Governor Signs Legislation That Provides Tax Relief To Yolo County

Yolo County is facing huge deficits this year again as it has to cut 21 million from its operating budget.  One of the problems that it faces is a huge amount of lands are preserved for agriculture.  97.2% of its unincorporated land is designated for agricultural use with 416,519 acres of those lands (69% of all acres designated for agricultural use) are in Williamson Act contracts.

As a result of its land use policy and directing urban development into its cities, the county receives the lowest share of property tax in the state and it also receives almost no significant sales tax revenue.


Senate Bill 85, authored by Republican Senator Dave Cogdill (Modesto) which was signed on Wednesday does not correct this inequity but it does make property tax distribution more equitable for several rural counties, including Yolo County.

The bill was co-authored by Senator Lois Wolk and Assemblymember Mariko Yamada.

According to a release from Assemblymember Mariko Yamada’s office, due to errors in the original funding formulas and loss of sales tax to the county when the City of West Sacramento incorporated, Yolo County retains only 8.6 cents of every property tax dollar.  By comparison, other counties on average receive 17 cents of every property tax dollar. By modifying this funding mechanism, SB 85 increases Yolo County’s share of property tax revenue by approximately $200,000 per year.

Senator Cogdill, the author of the legislation said in a release:

“This legislation will help counties put more locally-generated tax dollars to work closer to home.  During these difficult economic times, all counties are faced with the difficult choice of putting important programs on the chopping block. However, funding shifts that were intended to help local government have actually hurt some counties, creating an even larger budget challenge.”

Assemblymember Yamada issued a statement saying:

“SB 85 corrects a property-tax inequity that has been plaguing Yolo County for decades.  Yolo County holds the dubious distinction of being 58th out of 58 counties in the share of property tax revenue retained.  This bill will provide modest funding relief at a time when local governments are reeling from the economic downturn along with a greater demand for social, health, and public safety services.”

While this bill does give some tax relief, it is not going to fix problems any time soon.

Assemblymember Yamada told the Vanguard late last night via email:

“SB 85 is a modest first step towards tax fairness for Yolo  County.  Over the next five years, Yolo County stands to gain almost $1M in additional revenue under the bill’s provisions, at a time when literally every penny counts.”

She continued:

“I was proud to co-author and present SB 85 on the Assembly Floor on behalf of State Senators Dave Cogdill and Lois Wolk.  With the Governor’s signature, the true spirit of bipartisan, bicameral cooperation came through.  This is how the people of California expect us to work together—across-the-aisle, across-the-houses, and with an eye towards helping, not raiding local government.”

The bill will provide $100,000 for Yolo County in Fiscal Year 2011-12 and $200,000 in Fiscal Year 2012-13 and every year thereafter.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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