Antioch Council to hold third special meeting on Tuesday to make changes to sales tax increase ballot measure

By Allen Payton

After holding two special meetings last Tuesday and Friday to make needed changes to the ballot language for the one-cent sales tax measure for the November election, the Antioch City Council will be holding a third special meeting Tuesday at 4:00 p.m. to discuss adding language to include a 20-year expiration date to the tax and independent citizens’ oversight. ACC080718

The tax would double the current half-cent sales tax in the city, approved with the passage of Measure C in 2013, which sunsets in April 2021 and includes the Citizens Oversight Committee. However, the current committee has basically served as a rubber stamp to reports by city staff and hasn’t challenged the council’s use of the incorrect figure of 82 sworn officers as the base, instead of the 89 that were in the city’s budget at the time Measure C was placed on the ballot. The difference means 111 sworn officers from the half-cent sales tax rather than just 104. The committee also hasn’t challenged the base figure of $25 million in the budget since 2013 for those 89 officers, which hasn’t changed each year despite those and all officers being given pay raises unanimously by the then-council on Election Night in November 2016.

To date, the City has added a net six sworn police officers from Measure C funds, as of last week (see related article), out of the 22 that the then-mayor and council members promised in their ballot argument in favor of the measure, if the voters approved the half-cent sales tax.

According to the staff report for the item on Tuesday’s council meeting agenda:

“On July 24, 2018, the City Council adopted a resolution and ordinance calling an election in November to extend the City’s transaction and use tax (Measure C) and to increase that tax from one-half cent to one cent beginning April 1, 2019.  The City Council then held two meetings regarding the extension of this tax.  At the Special Meeting held on July 31, 2018, City Council amended the resolution to call for new ballot language (specifically, to bring the number of words in that language below the maximum of 75 words).  At the Special Meeting held on August 3, 2018, City Council convened to consider an amendment to the ordinance to correct a drafting error (specifically, the omission of language increasing the transactions tax to a rate of one cent).

At the Special Meeting held on August 3, 2018, the City Council did not adopt the proposed ordinance revision but instead directed the City Attorney to bring back a revised resolution and ordinance that does the following:

Continues the codification of the Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee in the Antioch Municipal Code (the prior version of the ordinance deleted the code section creating this committee); and

Provide for a ‘sunset’ of the ordinance in twenty years (the prior version deleted the code section of the Antioch Municipal Code creating an expiration date for the ordinance); and

Amends the ballot language to be submitted to the voters to reflect the new sunset date and reference the independent citizen oversight committee (the prior version stated that repeal would only occur by act of the voters and did not mention the existence of the committee).”

The proposed language for the ballot measure reads as follows:

“Antioch’s Quality of Life Measure. To maintain Antioch’s fiscal stability, police patrols, 911 emergency response, youth violence prevention programs; ensuring water quality/safety; repairing streets; cleaning up parks/illegal dumping; restoring youth afterschool/summer programs; 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,  expiring in twenty years, with mandatory annual independent financial audits, and independent citizens oversight?”

The meeting will be held at 4:00 p.m. in the Antioch City Council Chambers at City Hall located at 200 G Street in historic, downtown Rivertown.

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