It’s April – time for spring cleaning. Start by signing the recall Mayor Wade Harper petition. We’ll deal with the rest of council later when they’re up for re-election. Please, folks stop re-electing the same people over and over. It’s obvious conditions in Antioch haven’t improved under their watch.
When Measure C, the seven-year, half-cent sales tax measure passed in 2013, the official ballot stated the measure was “to fund all essential city services, including increased police staffing to reduce crime and gang activities and improve 911 emergency response time; restored code enforcement to clean up blighted properties; and local economic development and job creation.”
At that time the police department was stating they had 87 full-time sworn police officers, only 75 who were at full duty capacity, although they were authorized for 102 officers.
In 2014, Measure O, a business license tax which updated the existing business license tax to include a residential landlord business license tax, was passed. Again the sales pitch was to increase police staffing levels.
However, a recent report from the Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee, appointed to oversee disbursements of Measure C funds, states that at present Antioch has 87 sworn police officers and one per diem Police Captain, five more officers than Antioch had in 2013, based on information given to the committee.
Huh? True the city may have hired five new officers but, as the report states, attrition has been happening almost as fast as hiring, We’re back to the same number of officers we started with in 2013.
As for Measure C fund accounting, it appears the City is using Measure C money to pay for police pay raises and promotion costs. The city’s General Fund should be paying not only for the 87 police officers and their raises but for the 102 officers authorized for hire at that time. Measure C money should only be paying for the 103rd officer hired and so on.
As for the funds generated by passage of Measure O, the money, like the money generated by Measure C, technically goes into the General Fund and can be used for any legitimate governmental purpose. The reason the city never put a dedicated police tax measure on the ballot is because it would require 2/3 voter approval to pass rather than a 50% plus one vote. Only 11,175 residents voted in regard to Measure C and 10,236 in regard to Measure O (5,208 voting yes and 5,028 voting no).
Incidentally, the council just passed a resolution to use General Fund reserves to fund an expenditure of $1,827,000 to purchase, install, program, maintain and train on hardware, software and radio equipment in order to become a participating agency in the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority. The expenditure was not included in the approved LFY 2014-15 budget.