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Oakland Voters May Decide On Proposed Taxes To Bridge Budget Gap

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Oakland Mayor Jean Quan

Oakland Mayor Jean Quan (AP)

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OAKLAND (KCBS) – With a $46 million budget deficit looming, Oakland city leaders gathered for an emergency meeting Monday evening to figure out what to do about it.

Despite voter rejection in the past, Oakland Mayor Jean Quan suggested she now had the support for two new proposed city taxes. She also warned that this was the only way to dig the city out of its massive deficit.

KCBS’ Chris Filippi Reports:

Quan is proposing a five-year $80 parcel tax and a $1.99 phone tax. She said those two taxes would raise about $11 million.

“I think people get that the recession is really bad, and the city has not a lot of good options,” she said.

California Gov. Jerry Brown has also recently been pressing for a special election this June, which would ask voters to consider the extension of existing state taxes.

She recently told reporters that a poll indicated there was support for her proposal.
“What the poll did say is that people were willing, mostly because the city is moving forward and they don’t want that progress to stop. That was the most convincing argument,” she recounted recently.

Critics argue its unlikely voters will approve new taxes, particularly the parcel tax, which needs a two-thirds vote to pass.

It was not clear what sort of support Oakland councilmembers would offer, though some have suggested they were skeptical and pointed out that putting the proposals on the ballot would cost Oakland upwards of $800,000. Still, they acknowledged that Oakland was in a bit of a budgetary hole and required some sort of a fix.

“Even if we were to raise taxes, it has to come with some other proposals of real structural changes,” said Councilmember Ignacio De La Fuente.

In June, Oakland voters may also be asked to cap increases in police officers’ and firefighters’ pensions.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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