It took the Antioch City Council only 15 minutes on Thursday to unanimously approve a draft one-cent sales tax measure that has been plagued with mishaps for the past two weeks.
On Tuesday, the council voted 3-2 to add a 20-year expiration date and oversight committee requirement to its one-cent sales tax ballot measure. But, while preparing the paperwork to send to the Contra Costa County Elections Division, a deputy city clerk discovered that the ordinance needed a supermajority — or at least four votes to pass.
Interim Deputy City Attorney Derek Cole apologized for that error, saying it was his mistake for not properly advising the council that a super majority was needed.
The new proposal, like Measure C, is a general tax, which requires only a simple majority of voters to pass. Had it been a specific tax, it would require a two-thirds majority.
After approving the measure on July 24, the council was forced to tweak the ballot language because it was over the 75-word limit, and then again to rescind and replace the ordinance because a section on the proposed transaction tax increase was mistakenly omitted, and finally to insert the 20-year sunset clause and oversight committee requirement.
A couple of residents were still not happy with the proposed tax, though.
“I cannot believe it was initiated to begin with,” resident Fed Hoskins said. “It’s a situation of what do we do to get this approved, and that is what this is all about. How do we jam down the citizens’ throats another half-percent increase?”
Hoskins said he opposed the earlier Measure C half-cent sales tax and was against a 20-year sunset clause on the new one.
“This is just nothing but an extension of taxes,” he said. “I have never seen an objective process or any new progress or proposals for the advancement of this city for new revenues from this council, not a single thing. … So what happens is, as a council, you look at ways of taxing us, that’s all; tax, tax, tax.”
Resident Tim McCall, however, urged all the council members to get behind the measure.
“This does not unite Antioch, this is dividing Antioch. What we need to do is we need to get this passed and we need to unite Antioch,” he said. “We will just need to campaign a little harder to get the word out on how this money will be spent and how it will improve the city.”
City officials estimate it will bring in $14 million in tax revenue to the general fund, with monies expected to be used to maintain and improve police and code enforcement, restore after-school youth programs and maintain youth anti-violence and gang-prevention programs, improve water quality and more.
Mayor Pro Tem Lamar Thorpe, who along with Councilwoman Monica Wilson, crafted the measure but later voted against it, citing their disapproval of a 20-year sunset, said they were now ready to support it on this fourth special meeting on the matter.
“We both agree that our votes the last time were symbolic in that we were very adamant about protecting the ballot language and making sure that we had a strong possibility of passing this ballot measure,” Thorpe said. “The very next day (after the vote), we were right back at it again, figuring out how we could push this ballot measure forward. Today we are prepared to continue on the direction that the council has asked.”
Under the new proposal, the new one-cent sale tax would replace the current Measure C half-cent tax, starting April 2019, and would sunset on March 31, 2039. Antioch’s total combined sales tax, including state and county taxes, would rise to 9.25 percent.
Pending approval by county elections officials on Friday, the measure will go before voters on Nov. 6.
To see the staff report, go to http://www.ci.antioch.ca.us/CityGov/agendas/CityCouncil/2018/agendas/080718/080718.pdf