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... and we've got arena news.

After that Chris Sheridan note a few days ago reporting that David Stern said things are looking good on the arena front here in the River City, it was a matter of time before The Bee had something.

Well, here's the metro section's Mary Lynne Vellinga in today's issue:

Sacramento City Councilman Ray Tretheway said one idea being discussed would involve raising the sales tax for Sacramento County residents.

"I heard there's the potential for the county to put on the ballot a sales tax, for 10 years, I think," Tretheway said. "It would do two things: It would fund an arena and entertainment center and also contain money that would go back to the local jurisdictions."

Such a general sales tax would require only a majority vote to pass, rather than the two-thirds vote required for taxes passed for a specific purpose. The county conceivably could designate the money for an arena - albeit unofficially - by winning voter approval of a companion advisory measure supporting its construction.

Local political consultant Jeff Raimundo said such a two-pronged approach had been used by local governments around the state. He cited a similar pair of initiatives adopted in Santa Clara County to fund transportation improvements.

"It's a way to avoid the two-thirds vote, but it's perfectly legal," he said.

In simpler terms, you'd have say Measure A and Measure B.

Measure A would ask voters if they support a general half-cent sales tax to be assessed in Sacramento County. Voters would say 'yes' or 'no.'

Measure B would ask voters if they think the county should fund a new arena in Sacramento County using the new tax revenue. Voters would say 'yes' or 'no.'

If 50 percent of the voters say yes to A, the tax can be assessed. If 50 percent of the voter say yes to A and B, the tax can be assessed and used to pay for a new arena. If A fails, nothing happens. If B fails, I assume the county would hold off on assessing the tax and give B another try.

Getting on the ballot is somewhat tricky, though. Here are the steps as I understand them:

  1. The county Board of Supervisors would have to agree on the specific ballot language for the tax measure and the expenditure plan for the arena measure.
  2. Each incorporated city council in the county would hear the proposals and vote. From my experience in transportation issues, I think putting the measure on the ballot would require city councils representing residents adding up to at least half the county's population (confused yet?) would have to approve the plans.
  3. The county board would vote to place the measures on the ballot.
  4. KHTK will become absolutely unlistenable while armchair politicos suggest bake sales and car washes to fund the new arena in lieu of the tax.
  5. Ron Artest appears in an advertisement for the measures, urging support while dressed up as Uncle Sam.
  6. Voters go to the polls while every Kings fan in the region sweats all day. Also, Ron Artest appears on KCRA's 6 a.m. news, guaranteeing a victory for the measures.
Again, my experience has mostly been in transportation taxes, so this is kind of tentative. Step #2 is obviously confounding, so here's an attempt to further describe it.

The county has seven cities. So including the governing body of the unincorporated territory (which is the county Board of Supervisors), you have eight boards to vote on putting the measures on the ballot. They are:

  • The Citrus Heights City Council, representing 87,549 residents.
  • The Elk Grove City Council, representing 121,609 residents.
  • The Folsom City Council, representing 51,844 residents.
  • The Galt City Council, representing 24,000 residents.
  • The Isleton City Council, representing 840 residents.
  • The Rancho Cordova City Council, representing 55,000 residents.
  • The Sacramento City Council, representing 441,000.
  • The Sacramento County Board of Supervisors, representing 570,600 residents.
So, essentially, to get the measure on the ballot, the county board and three of the smaller cities need to vote it on, so that the boards representing at least half of the county populations say "Yay." The Sacramento council would be gravy, but it's not needed. That's good: The less you rely on guys in Sacramento City Hall, the better.

We'll get more into this later this week. Remember, though: Voters are fickle. The best way to increase the sentiment in support of a tax in town is to win, win, win.

Let's go arena!