Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

Antioch School Board places $105 million school facilities improvement bond on March ballot

Wednesday, November 13th, 2019

Will benefit schools and affect properties in former Mello-Roos District

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Wed., Nov. 13, 2019 the Antioch School Board voted 5-0 to place a $105 million bond on the March 3, 2020 ballot to pay for improvements to schools in the former Mello-Roos District. The annual cost is estimated at $60 per $100,000 in valuation. So, owners of a home valued at $500,000 will pay $300 per year. Resolution 2019-20-17 Ordering a School Bond Election in SFID No. 2

The bond measure requires a 55% vote of approval to pass and if passed, will raise an average of $7,000,000 annually for 36 years.

“This makes sense. It just makes sense. As a new homeowner I’m a bit scared by the tax,” said Velma Wilson, who was the only member of the public to speak. “I think it’s really good what Antioch High has done with Measure B. So, to see those bonds doing what they’re doing…and our schools with their upgrades, I think this is really good for our school district. Kids like to go to school with good facilities.”

The board also voted 5-0 to approve a resolution creating the facilities district. AUSD Formation of SFID No. 2

The resolution reads as follows:

“The Antioch Unified School District has formed School Facilities Improvement District #2 in the area of Antioch previously impacted by Mello Roos assessments. The Mello Roos District was dissolved in 2016. The Mello Roos Community Facilities Act of 1982 provided funds for the District to build schools during a period of rapid growth within Antioch Unified School District. The Mello Roos assessment helped pay for the construction Carmen Dragon Elementary, Diablo Vista Elementary, Jack London Elementary, Lone Tree Elementary, MNO Grant Elementary, Black Diamond Middle School, Dallas Ranch Middle School, Orchard Park K-8 School, Deer Valley High School, and Dozier-Libbey Medical High School.

This bond measure placed only before the voters in SFID#2 will provide funds to improve and maintain all of the schools within the former Mello Roos area. The funding will be provided over eight years with priorities set by the school board and monitored by an Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee.

The Improvements shall consist of projects which: renovate classrooms, update school safety and security systems, improve technology, energy efficiency, upgrade science labs, modernize schools, and repair and replace roofs, and to qualify for state matching funds.

To meet all identified school facility needs, the District may complete projects using a combination of funding sources. These sources may include joint-use funds, contributions, developer fees, state and federal funds and any other available funds.

The specific projects authorized to be financed with bond proceeds are as follows. The projects are authorized to be financed at all current and future sites within SFID#2.

  • Update aging classrooms and District facilities to support high quality instruction.
  • Upgrade electrical, communications, safety and security systems.
  • Replace heating ventilation and air conditioning units as needed.
  • Upgrade plumbing and renovate restrooms.
  • Repair/Replace roofing systems.
  • Repair and replace damaged and uneven paving and concrete.
  • Improve accessibility to sites, classrooms and upgrade playgrounds (ADA).
  • Repair and replace floors
  • Test foundations for seismic standards and upgrade as needed.
  • Renovate, modernize and/or remodel kitchen, food service and multipurpose spaces.
  • Update and improve athletic fields and facilities.
  • Make the necessary changes to improve drainage systems.
  • Update technology infrastructure and computer equipment (paid for within its useful life).
  • Replace old classroom desks, chairs and other necessary furniture.
  • Remodel, replace and refurbish classroom interiors.
  • Replace all exterior walkway damaged canopies.
  • Add exterior lighting to improve campus safety.
  • Reconfigure parking areas to improve traffic flow and student safety.
  • Remove or replace aging portable buildings and classrooms with permanent construction.
  • Install dual pane windows to improve ventilation.
  • Replace underground infrastructure.
  • Install or repair playground equipment and play surfaces and structures.
  • Acquire and/or upgrade fencing to improve school safety.

Other Projects

  • Remove hazardous materials, such as asbestos, lead, etc., where necessary.
  • Address unforeseen conditions revealed by construction/modernization (such as plumbing or gas line breaks, dry rot, seismic, structural, etc.).
  • Other improvements required to comply with existing building codes, including the Field Act, and access requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
  • Necessary site preparation/restoration in connection with new construction, renovation or remodeling, or installation or removal of re-locatable classrooms, including removing, replacing, or installing irrigation, utility lines (such as gas lines, water lines, electrical lines, sewer lines, and communication lines), trees and landscaping.
  • Rental or construction of storage facilities and other space on an interim basis, as needed to accommodate construction materials, equipment, and personnel, and interim classrooms (including re-locatable classrooms) for students and school functions or other storage for classroom materials displaced during construction.
  • All work necessary and incidental to specific projects described above, including demolition of existing structures.
  • Paint the interior and exterior of buildings.
  • Repair and replace damaged and uneven paving and concrete.
  • Provide classroom furniture and equipment as needed.
  • Improve school building safety and security.”

A request was made to Superintendent Stephanie Anello for a map of the new facilities district which was not included with the resolution. To see if your property is affected, please check the following report of parcels with streets listed in alphabetical order: Parcels for Proposed SFID 2

Please check back later for updates to this report.

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Supervisors form committee to consider half-cent sales tax measure for Nov. 2020 ballot

Thursday, October 24th, 2019

The Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors recognized the community service of CERT C-8 on Tuesday. Currently consisting of 70 members, supervisors recognized the organization that is known to dispatch volunteers to train senior care staff, serve as Amateur Radio Operators, Red Cross Shelter workers, traffic control and join the Contra Costa CART. C-8 has helped to get Spanish Cert out to many areas of the county. The program is called Listos. Photo by Daniel Borsuk.

Demand NuStar Energy safety probe before Crockett plant is reopened following fire

By Daniel Borsuk

At their meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, Contra Costa County Supervisors voted 4-0 to create an ad hoc committee to explore the feasibility of placing on the ballot a sales tax measure. The committee will consist mainly of union leaders, county agency heads and nonprofit organizations leaders.

On the vote, District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover was absent.

At the recommendation of District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff, who serves on the Finance Committee, proposed the establishment of a citizen-based ad hoc committee to study a proposal that could wind up on a ballot for county voters to decide on perhaps by the November 2020 general election.

In California, the maximum sales, use, and transactions tax rate is 9.25 percent. That includes a statewide base sale and use tax of 7.25 percent and up to 2 percent for local district transaction and use taxes.

Current projections for annual revenues for a countywide transaction and use tax are one half cent $93 million and quarter cent $46.5 million. Current projections for annual revenues for an unincorporated area transaction and use tax are one half cent: $8.32 million and one.

So far, the ad hoc committee will study several potential tax scenarios. Current projections for annual revenues for a countywide transaction and use tax area:

. 0.50 percent (1/2 cent): $93 million

. 0.25 percent (1/4 cent): $46.5 million

Projections for annual revenues for an unincorporated area transaction and use tax are:

. 0.50 percent (1/2 cent): $8.32 million

. 0.25 percent (1/4 cent): $4.16 million

Mitchoff said she is promoting the sales tax ad hoc committee because she frequently hears from constituents why Contra Costa County does not have a sales tax while other counties like Alameda, San San Mateo, Santa Clara and others do draw additional revenues for county services from a sales tax.

The ad hoc committee will be led by stake holders, not supervisors, Mitchoff said. “We want all comers at the table,” she said. “This will be a difficult lift.”

“This is a huge opportunity,” said Sean Casey, executive director of the nonprofit organization First 5. “16,000 families could benefit from this in Contra Costa County.”

Demand NuStar Energy Plant Safety Probe

Also during their meeting, the Supervisors demanded that county officials confirm that operators of the fire damaged NuStar Energy plant in Crockett not resume operations until its fire and hazardous materials safety measures have been completely reviewed and upgraded by state and federal authorities.

“I want updated progress reports on your investigations,” demanded Board Chair John Gioia, whose District 1 covers the Crockett refinery location where the fire erupted from a tank filled with ethanol at 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, October 15. The fire spread, catching a nearby tank also containing ethanol. Some 250,000 gallons of ethanol were destroyed in the fire.

The blaze forced county authorities to call a Shelter in Place in the Crockett area. Interstate 80 was closed for six hours. The incident was officially over at 8:10 p.m. when I-80 was reopened to traffic by the Highway Patrol, said Contra Costa County Director of Hazardous Materials Randy Sawyer.

“At the end of the day, the incident was contained, “said Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Chief Lewis Broschard. “No other tanks were destroyed. No other materials were discharged.”

Broschard told supervisors it was through the fire fighting resources of NuStar Energy and several other refineries that were able to promptly respond to the fire site to assist CCCFPD in extinguishing fire. Those refineries – Shell, Chevon, Phillips 66, Tessoro, and Marathon – supplied foam that the county fire district did not have to adequately extinguish the blaze, said Chief Broschard.

Chief Broschard said at this time there is no known cause for the fire including whether arson may have been a factor.

Gioia made it clear to Contra Costa County Fire Protection District Chief Broschard and Contra Costa County Hazardous Materials Program Director Randy Sawyer that he wants a thorough investigation completed before “there is a reopening” of the NuStar plant.

Supervisors heard from eight speakers, all critical of NuStar and its safety track record.

NuStar spokesperson Mary Rose Brown told the Contra Costa Herald via an emailed message:

“We absolutely agree, and we are working closely and cooperatively with CalOSHA and other regulatory agencies on detailed plans to ensure that the facility is safe to operate before it is reopened. We also are continuing to work in very close cooperation with all applicable local and state regulatory agencies to investigate the root cause of the incident so that we can take whatever measures are required to ensure the continued safety of our employees, contractors, neighbors and the community. We worked over the weekend to pump liquids out of the incident area and CalOSHA and local fire investigators accessed the area today (Tuesday).”

County resident Carl Davidson suggested that the NuStar plant incident may have been triggered by a seismic event since the facility is located on the Pinole fault and the fire erupted after seismic events were reported in the Pleasant Hill area the previous day.

Twenty-five-year Crockett area resident Isabella Izzi said the board of supervisors and regulators should clamp down on NuStar for this environmental violation and future violations by requiring the refiner to provide hazmat masks to all residents of Crockett. “The Board of Supervisors should make it clear that it will deny any new expansion at that refinery,” she said.

Dan Torres, a representative of an industrial fire sprinkler installation union, questioned the quality and reliability of the fire sprinkler system installed at NuStar.

At the end, Chair Gioia asked that updates on the NuStar fire will be reported at the Public Safety Committee that he chairs.

In other business, the supervisors:

-Approved a $240,000 contract to Concord Yellow Cab, Inc. to provide non-emergency taxicab transportation services for Contra Costa Regional Medical center and Contra Costa Health Center patients for the period July 1, 2019 through June 30, 2020. The county pays taxicab service for patients unable to transport themselves to medical appointments due to medical conditions, including physical disabilities, patients who have verifiable seizure disorder or patients who have received medications which has or could impair their mobility.

-Approved a $1.97 million Public Works Department contract with Debri-Tech, Inc. to provide on-call assistance with trash and abandoned waste cleanup and removal for the Contra Costa County Watershed Program for the program October 15, 2019 through September 30, 2022.

-Approved the issuance of $85 million in Multifamily Housing Revenue Bond by the California Statewide Communities Development Authority for the Fairfield Hilltop LP, a California limited partnership, to provide for the financing of the acquisition and rehabilitation of a 322-unit multi-family housing development known as Hilltop Commons Apartments located at 15690l Crestwood Dr.

 

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Antioch Council votes to support 2020 county transportation half-cent sales tax ballot measure, expenditure plan

Wednesday, October 23rd, 2019

$3.6 billion plan will provide $1 billion to East County, including an additional $1.6 million per year for local roads in Antioch

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Tuesday night, Oct. 22, 2019, the Antioch City Council voted unanimously to support placing a second countywide, half-cent sales tax for transportation on the March 2020 ballot, as well as the associated expenditure plan. The measure is expected to generate $3.6 billion in revenue over the next 35 years. If passed, it will go into effect July 1, 2020 and will overlap the county’s current half-cent sales tax for transportation for 14 years. See plan, here: Draft 2020 Transportation Expenditure Plan

“We have support from all the cities in the county, except for Antioch and one other city. We still need two-thirds of the voters to approve the plan in order for it to take effect,” said Hisham Noeimi, Director of Programming for the Contra Costa Transportation Authority, who provided the presentation. “Despite our success our work is not done, yet. We still have four of the 10 most congested corridors in the Bay Area.” See presentation, here: 2020 Transportation Expenditure Plan Presentation

The other reason for the ballot measure is the housing jobs imbalance in the county, he explained.

“If we can bring jobs to housing rich areas, like Eastern Contra Costa County, that will help. We added 350,000 people over the last 20 years which has put strains on our transportation system. We expect to add another 350,000 people over the next 35 years.”

“The TEP (Transportation Expenditure Plan) attempts to provide the funding for all these needs…with a focus on green modes of transportation, like transit and bike, and growth management,” Noeimi continued.

The cost is estimated to be about $50 to $75 per household on average per year.

He said that $1.6 billion focused on major road improvements.

“The remaining $2 billion will be spent in your communities, coming back to the cities to improve your local streets, and improved transit services…to make it cleaner, more efficient,” Noeimi stated. “There is funding to attract jobs to East Contra Costa. There is also funding to improve air quality.”

“It was developed with sub-region equity in mind. So, for East County that’s about 28% of the $3.6 billion that will come back to East County.

“At the Authority we recognize we can’t widen our way out of the problem. That’s why funds will be spent on transit, what we call green transportation. Most of it will be spent along the major corridors in East County, Highway 4, 242, Vasco Road, the road to Byron Airport…” he said.

“Right now, Antioch receives $1.5 million per year for local roads and transportation. If it passes, the city will receive another $1.6 million per year,” Noeimi shared.

“With the TEP, over the next 35 years we will be able to reduce green house gas emissions by 7%. The TEP is more than funding. New policies include improving growth management, making transportation more efficient and our roads safer,” he concluded.

Councilman Lamar Thorpe asked about the Growth Management Plan asking, “Are you talking about the Urban Limit Line?”

“Yes,” Noeimi replied.

“I didn’t understand it this way, but would the county Urban Limit Line supersede our Urban Limit Line?” Thorpe asked.

No. Antioch has its own voter approved Urban Limit Line,’ Noeimi said, then referred to “hillside development. Ridgeline protection. If you have one of these conditions and have a policy to address them, then you mark the box.”

“We’re asking the cities to adopt a Vision Zero Policy, to make our streets safer for all users,” he added.

Thorpe responded, “So, again, getting people out of cars, getting them on bikes in a suburban community.”

TriDelta Transit will get $110 million out of the $392 million in the program, Noeimi shared

“You said something about the cities and a checklist. The return to source money…is conditioned upon the cities meeting their growth management plan. They have to submit a checklist to the CCTA every two years. That just carries that same procedure. If they don’t meet the checklist are the return to source funds withheld?” Councilwoman Lori Ogorchock asked.

“Yes,” Noeimi replied. “That hasn’t happened in the last 30 years.”

Mayor Pro Tem Joy Motts asked about the ferry service to Antioch included in the plan.

“The funding can be used for WETA (the Bay Area’s Water Emergency Transportation Authority) or privately-run service, the landing platform,” Noeimi explained. “The money in Antioch could be used for that.”

Mayor Sean Wright then said, “The three-to-one leverage ratio is huge. The way that works, we use the money to start the planning process. Then we go out looking for…the state and federal funds. That’s what CCTA has been able to do.”

“Some of this money is coming back to East Contra Costa for economic development, trying to create jobs, here. A study has shown that if we were able to take 10% of the traffic on our freeways and reverse it…the Bay Area would go green, meaning our highways would no longer be red,” he stated.

Following the presentation, the council then considered the matter for a vote on a separate item on the agenda.

During public comments, Adam Alexander spoke in favor of the adoption of the TEP, saying, “As a training coordinator, representing the Carpenters Training Fund. I’m here to support the TEP…with the inclusion of the joint labor management apprenticeship training program.”

Antioch Police Crime Prevention Commissioner and recently announced city council candidate, Dwayne Eubanks spoke next.

“I want to speak out in support of this amendment…with the inclusion of a BART extension stop at Somersville,” he said. “Contra Loma Somersville is our core corridor. You have all that businesses there. Why don’t we have a stop there? Hillcrest isn’t the center of town. It’s probably too late. But I had to put that out there.”

The council then voted unanimously to approve the resolution supporting the half-cent sales tax Transportation Expenditure Plan and to place it on the March 2020 ballot.

 

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Supervisors review proposed $3.7 billion budget, discuss potential new tax

Thursday, April 18th, 2019

By Daniel Borsuk

The Contra Costa County Supervisors were presented Tuesday a proposed $3.69 billion budget for fiscal year 2019-2020 that sparked dialogue among supervisors of potentially developing a new tax source in order to support the county’s growing service needs, especially in the areas of health, medical, employment and human services.

The proposed 2019-2020 budget consists of $1.7 billion in county imposed general fund revenue that is approximately the same level of local tax revenue budgeted for the current 2018-2019 fiscal year. State and federal funds make up the other $2 billion in budget revenue.

Supervisors voted 4-0 to instruct county administrator David Twa to present the budget for adoption at its May 7 meeting. Vice chair Candace Andersen of Danville was absent at the time of the vote.

“After several years of relative stability, we now enter a period of needing to adjust our county budget to meet challenges due to uncertainties to countywide revenue streams (especially in the Health Services and the Employment & Human Services departments), compounded by sharply rising wage and benefit costs,” County Administrator Twa wrote in his 2019-2020 budget presentation. CCCo Budget Presentation 19-20 Draft

In the 2019-2020 fiscal year county officials plan to wrap up labor negotiations with the Physicians and Dentists Organization that represents workers in the Health and Human Services and at Contra Costa Regional Medical Center and Clinics, the District Attorney Investigators Association, the Deputy Services Association and the In-Home Supportive Services Association.

Even in a good economy, Contra Costa County employees find themselves underpaid on average 5 percent to 8 percent of what their counterparts earn at similar jobs in the Bay Area. Supervisors listened to a number of speakers representing the county’s health care system, Contra Costa CARES, that the county needs to boost salaries of its healthcare workers 8 percent if it expects to retain employees.

For next fiscal year, county medical director Anna Roth proposed that the supervisors approve a 3 percent cost of living adjustment, designate $135 million in county general funds, count on $1.6 billion in revenues, but expect expenses of $1.8 billion. The department plans to expand the West County Behavioral Health Center next year, she said.

“We’ve got some work to do,” said District 4 Supervisor Karen Mitchoff of Pleasant Hill upon noticing a projected a combined general fund deficit from health services and human services of at least $30 million.

Noting how other Bay Area counties like San Francisco, Alameda, and San Mateo can adequately pay county workers because of additional tax revenues streaming in from property and sales tax sources, board chair John Gioia of Richmond said, “Other counties have robust tax revenue resources. We don’t have that.”

“You say we need more money,” said District 5 Supervisor Federal Glover of Pittsburg. “We have to be creative.”

Employment and Human Services Director Kathy Gallagher said to balance her department’s budget for 2019-2020 she will have to eliminate 67 positions. For next fiscal year, EHS will have 1,904 fulltime positions in order to operate its diverse operations such as Adult Protection Services that has undergone some criticism for alleged financial abuse of its clients.

Sheriff-Coroner David Livingston has proposed a $7 million increase for salaries and benefits for his 685 sworn officers and 350 non-sworn personnel. For next fiscal year, the sheriff plans to hire three additional sworn officers. Planning for a proposed 128 bed mental health facility for the West County Detention Center in Richmond is back on track after being sidelined for rising construction costs, mostly related to steel tariffs.

With $44 million proposed for the District Attorney’s Office, District Attorney Diana Becton plans to increase staffing in the human trafficking unit by $1 million. The DA Office has 222.5 positions on the payroll of which 102 are attorneys, 33 are investigators, 17 are victim/witness experts, and 70.5 are administrative support.

A $3.7 million project at Buchanan Air Field is one of the big tasks on drawing boards for the Public Works Department next fiscal year, department director Brian Balbas said, but the biggest challenge is retaining staff. With a $254 million budget and 545 employees, Balbas said his department is hampered by a high turnover rate of more than 20 percent when workers find better paying jobs at other counties or in the private sector. “The focus for 2019/2020 will be in recruitment and retention,” he told supervisors.

Public Defender Robin Lipesky said in addition to handling 6,900 misdemeanor cases, 3,747 felony cases, and 450 bail hearings, her department handled 600 Stand Together Contra Costa legal consultations, a new duty of her department. Citing a decline in the county’s juvenile population and a decline in the juvenile hall population, the department plans to cut 22 juvenile justice positions, she said.

Supervisors Salary Ordinance Approved

On a 3-2 vote, with supervisors Candace Andersen of Danville and Diane Burgis of Brentwood casting the dissenting votes, supervisors approved an ordinance that will raise their salaries at an established percentage, 65 percent of the annual salary of the Office of Superior Court Judge, effective January 1, 2021.

Effective June 30, each supervisor will earn a monthly base salary of $9,736.75, equivalent to an annual salary of $116,841.

From July 1, 2019 through Dec. 31, 2019 supervisors will each earn an annual salary equal to 60 percent of the annual salary for the Office of Superior Court Judge as prescribed by the state legislature. Supervisors will receive another salary boost effective January 1, 2020 through December 31, 2020 at a base of 63 percent of a Contra Costa County Superior Court Judge. A third and final salary hike equal to 65 percent of the annual salary for the Office of Superior Court Judge in Contra Costa County would go into effect after January 1, 2021.

In addition to the pay increases, each supervisor will receive reimbursement for “reasonable expenses incurred in the conduct of such office” and “eligibility for an eighty-five-dollar monthly contribution to the county’s deferred compensation plan in the same manner as other exempt management employees.”

Each supervisor will also receive an automobile allowance of $600 per month and, in addition to the automobile allowance, mileage at the rate per mile allowed by the Internal Revenue Service as a deductible expense, for all miles driven by the supervisor on county business outside that supervisor’s district.

Supervisors OK Revised WCCTAC Transit Mitigation Fee

In other business, supervisors unanimously approved revised property transportation mitigation fees developers in unincorporated parts of the West Contra Costa Transportation Advisory Committee area of El Cerrito, Hercules, Pinole, Richmond, and San Pablo that have been in place since 1997.

No one spoke either in favor of or in protest against the fees that are assessed to go towards construction of transportation projects.

Since the inception of the WCCTAC transit mitigation fees in 1997, $11.6 million has been raised to help alleviate transportation impacts from residential, commercial or industrial development, said John Cunningham of the Contra Costa County Conservation and Development Department.

Revenues from the transit mitigation fee cover 19 percent of the construction costs of transit projects in the WCCTAC area. Some of those projects include $9,672 towards a $50,903 San Pablo Avenue complete streets project, $156 for the I-580/Harbour Way Interchange pedestrian and bicycle access improvements, $10,175 for the Hercules Regional Intermodal Transportation Center, and $20,749 for capital improvements to the I-80 Express Bus Service.

Accessory dwelling units are exempt from the revised transit mitigation fees that will go into effect July 1, 2020 and will increase or decrease every July 1 thereafter based by the annual percentage change in the Engineering News Record Construction Cost Index for the San Francisco Bay Area for the 12 month period ending with the February index of the same year in which the increase or decrease will take effect

The new WCCTAC transit mitigation fees are multi-family residential, $5,439 per dwelling unit; senior housing, $1,469 per dwelling unit; hotel, $3,481 per hotel unit; retail/service, $6.59 per square foot; office, $8.12 per square foot; industrial, $5.56 per square foot; storage facility, 0.76 per square foot; and other, $7 per square foot.

Red Cross Community Services Award Recipients

As a consent items, supervisors adopted resolutions honoring Bryan Canty of Antioch as recipient of the 2019 Red Cross Good Samaritan Award, Samantha Barhouse, also of Antioch, as recipient of the 2019 Red Cross Disaster Service Award, and the San Damiano Retreat Center of Danville, as the recipient of the 2019 Red Cross Community Service Award.

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New Year means higher tolls on seven Bay Area bridges beginning Tuesday

Monday, December 31st, 2018

Bay Bridge Toll Plaza photos taken 9 /16 & 18/13. Karl Nielsen Photography, www.karlnielsenphotography.com, (805) 570-3395

First of three voter-approved increases

The Bay Area Toll Authority (BATA) reminds drivers that several important changes take effect Jan. 1, 2019, at the region’s seven state-owned toll bridges. These include the first of the $1 toll increases approved last year through state Senate Bill 595 and confirmed by voters through Regional Measure 3 in June 2018. This will mark the first toll hike at the state-owned toll bridges since 2010. Additional $1 increases will go into effect on Jan. 1, 2022, and on Jan. 1, 2025.

Regular tolls for two-axle cars and trucks (as well as for motorcycles) at the Antioch, Benicia-Martinez, Carquinez, Dumbarton, Richmond-San Rafael and San Mateo-Hayward bridges will rise to $6 from the current $5 on Jan. 1, 2019.

At the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge, regular tolls will climb to $7 from the current $6 on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. During weekday off-peak hours from 12 midnight to 5 a.m., from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and from 7 p.m. to midnight, Bay Bridge tolls will rise from $4 to $5; and on Saturdays and Sundays, Bay Bridge tolls will increase to $6 from the current $5.

Tolls for vehicles with three or more axles also will rise by $1 on Jan. 1, 2019, at all seven of the state-owned toll bridges: to $16 for three axles, $21 for four-axles, $26 for five axles, $31 for six axles, and $36 for combinations with seven or more axles.

Senate Bill 595 continues the peak-period toll discount for motorcycles, carpools and qualifying clean-air vehicles crossing any of the state-owned toll bridges on weekdays from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. The discounted toll is scheduled to increase to $3 on Jan. 1, 2019, from the current $2.50. To qualify for this discount, carpoolers, motorcyclists and drivers of qualifying clean-air vehicles must use FasTrak to pay their tolls electronically and must use a designated carpool lane at each toll plaza.

Senate Bill 595 also established a 50-cent toll discount for two-axle vehicles crossing more than one of the state-owned toll bridges during weekday commute hours of 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. To be eligible for the toll discount, which is to be applied to the second toll crossing of the day, motorists must pay their tolls electronically with FasTrak. Carpools, motorcycles and qualifying clean-air vehicles making a second peak-period toll crossing in a single day will qualify for an additional 25-cent discount off the already-discounted carpool toll. The two-bridge discount will not be available to drivers who use cash to pay their tolls.

New FasTrak customers can obtain toll tags at hundreds of Walgreens and Costco stores around the Bay Area. A complete list of participating locations — as well as an online enrollment and registration feature — is available on the FasTrak Web site at bayareafastrak.org. Customers also may enroll in the FasTrak program by phone at 1-877-229-8655; by calling 511 and asking for “FasTrak” at the first prompt; or in person at the FasTrak customer service center at 375 Beale Street in San Francisco. Operating hours are Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. and Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. FasTrak can be used in all lanes at all Bay Area toll plazas.

On Wednesday, Dec. 19, 2018 BATA formally approved the new toll schedule through adoption of BATA Resolution No. 128 at its regular December meeting. The Authority today also adopted BATA Resolution No. 129, which authorizes arrangements for the escrow of Regional Measure 3 funds pending the resolution of two lawsuits challenging state Senate Bill 595 and Regional Measure 3. Both lawsuits are pending in Superior Court in the City and County of San Francisco. Under BATA Resolution No. 129, the Regional Measure 3 toll increases, when collected, will be placed into an escrow account managed by an independent trustee. Following a process similar to voter-approved sales tax measures that face legal challenge, these funds will be transferred at least once each week from BATA to a Union Bank (Mitsubishi United Financial Group – MUFG) trust account, where the funds will be managed by a bank trust officer until final resolution of all litigation. Once the BATA legal team certifies there is a final resolution, the Authority will be asked to release the escrow. If BATA prevails in the litigation, the funds will be applied to BATA-approved programs. If BATA should lose the litigation, the funds will be reimbursed to tollpayers.

BATA, which is directed by the same policy board as the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC), administers toll revenues from the Bay Area’s seven state-owned toll bridges. Toll revenues from the Golden Gate Bridge are administered by the Golden Gate Bridge, Highway and Transportation District, which joined with BATA to operate a single regional FasTrak customer service center in San Francisco. MTC is the transportation planning, financing and coordinating agency for the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area.

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Antioch Council united in placing revised sales tax measure on November ballot with 20-year sunset, oversight included

Thursday, August 9th, 2018

Council warned by taxpayers association that the funds will be used to pay pension liability

By Allen Payton

During a fourth special meeting of the Antioch City Council to place a sales tax increase measure on the November ballot, on Thursday, August 9, 2018, the two members who voted against the proposal during Tuesday’s meeting, reversed course and joined the other three for a unanimous vote.  (See related article). The issue was the addition of a 20-year termination, or sunset clause, for the tax and inclusion of continuing the citizens oversight of the use of the funds from the measure. Both Mayor Pro Tem Thorpe and Council Member Monica Wilson who developed the tax measure in their ad hoc committee, had opposed the inclusion of those two items. But, since state law requires a two-thirds vote of the council to place a sales tax measure on the ballot at least one of them had to switch their vote to get the necessary four votes.

The measure, if passed by the voters, will double the half-cent sales tax from Measure C passed by the voters in 2013, to a full one cent on each dollar of taxable sales in Antioch. It will increase the revenue from approximately $7 million to about $14 million per year from the additional tax.. (See related article).

Following Interim City Attorney Derek Cole’s explanation for the need of a fourth meeting and apologizing for the oversight during Tuesday’s meeting, he said, “as long as you have four votes, it can be placed on the ballot.”

Thorpe then made a motion to reconsider the council’s action from Tuesday night, and it was seconded by Wilson.

That had to pass, first or the ballot measure could not be placed on the ballot and according to Cole, “It has to come from the prevailing side, which in this case was those who voted ‘no’.”

The motion passed unanimously. Then, the council heard comments from the public

Mayor Sean Wright read a comment by Jeffrey Klingler emailed earlier in the day.

“I’m very disappointed that this resolution is again before the city council because of a technical oversight,” he wrote. “Moreover, I am particularly frustrated at how we got to this point. Because this resolution and ballot language was presented to the city council at the last minute there was limited time for open discussion and consideration of public comment (for which the structured environment of polling is not a substitute). Nonetheless, the numerous special council meetings have allowed for the necessary discussions to take place and the meeting of August 7th should have brought this issue to closure.”

“The ad hoc committee has been working for many months on the quality of life initiative and it is bewildering this issue could not have been considered much earlier,” Klinger continued. “As such, I believe the obligation for passage lies with the members of the ad hoc committee to strike the appropriate compromise. I am confident that will be the outcome.”

“I look forward to a ballot measure that will help our city move forward with the critical funding necessary for its success,” he concluded.

Resident Fred Hoskins spoke next.

“I’m going to say, unfortunately for you I only have three minutes, because I could express a lot of ideas,” he said. “I am extremely disappointed in every one of you. I can’t believe it has been initiated in the first place. I was never surveyed for anything.”

“How can we jam down the throats of the citizens of Antioch another half-cent sales tax? That’s what this is about,” Hoskins stated.

He said that he campaigned against Measure C

“I said this is not going away. I was right,” he continued. “I have never seen an objective process or projects for the advancement of this city…the land use of downtown has been put on the shelf because they’re too political. No improvements have been made to the waterfront. We have Humphrey’s that’s going to be Smith’s Landing. Great. I hope they’re successful.”

“You offer no solutions, so you as a council look for ways to tax us,” Hoskins said. “You’re sure kicking the can down the road and 20 years is a joke. It ought to be six months and you figure out how to find the revenue.”

Hal Bray, representing Contra Costa Taxpayers Association spoke next.

“We believe that you’re not being completely honest with the people of Antioch about the uses of the revenue from this sales tax,” he stated. “Your pension costs…will double in the next five years. We believe you’re already using tax revenue meant for other services, for pension costs.  We believe you need to put in place a plan to deal with these rising costs. Other cities have put in place plans, such as a 115 Trust and contracting out services.”

Regarding employee pension contributions Bray said, “We believe the cost should be shared 50-50” with employees paying half the cost of their pensions and the city paying the other half. “You could have $4.5 million more for services if you split the costs with your employees.”

“The average Social Security pension is $16,000. The average CalPers pension of a full-time worker is $70,000 and for public safety officer it is $104,000,” he shared. “We believe it’s unfair for the residents of Antioch, so the people can be paid five to six times what the average retiree gets paid. We are ready to meet when you are.”

Antioch Economic Development Commissioner Tim McCall offered the final public comments in favor of the measure.

“First, to Ms. Wilson and Mr. Thorpe, to all the staff who worked on this…I know you all worked very hard. I appreciate your hard work,” he said. “Mrs. Ogorchock, thank you for your conviction and sticking by it. Mayor Wright, thank for being willing to compromise. Mr. Tiscareno, thank you for standing strong on the 20-year sunset.”

“This will not unite Antioch. It is dividing Antioch. We need to pass this,” McCall stated. “Mr. Thorpe, I do agree with you that the original wording would be a feel good. But, the leaders have spoken and said they want a sunset clause. We’re just going to have to campaign harder. I will help you campaign.

“This city needs to be united. The council needs to be united tonight,” he continued. “Let’s not revisit this in nine years. There will be lots of discussion about how to spend this money. It would be a benefit to start that united.”

The council then took up the issue with Thorpe saying, “Thank you Mr. City Attorney for taking responsibility for this small mishap. I believe Councilwoman Wilson and I believe our votes, last time were symbolic…recognizing that we did work hard…and that we were standing by our work. Although we voted no, the next day we were right back at it, working hard to figure out how to pass it.”

He then made a motion to include the 20-year sunset and citizens oversight in the measure. It was seconded by Wilson and the council voted unanimously to place it on the November ballot.

The final ballot language is 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 election will be held on Tuesday, November 6 and the measure requires a simple majority of votes to pass.

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On 3-2 vote Antioch Council adds 20-year sunset clause, public oversight to sales tax measure; will hold fourth special meeting on Thursday

Wednesday, August 8th, 2018

Measure requires votes of four council members to place on ballot.

By Allen Payton

During a third special meeting to deal with the one-cent sales tax measure for the November ballot, the Antioch City Council, on Tuesday voted 3-2 to add a 20-year termination, known as a sunset, and the continuation of the citizens’ oversight committee to the language. Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe and Councilwoman Monica Wilson were the dissenting votes.  The measure will double the current half-cent sales tax of Measure C to a full one-cent tax on every dollar spent on items to which the state sales tax is applied. (See related article)

But, in a perfect example of haste makes waste, even after all their discussions and actions during the three special meetings, in a last-minute effort to place the measure on the November ballot before the August 10th deadline, the council still didn’t get it done correctly and will have to return for a fourth special meeting on Thursday. That’s because it takes a two-thirds vote of the council to place a sales tax measure on the ballot, which means the votes of at least four of the five council members, not just a majority of three. (See Council Meeting Agenda, here: ACC080918)

Interim City Attorney Derek Cole took responsibility for the mistake.

“There is a provision in the state Revenue and Tax Code that requires a two-thirds vote of the council to place a transaction and use tax measure on the ballot,” he explained. “In the heat of the moment I did not properly advise the council. It was entirely an error on my part. If they don’t have a super majority they are not allowed to put the measure before the voters.”

“It still requires only a majority of voters to pass it in November,” Cole added.

That means either or both Thorpe and Wilson will have to vote in favor of placing the measure on the ballot. Thorpe was asked about that fact.

“That could potentially be an outcome and it may have been a different vote, last night had they explained that,” he responded. “Maybe we would have come up with a different resolution.”

The Thursday, Aug. 9th meeting will be held at 5:15 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall located at 200 H Street.

Council Adds Sunset Clause, Oversight to Ballot Measure Language

“The 20-year sunset was not included in the survey,” City Manager Ron Bernal stated in his opening remarks. “Therefore, we do not know how the voters will respond.”

In discussing adding the sunset clause, Mayor Sean Wright offered a nine-year termination instead of the 20-year approved by the council at last Friday’s special meeting. That was in response to Bernal stating that if the council included the sunset that the city’s consultant suggested a single digit, nine-year term.

Only one member of the public spoke on the item, Antioch resident and regular council meeting attendee, Marty Fernandez referring to the part of the ballot measure language about ensuring water quality.

“Isn’t that why our water bills went up last month?” he asked. “You need to face reality. You haven’t once mentioned unfunded liabilities and pensions. (City Finance Director) Dawn Merchant has been telling you for five years you’re going to run out of money. What’s the plan? What happens if this measure doesn’t pass?

Thorpe and Wilson served on the council appointed ad hoc committee which conducted two polls, surveying likely Antioch voters over the past year-and-a-half. They were not happy with including a sunset clause.

When asked who developed the survey questions, Wilson responded “RM3”, the consulting firm hired to perform the survey. Asked if the subcommittee members and city staff provided any input, she responded, “They took our opinion, but mainly RM3” developed the questions.

When asked why a question about a sunset clause wasn’t included Bernal responded, “the survey included normal questions. The goal was a quality of life survey and how things are going.”

“We did two surveys,” Thorpe explained. “The first one included a tax measure without a sunset. It was supported overwhelmingly. So, there was no need to refine it for the second survey.”

Before the vote on the motion by Council Members Lori Ogorchock and Tony Tiscareno, Wilson said “I believe this measure needs to go on the ballot. But, I’m opposed to this 20-year time frame.”

Thorpe went further, blasting the three council members who supported adding the sunset.

“It’s disappointing after a year-and-a-half of work, not just us, but department heads…ensured it had guard rails in it, that after all that work, it gets thrown out the window,” he stated. “This was one of Ron’s (Bernal’s) outcomes. He brought in the best and brightest in California. The Chief (of Police Tammany Brooks) was one of the main people out there asking for the public’s input.”

“I am beyond disbelief and disgust,” Thorpe continued. “I can only shake my head at the level of foolishness to endanger our ballot measure. Other than trying to people please, when the people we’re trying to please are the ones who were surveyed.”

Then he took a swipe at City Clerk Arne Simonsen who has been critic of the sales tax on social media.

“I’m also disappointed you, City Clerk have participated in some of the undermining,” Thorpe added.

Tiscareno responded, saying “I think we can get this thing passed as it is. This is an extension to Measure C. If this measure fails because of a sunset, then I’ve failed our police department.”

“I feel as confident as I did when we looked at Measure C. I truly believe we’re going to do well. All we need is 50 percent plus one,” he added. “I respect the work that you did. I just want to make sure we do what’s in the best interest of the city.”

Mayor Sean Wright also responded to Thorpe, taking him to task.

“I think it’s unfair to reprimand the council for not listening to the ad hoc committee,” he said. “The ad hoc committee is asked to do work and come back and for the council to think and deliberate on that and not to blindly follow. You may disagree with that. But, to have something put in front of me and given three days to think about and discuss what’s been worked on for the last nine months is I think a little unfair to council, to then say blindly do this and trust us because we’ve done the work without us being able to have that same amount of time. I think the past two weeks has given us an opportunity to be able to look and discuss and I think council has come to the realization and understanding what some of our constituents have asked for. They have asked for oversight…they have asked for a sunset. The truth is if we can get more and more people on board, there is not one person in the community is going to come yell at me for adding a sunset. No one is going to yell at me for putting oversight on this. So, just because it wasn’t polled…that might have been nice to have been polled and have those numbers.”

Ogorchock had earlier and at previous meetings shared the same concern of a short time period being given to the rest of the council to discuss and decide on the ballot measure and the language it should contain.

The final ballot language adopted for the measure is 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?

To watch Tuesday’s council meeting via streaming on the city’s website, click here.

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

Monday, August 6th, 2018

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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