on Aug. 4, Interim City Attorney Frank Splendorio said the city would have two main options in the event that both measures pass. It could ask the state Legislature to approve an exception allowing it to have the higher rate, or it could wait for an opinion from the state attorney general’s office on which tax to implement.

Splendorio said the legislative option is “the most straightforward path forward” for the city, either working with the county or alone, but he emphasized that neither type of recourse has guaranteed success.

Appealing to the Legislature has precedent in the state. In 2022, more than 100 local jurisdictions have sales tax rates above the cap, many in Los Angeles County or the Bay Area. The cities of Alameda and Albany have the highest rate in the state, at 10.75 cents on the dollar.

If Galt’s tax measure were to pass while the county’s did not, Galt would be at the local maximum of 9.25% and have one of the highest sales taxes among the county’s cities.