Measure E: New 0.2% sales tax proposed in Fresno County to support Fresno State academics, athletics

Fresno County voters will make the decision in the November general election.

Jessica Harrington Image
Wednesday, August 10, 2022
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Fresno State facilities could see some upgrades in the coming years if voters approve a new county-wide sales tax.

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- Fresno State facilities could see some upgrades in the coming years if voters approve a new county-wide sales tax.

On Tuesday, the Fresno County Board of Supervisors unanimously agreed to send the measure to voters in November.

Supporters say the measure would help support students and facilities at Fresno State, but not everyone is on board with paying more or how the money is set to be spent.

In just a few months, Fresno County voters will decide whether they will support a county-wide 0.2% sales tax for the next 20-years to help improve Fresno State.

The only exception would be in Reedley where the tax would be 0.025%. Organizers says that's because the maximum sales tax can't be more than 2% higher than the state sales tax without special legislation.

The proposed tax was brought forward by the Fresno State Improvement Zone Committee.

Tim Orman is a member.

"What Measure Z did for the zoo, Measure E will do for Fresno State," Orman says.

If approved, the measure is expected to bring in an estimated $36 million each year.

Orman says the impact to consumers will be outweighed by the benefits.

"It means your $5 latte is going to cost you one penny more and that's a small price to pay to make Fresno State much better than what it is now," Orman says.

The money will be used to provide scholarships to low-income students, expand access to programs such as nursing, agriculture, engineering and STEM - and repairs and upgrades to academic and athletic facilities.

Two-thirds of the money must be spent on academics and no more than one-third can be used to support athletics.

A five-person Citizen's Oversight Committee will also be appointed by the Board of Supervisors to ensure the money is spent in line with the way the measure is written.

Fresno State is not a part of the committee, but said in a statement, in part, general fund allocations from the state are unpredictable and "the funding would address deteriorating campus facilities and infrastructure."

Still, some community members questioned the tax and whether the money will be spent in the best interest for students.

"This is a forever tax. It's going to primarily fund Fresno State football, is the perception," Kevin Hall of Fresno said.

Dez Martinez, also spoke out, asking the supervisors to take more time to consider student needs before sending it the voters.

"I would like to hear more about housing projects and food benefit projects for these students that are going to Fresno State," Martinez said.

Supervisor Steve Brandau said he doesn't normally support added taxes, but believed it was the right thing to do in this case because the committee collected enough signatures to qualify it for the ballot.

The measure passed unanimously.

Fresno County voters will make the decision in the November general election.