Watchdog responds to Jordan’s call for Charter City in Antioch

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

Man prefers to believe what he prefers to be true.” – Sir Francis Bacon

I have been criticized by Realtor Mark Jordan for my article entitled General Law Cities vs. Charter Cities, which I wrote after he asked the city where they would find money to deal with under funded retirement accounts. He suggested the solution was to convert the city into a charter city and significantly increase the transfer fees on real property, which seemed to draw a favorable response from Mayor Harper and Council Member Tiscareno.

Let me respond by explaining a few things:

A transfer tax is a tax on the passing of title to property from one person (or entity) to another, typically imposed when there is a legal requirement for registration of the transfer of real estate, shares or bond. In the U.S. the term transfer tax also refers to estate tax and gift tax. In California only charter cities may impose a real property transfer tax, in addition to the current one, although both general law and charter cities have the power to tax. Currently the property transfer tax is limited to $1.10 per $1,000 with it split 50/50 between the county and city. If Antioch were to become a charter city and increase its property transfer tax the county would get the full $1.10 per $1,000 and the city would keep the amount it sets above $1.10. The amount of revenue received, of course, depends on how many existing and new homes are sold and resold.

I think it’s a bad idea for many reasons. For starters, California residents are overtaxed and over regulated and Antioch residents are feeling the burden from two tax measures: Measure C, the half-cent sales tax increase which was touted by the Mayor to add 22 more police officers to the force and passed by 68.09% of the 11,175 voters who turned out (net zero additional cops, due to attrition) and Measure O, the business license tax which passed with 51.62% of the vote, with 16,926 of the city’s approximately 45,000 registered voters turning out.

On top of that, we’re paying for two new school bond measures., all of this happening during an economic downturn which I attribute again to crushing taxes, over regulation and incompetent legislators. It was the state that was responsible for the under funding of employee retirements accounts, the cities just followed their example. NOTE: Governor Brown recently released a 12-point pension reform plan which will eliminate the opportunity to purchase additional retirement service credits, prohibit pension holidays, prohibit employers from making employee pension contributions, prohibit retroactive pension increases, prohibit pension spiking, impose pension benefit cap, improve retirement board governance, and limit post retirement public employment.

Other reasons I dislike the charter city idea:

Charter cities aren’t bound by the election code and can set their own criteria for city officers, term limits and council members’ salaries, can permit the financing of election campaigns, aren’t required to have competitive bidding for public works contracts over $5,000, aren’t required to pay prevailing wages under state law for local public works funded by local funds, and charter city zoning orders are not required to be consistent with the general plan unless the city adopts a consistence requirement by charter or ordinance.

Last, but not least, is the fact that general law cities are governed by a city council of five members but charter cities can provide for any form of government including the “strong mayor” and city manager forms. This could be disastrous. We’re having trouble enough reining in Mayor Wade Harper.

One Comment to “Watchdog responds to Jordan’s call for Charter City in Antioch”

  1. Julio says:

    General Law cities are governed by a city council of 5 people. Exactly why I want the city to stay that way.

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