Watchdog: On proposed Antioch tax increases and City spending

Watchdog-LogoBefore you decide how you’ll vote on the city’s proposed sales and business license tax measures, which will cost the City about $220,00 to put on the November ballot, consider the following:

There are 19 cities in our county. 12 cities, including Antioch have an 8.5% sales tax, 6 have a 9% sales tax and one (El Cerrito) a 9.5% sales tax. Do we want people to shop Antioch or do we want to tack on another a half cent sales tax increase on every purchase which could conceivable lead small businesses to raise prices, reduce wages, lay off employees or even close their doors for good?

As for the yet to drafted ballot measure to tax owners of rental properties ($240 a year for each rental unit for 1 to 25 units etc.) you may be amazed to know that when queried, City Manager Jim Jakel, told me the police department does not track calls for service based on rental or owner occupancy. Nor does the police department track how many calls for service at apartment complexes vs. calls to SFR units. They only track the number of calls for a particular address.

Rather than imposing a business license tax on residential properties, the City should reinstate the Rental Inspection Program, suspended due to staff reductions. The propose of that program was to proactively identify blighted, deteriorated and substandard rental housing stock, required property owner to address any code violations and was paid for by rental property owners through registration and inspection fees. Regrettably, the City is not currently recruiting Code Enforcement Officers. Currently there are only two contract officers in addition to Ryan Graham, Deputy of Community Development and Recreation who oversees the day to day operations of code enforcement and recreation.

Ironically, despite the Council’s focus on increasing revenues, Mayor Harper at his first State of the City speech declared the city’s employment figures are improving, housing values are rising and developers are starting to build again. In other words, the future looks bright with the exception of the State Dept. of Finance ordering the City as Successor Agency to reverse $708,958 in transfers made to the Marina Fund since January 1, 2011. The City is challenging this decision but the fiscal year 2013 budget reflects the relinquishment of the funds and a transfer in of $284,222 from the General Fund.

Antioch has also seen a 20% drop in crime during the first three months of 2013. The Police department currently has 87 fulltime police officers, 75 at full duty capacity, 12 not on full time capacity due to industrial injuries, an off duty injury and the field training program. The Dept. is authorized to hire up to 102. Four are in the academy, which are not accounted for in the 87 fulltime positions, leaving the department currently with 11 vacancies.

Additionally, the city is purchasing another 2 police dogs, bringing the total of dogs to 6, one for every shift. (Now if they’d just reinstitute the CAT team!)

On May 28tth the Council approved an increase in most fees charged by various City Departments e.g. fees for building permits, electrical, plumbing, mechanical, other construction, community development, land use, land cartelization and subdivision, engineering review and inspection, signs, regulatory permits, water usage public safety, recreation activities and various misc. fees. (Note: Water and Sewer Fund budget projections include rate increases as proposed in the Master fee Schedule to be presented to Council that evening.)

Now if only the City would make a strong effort to collect existing fees that are delinquent e.g. the Transit Occupancy Tax collected by hotels/motels. Rental Inspection fees, RV/Boat/Trailer permits for grandfathered properties – going after those with vehicles on the driveway/RV parking areas that aren’t grandfathered, Tidelands rent (Humphrey’s is a prime example of uncollected fees), and dog licensing (not proactive) just to name a few.

One Comment to “Watchdog: On proposed Antioch tax increases and City spending”

  1. karl says:

    hello barbara,

    thanks for your article, but i need to add my thoughts….lol
    first of, i agree with you, we, antioch, and the citizen of antioch cannot afford an other sales tax increase. nobody has explored any other way, searched for solution, except a group of antioch residents, called friday morning breakfast club. we stumbled at the fact, that not all businesses in antioch have to have a biz license, and that not all businesses are threaded fairly, and the same. this proposed ballot measure for the nov election will create a steady cash flow of needed money for the city, if the people vote for it.
    what happens here is democracy at his best. we the people have brought forward a major city staff error, to be corrected by vote in november.

    people, investors, large companies who own houses and apartments in antioch, rent them out for profit, will, if the voters decide so, be required to have a biz license and to pay a tax, which will bring a steady flow of about $ 2,6 million a year.
    to me that is very fair, that anybody who conducts a business in antioch is threaded the very same.

    the very same issue was not touched by city staff since the 70. so if one uses my basic math. 2,5 mill a year x 43 years = over $ 100 million NOT collected!!!!!! wow

    there are about 11,000 rental units in antioch. take lets say one rental unit, monthly rent $ 1200 x 12 = $ 14,400 a year, x 11,000 = $ 158 million, and antioch does not get a cent.?

    there are many other issues going along with that ballot initiative.

    where are the tough question why our city did NOT collected those taxes. (and many more)
    who is talking responsibility for it?
    where are the plans from our city council and city manager how to spend the incoming money?
    nobody has said a word, or do they simply have no plan?
    where are the plans how to fight the crime?
    still nothing from harper, rocha and agopian, who run their re-election “though on crime”

    here is another question: what is the connection and involvement of the contra costa county housing, sec 8 leader bruce (don’t know his last name) he shows up at staff meetings and council meetings as a “board member” of the antioch apartment association? how does that works? isn’t that a conflict of interest?

    i know now why antioch has the highest number of sec. 8 recipients. one reason is:
    bruce man issues the vouchers, and then takes them back in his antioch apartments?????????
    how much money is exchanged to cover meeting expenses, ml, insurance, cell phone..or god know what else?
    is bruce man going to board meetings while on the clock with cntra costa county?

    i hope somebody will look into that.

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