A question has been asked about citizen’s viewpoint on ½ % sales tax increase in Antioch, it did not mention that it would last for 7 years.
Before I reply to the question, I believe that my observations are necessary to clarify my opposition to Measure “C”. It will be a single item on the Ballot on November 5th. I forecast a small voter turn-out which, unfortunately, will not fully represent citizen opinion on this major issue.
I make this plea: Please, please vote. We need a high count. That is very important. It sends a message to our politicians’ to consider before they attempt to raise more Taxes in Antioch. The Mayor has told me that he believes a large majority of Antioch support Measure “C”. If the count is something like 2000 YES and 1985 NO is that a real majority?
My desire is to give the reader background information (as a pseudo reporter) especially to those who do not attend City Council Meetings.
I have been sitting on street corners with a sign asking for “NO on “C”. I am amazed how many people have been asking “what this is about”. That is what prompted me to write this commentary.
I am going back to original items that were on agendas concerning additional money to hire more police officers. My reason is also to shed light on how our city manages business. Then the heading of this document will be obvious.
I have attended every Antioch City Council Meeting that had the Sales Tax issue on the agenda. In the beginning there were 2 measures being proposed. The one not on the ballot, was designed to collect additional money from business license fees on rental properties.
Let’s start at the very beginning to give you knowledge of “how” this Measure was allowed on a ballot in the first place.
The City Council declared a Fiscal Emergency using increase in crime to authorize Measure “C”. A consolidated statement to be used on the Ballot was sent to the CCC Elections Department. (CCCED). The CCCED required the City to agree to pay Ballot costs. The Council complied immediately approving the cost of over $22,000.00. That is charged even if the measure fails. A very costly deficit win or loose.
First agenda item proposed increasing income from Business Rental Fees. Currently Apartment and Multiple Dwellings are charged rental fees, Single rented Residences are not.
The idea was to charge a $20.00 monthly license fee on single rented properties. The money would be used for additional Officers.
A number of homes have been bought in bulk, are owned by investors for the sole purpose of making money, a return on investment (ROI). ROI from dwellings is certainly a Business and has made a large impact citywide.
Adding single or multiply owned individual property to require payment of Rental License Fees would equalize treatment to all parties in the rental business.
The second agenda item (it became Measure “C”) was also proposed. An increase in Sales Tax by ½% for 10 years was introduced. The money was also to go to the Police Department. It was amended to make it more “digestible” from 10 to “only” 7 years. This was done to obtain support by The City Chamber of Commerce, it was their idea. (Perhaps off the subject; in my opinion, The ACC group has not attracted new business into Antioch for years.)
Council members Harper and Agopain made many statements telling us that we need more officers to “prevent” and “reduce” crime. Police statistics were used to support their claims. The need for more safety stressed.
Both the Mayor and Council Members said that they were not going to “let criminals take over our city”. The solution is more police meaning more “boots on the streets”. They insinuated that criminals would not want to come into Antioch because added police would defer them.
There were never explanations as to “how” the additional officers could prevent or reduce crime. Unfortunately a set of new crime statistics had not reached their desks that might have enlightened them. Those statistics showed lower percentages crime (excluding murder from 3 to 5; I ask you, how can Police prevent murder?)
I made citizen comments at every meeting suggesting alternatives. I talked of more focus on developing cohesive neighborhoods instead of more police. I gave our Council documents about the city of Richmond’s applied efforts to reduce crime which was independent of police methods; something that Antioch might apply.
I stated that more officers would not “prevent or reduce crime”, it might reduce “response time” but Police intervention is after the crime has been committed.
There’ll always be criminals; they know consequences if caught in the act but have no fear of police. Suggesting that they will avoid Antioch because of additional officers is a farce.
The City Council (not listening to any input) was not sure how voters would react if both of the Agenda items were placed on the ballot. They feared defeat similar to Measure “P” three years ago. (Note: That measure required a 2/3 voter approval and failed.)
The Council placed an order for an Independent Survey of constituents to help them determine what to do. The cost of the Survey was $18,000.00. Only 400 Citizens were surveyed. The forecast resulted in an “estimate” that if both measures were on a ballot one would fail.
A well-known group up of citizens ‘The Breakfast Club”(which consists of former council members, Ex-mayor, and other businessmen) appeared before the Council and advised them that they were in support of applying the Rental Fees but were against any Sales Tax increase. I had also pleaded (twice) saying that the fee option was best because it was fairness in business, would provide a stable yearly amount of money, and it wouldn’t be limited to 10 years.
After the survey results were interpreted which indicated that if both items were placed on the ballot “one would fail” (and advice that a 2/3 majority vote would also be very risky). Our City Council deleted the Rental Fee idea and choose to go ahead with only the increased Sales Tax Measure.
Then with fear of failure placing it on the ballot with specific use of funds to the Police Department requiring a 2/3 majority vote. They modified the earlier decision changing direction to send the money into the General Fund. Measure “C” reasons changed! Can we still claim the “emergency” Read the ballot the reason for the tax has been changed! The tax is no longer going to the Police Department it will (supposedly) be divided into a fair distribution for ALL city service improvements. Manipulation?
To influence a yes vote by citizens the Council has promised to set-up (yet another) Commission as oversight of tax expenditures. The group of 7 will report once a year, will be appointed by the Mayor, and will have no power.
If you read the “Yes on “C” signs , and receive a big post card, and stickers on your newspaper you should take the time to find out where all of the money to pay for this massive advertising is coming from . Data is available at the City Clerk’s office. My investigation indicates that people owning multiple single unit rental properties have contributed over $30,000.00. Their Ads are propaganda. All placards tell you the money is for more police! This deception is supported by the Mayor and Council Members. I have reported $150.00 contribution for NO NEW TAXES signs without deception.
In closing I offer this for your consideration: The addition of Police Officers to “Prevent Crime” is pure speculation. The change directing income into the General Fund is a manipulation.
If Measure “C” passes the City Council will likely continue “deficit spending”, they have in the past and there is no reason to believe this will change. It is likely that hiring more police will start before money for tax has been collected and placed into the General Fund. The old “Buy now Pay later” repeatedly used by our “leaders” is one of the reasons that our city is near bankruptcy today.
Considering money contributed to influence the “WIN” compared to the amount spent supporting LOOSE makes me feel like it is a David vs. Goliath battle.
I assure you that I am not against any improvement of our Police Department. I supported the Rental Business Fee, I own and rent one property and had no problem with that proposal.
There is more to consider, just months ago Police Department benefits were increased. Retirement benefits cost went up. (Another “spend forward action”). The Police Chief pleaded for the extra money to lure (some costly) “experienced” officers. Some he had interviewed wanted more than our city was currently offering.
The Council moved without hesitation and approved that request and we will pay for it year after year. It is deficit spending! (Note: The Police Association can demand more when labor negotiations re-open and no ballot measure is required for increased in city spending.)
Placing “C” on the Ballot because we need more income to eliminate an “EMERGENCY” is wool over the County Elections Departments eyes. We have been in an “emergency” state for the last 5 (or more) years! Why the “emergency” now? Why wasn’t it declared before the huge reductions of all city services? That is a mystery to me.
I think our citizens should have been asked to send written ideas on possible solutions to reduce debt and used to develop and implement a strategy to solve our problems. That, however would require more than a 3 minute input at meetings and it might be considered as interference.
November 5th is my 79th Birthday. I have been a resident since I was 9 ½ years of age. I hope David mentioned earlier will prevail. I thank you for reading this to the end. I have tried to minimize insinuation, within this article, it is opinion, and everything written is based on my participation and observations of City Council actions for many months.
I will appreciate your Gift at the Ballot Box when you Vote “NO on “C”. Again, I thank all of you for reading this to the end.
Fred Hoskins, Antioch