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FAQ's Prop L Sales Tax

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What is Proposition “L”?

Proposition "L" established a general half cent "Transaction and Use Tax" approved by voters in 2006. Similar to a sales tax, the tax is levied on the same goods and merchandise as the 1 cent State of California sales tax. However, where the sales tax is applied to all sales within the city, the Transaction and Use Tax is only applied to purchases by consumers or businesses located within the city.

How much did my sales tax go up due to Prop L?

    Proposition L increased the sales tax by a half cent on April 1, 2007. The sales tax rate of Vista is currently 8.25 percent. The sales tax rate in unincorporated portions of Vista is 8 percent.

How long does the Prop L increase last?

Voters approved a 30 year tax, to be in effect until 2037.

Is Prop L revenue earmarked or for the general fund?

Proposition L is a general purpose tax the voters approved based on the community projects proposed. In 2007, bonding for all of the community projects was initiated; due to the structure of the bond payments, funds cannot be used for any other city operations other than firefighter salaries. Once the bonds were issued, the City was obligated by law to utilize the money for the projects as outlined in the bond documents. While the Proposition L money does go into the general fund, the amount required to pay the bonded debt is immediately removed to fund the projects approved by the voters.

What projects were committed to as part of Prop L?

Proposition L dollars were needed to help fund some very significant needs in the city that would have otherwise gone unfunded. Public safety is the top priority for additional revenue generated by Proposition L, including the re-opening of two community policing stations, the construction of two new fire stations, the remodel of a third station, and the addition of more fire personnel. These actions have greatly reduced fire department response times, which are vital during medical emergencies.

The City will also fund several community priorities that were identified during ASK Vista (Ask, Share, Know) meetings in 2006. Priorities include constructing much-needed public facilities such as a new sports park, a new stage house for the Moonlight Amphitheatre, and a new civic center.

Why is Prop L money being used for personnel expenses on Public Safety?

Public safety was the top priority for additional revenue generated by Proposition L, including the re-opening of two community policing stations, the construction of two new desperately needed fire stations, and the addition of more fire personnel. These actions will significantly reduce fire response times that are vital during medical emergencies.

Funding for fire personnel services is normally a function of a City's general fund; however, with the approval of Proposition L and the award of a five-year Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant, additional staffing has been made possible. The SAFER grant requires matching funding from the city made possible by Proposition L.

Was funding Fire personnel part of the original plan?

The hiring and training of 15 new Fire personnel for the two new stations was included in the initial proposal for Proposition L after the community asked for improvements in public safety at ASK Vista meetings.

If I buy a car in another city, will I still have to pay the extra sales tax?

Yes. The half cent percent is charged on all tangible personal property that is delivered or placed into use within the Vista city limits. This relates to vehicles, boats, or airplanes that are purchased elsewhere, but registered to a Vista resident.

If someone from San Marcos buys a car in Vista, will he/she have to pay the extra sales tax?

No. The half-cent sales tax will be collected on automobiles purchased or leased by Vista residents (no matter which city the automobile is purchased or leased).

How do I know if I live within the City limits?

Please Contact Development Services at 760.639.6100.

Will the sales tax collected be sufficient to cover the debt from the bonds?

In the first four years funds from the proceeds of bonds known as "Capitalized Interest" are used to pay the majority of debt service. The City was conservative in estimating the amount of proceeds from Proposition L to pay the required debt service. While sales tax revenues are declining in Vista and across the nation, the City is still on track to cover the debt service on the projects for at least the next three years.

Where can I find out more on California City & County Sales & Use Tax Rates?


Aly Zimmermann
P: 760.643.5200