Consultants conducted a retail sales tax leakage study for the City of Novato and the regional trade area which includes all of Marin and southern Sonoma Counties. The study was based on interviews with local businesses, real estate brokers and community stakeholders, an online opinion survey of business and residents, evaluations of existing retail centers and potential development areas, and research and analysis of city-wide and regional economic data.
The results of the analysis provided the City with a range of opportunities and challenges for business retention and attraction. Areas for improvement included a retail leakage of nearly $170 million for the City of Novato. The largest leakage area is in home furnishings and appliance stores at $37 million followed by building materials and garden equipment at $35 million. To assess the existing and future retail demand potential the study referred to the regional trade area and estimated a $850 million loss in sales primarily in the dining and general merchandise areas.
In short, residents and visitors consistently leave the City of Novato and the market trade area to do their shopping for areas of items mentioned above. The City has launched a "Shop Local" campaign and is looking at other economic development options to capture some of this lost revenue and provide more shopping opportunities for residents and visitors.
In March 2013, the City contracted with the International City Management Association (ICMA) to utilize their National Citizens Survey (NCS) to survey Novato residents. The NCS is a five-page questionnaire that provides a statistically-valid survey of residents’ opinions about their community and services. Four-hundred local governments in the United States use NCS to benchmark service quality and assess community needs.
A standard survey is used for all jurisdictions requesting feedback on quality of life in the community, resident use of services and quality of services delivered. This allows all jurisdictions to benchmark their results nationally and regionally with other agencies that have also completed the survey. Surveys were sent to a randomly-selected sample of 3,000 households in Novato. Residents were able to complete the survey in a written format or on-line. A total of 825 completed surveys were returned yielding an overall response rate of 28%. The Council heard a presentation regarding the results on June 18, 2013. The results provided a variety of information that was relevant and helpful to the Council and community when considering some of the fiscal sustainability choices and options.
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