Archive for the ‘Taxes’ Category

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

Wednesday, July 25th, 2018

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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Antioch Council to consider placing another sales tax increase on November ballot, doubling Measure C’s tax

Thursday, July 19th, 2018

Total would be one cent instead of the current half-cent sales tax

By Allen Payton

Before the city has fulfilled its 2013 commitment from Measure C’s half-cent sales tax to “immediately” hire 22 additional police officers, the Antioch Council will consider a staff recommendation place another sales tax measure on the November ballot to increase it to a full cent at their meeting on Tuesday night, July 24th. The increase if passed would begin two years before Measure C expires in April 2021. If the measure fails the city will have nnother chance to place it on the ballot, again in November 2020. 1 Cent Sales Tax Ballot Measure Staff Report

When the promise was made in the summer of 2013, by then-Mayor Wade Harper and the four members of the council, which included both current Council Members Monica Wilson and Tony Tiscareno, there were 89 sworn officers on the force and being paid for out of the city’s General Fund budget. To date Antioch has added a net eight sworn police officers to the force for a total of 97 sworn officers, from the Measure C revenue. However, city staff, at the direction of the council, and even the Citizens’ Sales Tax Oversight Committee, continue to use the base figure of 82 sworn officers, which is the total that were on the force at the time the measure passed in November 2013. The department staffing was reduced by seven officers in those several months due to retirement and other reasons.

So, while the council owes the taxpayers and residents of Antioch a total of 111 sworn officers from Measure C funds, their claim is that they only owe 104 officers.

According to the staff report for Tuesday night’s meeting agenda, Measure C currently generates $7.2 million per year for the city’s General Fund. Revenue from the proposed sales tax increase proposed would generate approximately double that amount and would be spent on a variety of items in the budget.

The draft proposed spending priorities include 60% to support public safety, including maintaining and restoring neighborhood police patrols, 20% to support youth services and 20% to support quality of life, fiscal stability and accountability. That means paying off the city’s pension debt. What the staff report doesn’t include is any commitment to the number of additional sworn police officers the tax increase will pay for.  1 Cent Sales Tax Draft Spending Priorities

The proposed ballot measure would have the following title:

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 council meeting begins at 7:00 p.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall, 200 H Street, between W. 2nd and 3rd Streets in downtown Antioch. It can be viewed live on local cable TV channels or via the city’s website.

To see the complete council meeting agenda, click here.

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Call for Applications: San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority, Independent Citizens Oversight Committee

Thursday, April 5th, 2018

Deadline Extended – Due April 18, 2018

Measure AA is expected to generate $25 million annually for San Francisco Bay restoration over the next 20 years. Funding from this voter-approved measure will allow for the restoration of thousands of acres of natural habitat for wildlife, support our local economy, improve access to public lands, address flooding issues, and create thousands of new jobs.

The San Francisco Bay Restoration Authority’s Governing Board seeks six individuals to serve on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee. The Committee has three main roles:

  1. Annually review the Authority’s conformance with Measure AA.
  2. Review the Authority’s audits and expenditure and financial reports.
  3. Publish an annual report of its findings, which will be posted on the Authority’s website.

The Board seeks committee members from all four Bay Area regions (North Bay, East Bay, South Bay and West Bay) with special subject matter expertise. Each member of the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee must possess expertise in one or more of the following:

  • Water quality
  • Pollution reduction
  • Habitat restoration
  • Flood protection
  • Improvement of public access to the San Francisco Bay
  • Financing of these objectives.

Ineligibility Factors for Membership

No person may serve on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee who:

  • Is an elected official or government employee;
  • Has had or could have a financial interest in a decision of the Authority; or
  • Is affiliated with an organization associated with a member of the Governing Board.

Apply to serve on the Independent Citizens Oversight Committee by April 18, 2018.

Application Submittal, Materials, and Deadline

Send your application to karen.mcdowell@sfestuary.org by April 18, 2018. Electronic signatures and scanned signatures will be accepted.

For more information, visit the SF Bay Restoration Authority’s website or contact Karen McDowell, Project Manager, SF Bay Restoration Authority or 415-778-6685.

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