Antioch Council places sales tax increase on November ballot, would permanently double to one cent

Council wants to split revenue with 80% going for police services

By Alexandra Riva

At their meeting Tuesday, July 24, the Antioch City Council voted to place a ballot measure that would extend and double the transaction and use tax, or sales tax permanently from a half-cent to one cent. With the five affirmative votes, residents will now have the opportunity to vote on the measure as it will appear on their ballots in November. 1 Cent Sales Tax Ballot Measure Staff Report

As it stands, the fiscal impact of Measure C’s one-half cent sales tax measure, which generates $6.7 million in revenue. Most of this revenue is currently being spent on the Antioch Police Department. Through the extension and increase, the measure could have the potential to generate $14 million in revenue for the City’s General Fund, each year. 1 Cent Sales Tax Draft Spending Priorities

Unlike Measure C, with its seven-year sunset clause, resulting in the sales tax expiring in April 2020, the one-cent sales tax measure if passed, would be permanent. It could only be removed by another vote of the people.

The drafted version of the measure allocates 60% of revenue for the maintenance of public safety, 20% for youth services, and the remaining 20% for supporting quality of life and fiscal stability and accountability.

During the meeting the council discussed changing these amounts from percentages of 60-20-20 to an 80-10-10 allocation. This 80-10-10 split was advocated for by both Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock, who included it in her motion, and Mayor Sean Wright during his comments. However, it is not part of the actual ballot language and future councils will not be bound by those amounts and can spend the funds in any way they deem necessary.

Ogorchock wasn’t happy that it was the first time she and the rest of the council had a chance to consider the ballot measure.

The proposal was the result of an ad hoc committee consisting of Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe and Councilwoman Monica Wilson, and input from the public, including phone and online surveys, and the city’s “Join the Conversation campaign” on the city’s website and Facebook page.

“I want to thank my colleagues for going on this adventure, which we’ve been on for almost a year-and-a-half… in gathering data,” Thorpe said. Over 2,000 individual residents gave input on their priorities during the effort, he mentioned.

He responded to Ogorchock’s concern by saying “we did get an update from our pollster, back in January… we conducted this poll recently and it was concluded a couple weeks ago. So, it wasn’t that we were trying to hide anything.”

“It is a recommendation based on the data we collected,” Thorpe added.

Councilman Tony Tiscareno said he supported the measure because he wanted to hire more police officers, “which we can’t do with Measure C.”

Wright argued for the increase, comparing Antioch to Brentwood, responding to concerns of why the neighboring city doesn’t do like they do in Brentwood. “The people of Brentwood have taxed themselves” an extra $3,000 per year per home to pay for city services, he said.

“We have an opportunity, tonight to tax ourselves… to drive Antioch to be the city we want it to be,” Wright added.

The council’s unanimous vote only places the measure on the November ballot for the voters to decide, and nothing more.

Of those who offered public comment on the issue, most seemed to support the implementation of an increased tax rate for an extended period of time and urged the council to place the measure on the ballot.

Calls were made for the potential funds generated from the measure to be allocated to the police department and public safety. Additionally, funding from this measure, intended to improve the quality of life of residents, particularly Antioch youth, was another concern among the members of the public, who spoke

Samson Knight, an Antioch resident, expressed his support for the measure with particular interest in funding for quality of life services.

“I think that these quality of life services, especially youth programs, would be a great boon to our city. I think the proportional gain of resources for these programs would be much greater than an equivalent amount given to such a large financial entity such as APD,” said Knight.

Funding for the Antioch police department, as a result of this measure in its current state, was around $7 million, which has allowed the city to hire a net seven additional officers, and did tremendous good for the city, according to some speakers. One such community member was Steve Aiello, president of the Antioch Police Officers’ Association, who spoke in support of the measure.

“As you can see, the issue of public safety is directly related to the quality of life…It is important to note that even though we have made great strides in hiring officers, we still need more,” said Aiello.

However, other speakers were not happy with the proposed tax increase.

“I don’t even really understand this,” said Beverly Knight, Samson’s mother. “I know that the residents of Antioch don’t have a problem with continuing with Measure C. They want a fully staffed police department. We need people to feel safe to come out of their homes…when using the parks. We want a fully funded police department before we mess with Measure C. That’s what people voted for.”

To date, the city has added a net seven police officers out of the 22 promised by the then-mayor and council in 2013, if Measure C passed.

Although it’s a tax increase the council gave it the title of “City of Antioch Quality of Life Measure.”

The ballot language adopted will read, “To maintain Antioch’s fiscal stability and police patrols, 911 emergency response, youth violence prevention programs; ensuring water quality and safety; repairing streets; cleaning up parks/illegal dumping; restoring youth after-school/summer programs; and other essential services; shall the measure be adopted approving an ordinance to renew the sales tax at the one-cent rate, raising approximately $14,000,000 annually until ended by voters, requiring independent annual financial audits and all expenditures available for public review?”

The election will be held on Tuesday, November 6.

Allen Payton contributed to this report.

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4 Comments to “Antioch Council places sales tax increase on November ballot, would permanently double to one cent”

  1. Julie says:

    And yet they just spent $95,000.00 to hire a consultant charged with the task of bringing the “swagger” back to Antioch . . .? If this is how our city council wants to spend our money and then turn around and raise taxes on us? Nope, I will vote no along with everyone I can reach out to in our city.

  2. Julio says:

    They have pension payments going up 97% they have to pay so don’t plan on seeing a single new officer on the street. Vote NO.

  3. Arne says:

    The poll used only 400 out of 51.489 registered voters. I don’t see how that is truly reflective of what voters think.
    There are two ways for the city to raise revenue:
    1) Raise taxes, or
    2) Bring in more businesses and homes which increases their sales tax, business license and property tax revenue.

    Not mentioned was anything about the amount of revenue Measure O is bringing into the city.

  4. Carole Harrison says:

    Where is the citizen oversight on how these extra taxes will be spent by the City? And they want us to OK these taxes with no end date?? Have you ever seen anything on a ballot asking voters to “undo” a tax? Please!! This is “Sleight of Hand”. Let Measure C run its course and then we’ll decide if it should be renewed when the time comes.

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