CAPITOLA -- It's a 51-vote margin of Measure O, a permanent quarter-cent sales tax designed to shore up the city reserves depleted by flooding in 2011. A majority vote is needed for passage.
If approved, the sales tax rate would increase from 8.25 percent to 8.5 percent through Dec. 31, 2017, then fall back to 8.25 percent.
Early Wednesday morning the tally was 1,629 yes and 1,578 no, with ballots dropped off at the polls on Election Day not yet counted.
"I'm encouraged by the results we have seen so far," said City Manager Jamie Goldstein.
"If it passes, it will put the city in a far stronger fiscal position to address the issues we had with the downturn and the 2011 pipe failure."
Goldstein, who lives in Santa Cruz, is among those who turned in an absentee ballot Tuesday.
"You can fill it out when you've got plenty of time," he said.
About 30,000 votes countywide must be counted, but Dennis Norton, who appears to have won re-election to the Capitola City Council, does not think the outcome will change.
"I don't think there's that many ballots left out there from Capitola," Norton said. "Even if there's 100 (ballots) and you're up by 50, you're way within the ballpark."
When he walked neighborhoods during his campaign, "people were overwhelmingly supportive" of Measure O.
The Measure O campaign was low-budget with flyers and a few signs.
"It shows community appreciates the services we give," Norton said.
The sales tax had support from leaders of the Human Care Alliance, which represents nearly 60 nonprofits providing food, senior support and legal advocacy to those in need. That helped overcome opposition from residents who called the city's spending priorities misguided.
"It's a quarter of 1 percent -- come on," said Capitola resident Portia Halbert, who voted yes.
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At a glance
If approved, the sales tax rate would increase from 8.25 percent to 8.5 percent through Dec. 31, 2017, then fall back to 8.25 percent. Since it is a general purpose tax, a simple majority vote is required for passage.