Watchdog – Review of Measure C on Antioch’s November ballot
Last year the Antioch City Council decided against placing a parcel tax for additional Police Dept. funding on the November ballot. One wonders if the council would have made the same decision if there weren’t three open seats up for election, including the mayor’s seat. This year it’s a different story. The City (council) is spending more than $200,000 to get voters to approve the deceptive sales tax increase ballot Measure C.
Although it’s being heavily promoted by the council and the police chief as the solution to an understaffed police department, scrutiny of the measure reveals that any funds received from increasing the tax on all our purchases for the next 7 years, will go into the city’s General Fund and can be used for any legal governmental purpose. The measure was purposely written in this manner to enable an easier passage, requiring only 50% plus one yes votes to be approved. A specific tax measure requiring all additional sales tax revenues be directed to police services and public safety would require 2/3 voter approval whichm apparently the council doesn’t think would pass.
Measure C is similar to Measure P, Antioch’s 2010 sales tax measure which, council should note, failed. Failure was attributed to opponents being worried about the impact on local businesses and wary of the fact that the money was not guaranteed to go to the police department:
A few facts for you to consider before you vote:
Prop 30 (Governor Jerry Brown) passed in November, 2012, raising the sales tax from 7.25% to 7.5% and increasing upper income brackets, increases which applied retroactively to all income earned or received since the first of January, 2012. Another voter approved state law which also passed amended specific pension formulas for public employees (2.7% at age 55 for police officers and 2% at age 62 for other employee categories, effective January 1, 2013.
On December 27, 2012, in order to avoid the new law which would freeze the benefit level for lateral (experienced) officers, the newly sworn in Mayor and council members, urged on by the Police Chief, adopted an “urgency ordinance” amending recent negotiations which extended the existing contract with police until 2016 and specified that police hired after September 1 would have to wait until age 55 to collect the 3% retirement benefit, saving the city up to $2.5 million.
The council ignored a recent comparison showing that Antioch pension benefit levels matched or exceeded 10 of 15 nearby cities and restored the 3% retirement benefit at age 50 for newly hired lateral officers, stating the move was necessary to attract more experienced officers.
Being that the police department continues to be understaffed, it’s clear to me that, in order to assure the public’s safety, we need to adopt more proactive policing policies like those under Chief James Hyde, rather than continue the reactive policing policies practiced now, practices similar to former Chief Dave Lewis.
NOTE: Property tax values are moving upward again. In July, County Assessor Gus Kramer told the Board of Supervisors “The increase to the local tax base for 2013-14 is over $4.87 billion. This represents a 3.45% increase in assessed value and brings the total local assessment roll to over $146 billion, just 6.92% away from the county’s record assessed value, which was set in 2008. Cities with the largest increases in assessed value are: Antioch, (7.38%), Brentwood, Clayton, Oakley and Walnut Creek.