Cogdill's lack of backing means more decisions for council

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Sonora City Council: 5 p.m. Monday, council chambers, City Hall, 94 N. Washington St., Sonora.

By JASON ECK

Sonora City Council members Monday will decide how to respond to Assemblyman Dave Cogdill's decision not to carry legislation allowing Sonora voters on a sales tax increase to help fund the Police Department.

The city is proposing a quarter-cent sales tax, but needs special legislation passed before the initiative can go to voters.

Four of five council members and City Administrator Greg Applegate on Oct. 9 asked Cogdill to consider sponsoring such legislation. Applegate said the impromptu meeting occurred when Cogdill was in town for another event and asked if there were city issues needing discussion.

Council members said they came out of that meeting without a firm commitment from Cogdill. But they were nonetheless confident the Modesto Republican would support the measure.

Mayor Marlee Powell, in a follow-up letter to Cogdill, said she believed that "... as our assemblyman, (Cogdill) would take the benign but necessary step to begin the legislative process that, if approved, would allow the people of Sonora to make the decision for the future of law enforcement in their city.

"I heard clearly that you personally do not endorse any new tax but I did not hear you refuse the right of others to make their own choice."

Cogdill sent a letter Nov. 21 to city officials and backers of the effort saying he could not support and has never supported a tax increase. He also pointed to a $21 billion state deficit that has swelled since the October meeting with the council.

Cogdill's decision came as a blow to the city and members of the Historic Sonora Chamber of Commerce, whose members voted overwhelmingly to back and help pass the measure.

City officials contend they were only asking Cogdill to give the city the authority to ask voters, and were disappointed with Cogdill's decision.

In her letter, Powell said "... we are not asking that you introduce or endorse or vote for a new tax. All we are asking is that you give us the opportunity to (if your colleagues will permit) determine our own destiny as a small and safe city."

City Council member Hank Russell said last week that the council should not hesitate asking Cogdill to reconsider, and Bill Murphy, president of the Historic Sonora Chamber of Commerce, said he called Cogdill the day the letter arrived and asked him to do just that.

Applegate and City Attorney Richard Matranga will seek the council's direction. Applegate outlines the following options:

? Requesting Cogdill reconsider his position.

? Looking into having Tuolumne County and the city of Sonora jointly conduct a ballot measure for police and sheriff services, which would not require legislation.

? Asking another state representative to sponsor legislation.

? Re-examine other available revenue options.

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The Union Democrat
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