July 29, 2008

City Council Votes to Put Three Taxes on November Ballot

The San Leandro City Council voted to go ahead with three ballot measures to stabilize and enhance revenues at its special meeting on Monday, July 28, 2008.

The City Council voted unanimously to place a utility users tax on the November 2008 ballot that would reduce the rate from 6% to 5.7% while broadening the definition of telecommunications and video to include technologies such as voice over internet protocol (VOIP), internet protocol television (IP TV) and private communication services. The City's utility users tax for gas and electricity would remain at 6% and would not be affected by the ballot measure. Although the tax rate would be reduced by 0.3%, the amount of revenue would remain the same because of the broader definition of telecommunications and video. The utility user tax ballot measure requires a simple majority (50% plus one) to be enacted since it is considered a general tax.

The vote to rescind the City's Emergency Communication Access Fee Ordinance and replace it with an equivalent tax that would maintain the same amount of revenue passed with the support of five members the City Council and the opposition of Councilmember Diana Souza and Mayor Tony Santos. Charles Gilcrest provided revised language for the ballot measure that was accepted by the City Council. According to the staff report, "In April of this year the Court of Appeal upheld a trial court decision that the City of Union City's 911 Fee was in fact a special tax and as such was void because it was enacted without a vote of the electorate pursuant to Proposition 218. This case is now being appealed to the California Supreme Court If the case is heard by the Supreme Court and the lower court 's decision is overturned then San Leandro's 911 Fee will not be impacted. However should the case not be heard or the lower courts are upheld then the City will lose this revenue source." The 911 tax ballot measure requires a two-thirds majority to be enacted. If the tax fails to pass, the existing fee will continue to be in effect pending the outcome of Union City litigation.

Councilmember Bill Stephens opposed a police services parcel tax that would raise $2.3 million to maintain a minimum of 94 sworn police officers and sunset after four years. Stephens said that the parcel tax wouldn't pass and it would likely drag down the utility user tax and 911 tax. Councilmember Joyce Starosciak abstained while the other five members of he City Council voted to place the parcel tax on the November 2008 ballot. The parcel tax was reduced from the original amount of $60 per residential parcel to $48 per parcel, which reduced the revenue raised by the parcel tax from $2.6 million to $2.3 million.

The City Council also awarded a contract to Alten Construction Co. to build a Senior Community Center on E. 14th Street. The facility will include an assembly hall, classrooms, computer learning center, exercise room, kitchen, and meeting and staff areas. The center will also serve as the City's emergency operations center during emergencies. There were 12 bidders for the project and Alten Construction was the lowest with a bid of $10,720,000.

The text of the ballot measures is shown below:

Utility User Tax Reduction and Fairness Measure:

"Shall an ordinance be adopted to reduce the City of San Leandro's existing utility users tax from 6% to 5.7% on telecommunications and video (cable-like) services; ensure that users of current and future technologies be treated fairly; and preserve funding for general municipal services such as police, maintenance of and improvements to city streets and sidewalks and graffiti removal?"

911 Tax Measure:

"Shall the City of San Leandro, with no increase in rates, convert its existing 911 Emergency Communication System Access Fee Ordinance into an Emergency Communication System Access Tax, to insure that all future modifications to the tax rate structure require a vote of the people rather than a vote of the council, and to maintain enhanced 911 Emergency Services to San Leandro residents?"

Police Services Parcel Tax Measure:

"Shall the current level of police protection services be maintained at a minimum of 94 sworn police officers by adoption of a parcel tax in an annual amount of $48 for single-family residences, $24 per multi-family/mobile home unit, $12 per thousand square feet for Commercial/Industrial, $10 per thousand square feet for Non-Profit/Places of Worship and $3 per thousand square feet for Unimproved Land, to end after four years?"

Posted by Mike Katz-Lacabe at July 29, 2008 1:06 AM | TrackBack
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