ANTIOCH (CBS SF) — Voters appear to have overwhelmingly approved a half-cent sales tax that is expected to bring in more than $4.3 million annually and help Antioch out of its current financial crisis, according to unofficial election results.
Measure C, which city leaders and public safety advocates have touted as a much-needed revenue source that will provide for about 22 new police officers and several new code enforcement employees to fight soaring rates of crime and blight, has been approved by 67.9 percent of voters, according to unofficial results.
The measure requires majority approval to pass.
City council members have characterized the seven-year sales tax increase as a temporary fix for the city’s dire fiscal circumstances; property revenue losses in recent years have cost the city some $13 million per year, according to city officials.
The tax will add an extra half-cent to each dollar, or about a nickel for every $10 spent in the city. That will put the city’s sales tax at 9 cents per dollar, same as neighboring cities Pittsburg, Concord, Richmond and Pinole.
The city council, which voted unanimously in June to put Measure C on the ballot, has pledged to devote the funding to beefing up its police force—which has shed nearly 40 sworn officers since the recession hit—and its code enforcement department, which has cut all but three staff members.
Leading up to Tuesday’s election, the sales tax measure received solid support from members of the Antioch Police Officers’ Association, the Antioch Unified School District, and a group of concerned community members known as Take Back Antioch.
It was staunchly opposed by former Antioch City Councilman Ralph Hernandez, who warned that there is no guarantee the sales tax funding will be used for police and code enforcement.
Hernandez has also said that the city council should focus on reigning in costly pension plans and other major expenditures rather than imposing a new tax on voters.
Roughly 52 percent of Antioch voters rejected a similar sales tax measure in 2010.
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