Michael J. Sorba, Staff Writer
Posted: 04/21/2010 09:56:48 PM PDT

COLTON – At a June meeting the City Council will consider approving an ordinance that will place an extension of the utility users tax on the November ballot.

On Tuesday evening, the council directed city staff to draft the ordinance and begin a public education effort to inform residents what services the tax will fund.

“The community outreach must be specific and definite for where the money is going,” said Councilman Richard DeLaRosa. “The reason it passed last time is the mayor and City Council and the staff did an excellent job in reporting out and being transparent to the services provided by this utility user tax.”

The 2004 voter-approved tax is set to sunset June 30, 2011. It charges an additional 4percent for residents and 6percent for businesses on natural gas, electricity, cable TV, water, sewer, trash collection, wireless services and telephone bills.

It generates about $5million annually for the General Fund to pay for services such as public safety, community services and street and park maintenance.

The council voted 5-1, with Councilwoman Deirdre Bennett absent, to draft the ordinance and begin the public education effort. Councilman David Toro cast the lone “no” vote. Toro said he’s asked residents for their opinion and the response has been one-sided.

“If families can cut their spending, then so can the City Council,” Toro cited as one constituent’s response.

“I can’t see how people are going to want to continue being taxed and paying more money,” Toro said. “I don’t see how you can get this passed. If people are asking me to cut this off right here then that’s what I’m going to do.”

In June, the council will be presented with two budgets, one that lays out a spending plan in the event the tax extension passes and one that does the opposite, said City Manager Rod Foster.

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