Santa Paula officials have ordered an audit of the city's sales tax receipts to lay claim to money that they believe the city is entitled to but never received.
The City Council approved the audit Monday night and considered several other ways to raise revenue, including user fees on such services as water, natural gas, electricity and cable television.
City Manager Arnold Dowdy said he is "absolutely certain" that the city is not receiving all the sales tax revenue it should be getting. Dowdy said that sometimes when a local firm makes a sale to an out-of-town buyer, the sales tax mistakenly goes to the buyer's city.
But he had no idea how much it is losing.
He said city officials will contact consultants who specialize in such audits. They review state Board of Equalization records, looking for cases where sales tax mistakenly went to other cities.
Like other government agencies, Santa Paula is facing tight budget times, Dowdy said. The City Council is expected to approve a $9.5-million budget July 1 that represents significant cuts. Two vacant positions in the 30-employee Police Department will not be filled, and the capital improvement program has been reduced, he said.
To boost revenue, city officials are considering other money-generating options: additional fees on new developments, a franchise fee on private rubbish haulers, selling bonds and charging residents for street lighting.