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City of Stockton Sales Tax Increase and Associated Advisory Vote, Measures A and B (November 2013)

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A City of Stockton Sales Tax Increase and an Associated Advisory Vote, Measures A and B, ballot questions were on the November 5, 2013, election ballot for voters in the city of Stockton in San Joaquin County, which is in California. They were both approved.

Measure A authorized a tax that was designed to bring revenue into the general fund and was not earmarked for a particular purpose, but was made available to the city council to be spent on any legal city expenses. This allowed measure A to be approved by a simple majority instead of requiring a 2/3rds supermajority vote for approval, as with a sales tax increase reserved for a certain purpose. Although the tax does expire in ten years, according to the City Attorney's impartial analysis, the city council could extend the tax if it holds "two publicly noticed meetings at least 14 days apart" and adopts "findings based on evidence that the revenues provided by the tax continue to be necessary and the total compensation paid to City employees is not excessive when compared to other similarly situated public-sector employers."[1][2]

The sales tax in Stockton was raised from 8.25% to 9% by Measure A.

The expected revenue from the Measure A tax increase was estimated at $28 million per year.[3]

Measure B had no binding, legislative power but, instead, was designed to gauge the public opinion on how Measure A funds should be spent. Namely, it asked if voters wanted 65% of Measure A funds to be spent only on law enforcement services, crime prevention and related city expenses.[1]

Election results

Measure A
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 14,939 51.86%
No13,86948.14%
Measure B
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 16,776 59.27%
No11,53040.73%
These final, certified results are from the San Joaquin County elections office.

Text of measure

Measure A

The question on the ballot:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

To pay for law enforcement and crime prevention services such as those described in Stockton’s Marshall Plan on

Crime, to help end the bankruptcy and restore other City services; and provided it shall sunset in ten years or when economic recovery occurs, a Citizen’s Oversight Committee reports on the use of proceeds, and independent audits are done annually; shall Ordinance 2013-07-09-1601 be adopted to impose a 3/4-cent transaction and use (sales) tax?[1]

Measure B

The question on the ballot:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

If Measure A is approved by the voters, shall (i) 65% of its proceeds be used only to pay for law enforcement and

crime prevention services in the City such as those described in the City’s Marshall Plan on Crime and (ii) 35% of its proceeds be used only to pay for the City’s efforts to end the bankruptcy and for services to residents, businesses, and property owners?[1]

Support

SecureStockton.png

Secure Stockton was leading the campaign in support of Measures A and B.[4]

Supporters

Supporters for Measures A and B, as well as their arguments, were the same.[3]

Officials

  • Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva (R)
  • Councilmember Elbert H. Holman, Jr. (D), District 1
  • Councilmember Katherine M. Miller (I), District 2
  • Vice Mayor Paul Canepa (R), District 3
  • Councilmember Moses Zapien (D), District 4
  • Councilmember Dyane Burgos (D), District 5
  • Councilmember Michael D. Tubbs (D), District 6

Organizations

  • League of Women Voters of San Joaquin County[5]
  • Stockton City Employees’ Association[6]
  • Business Council of San Joaquin[7]
  • Greater Stockton Chamber of Commerce[8]

Individuals

  • Jane Butterfield, CEO of Community Bank of San Joaquin
  • Gene Gini, CEO of Collins Electric
  • Jose Rodriguez, CEO Director of El Concilio

Arguments

Proponents of Measures A and B had outlined their arguments in the League of Women Voters’ Smart Voter Guide, which said:[9]

  • Two of the biggest problems facing the city are bankruptcy and crime. The sales tax increase will address both problems, a bankruptcy exit plan and the new “Marshall Plan on Crime.”
  • A Citizens Oversight Committee will review all budgets and expenses to ensure that public money is used appropriately.
  • “A YES vote means you want Stockton to exit bankruptcy, add more police officers, prevent crime, and restore our City for a sustainable future.”
  • Attempting to rebuttal opponents, proponents wrote, “The arguments against Measure A are full of deception, errors and scare tactics. Measure A is about Stockton taking care of itself, because no one else is going to do it... Without Measure A, we cannot improve public safety and end bankruptcy, and crushing additional public service reductions will be required to balance future budgets.”
  • Further attempting to rebuttal, proponents said, "Measure A and B opponents offer no solutions. They rely on fear, unfounded mistrust and rehashing mistakes made by previous City Councils. They are against moving Stockton forward."

Secure Stockton, the campaign organization advocating for Measures A and B, listed the following supporting reasons:[4]

  • “MAKE OUR STREETS SAFER: The new revenue would go to create safer neighborhoods and reduce crime by adding 120 police officers on the streets of Stockton, beefing up crime prevention programs and improving Stockton’s 9-1-1 emergency services.”
  • “RESTORE PUBLIC TRUST AND ACCCOUNTABILITY: Passing the Measure will enhance public confidence in local government by requiring the City to be more transparent. Additional oversight will be conducted by an independent Citizen Oversight Committee.”
  • “RESOLVE OUR BANKRUPTCY SOONER: Municipal Bankruptcy (Chapter 9) does not eliminate the City’s debt. Rather, it will restructure those debts in a way that buys time for our economy and revenues to grow, enabling the City to pay off the debt in the most equitable manner possible.”
  • “AVOID ADDITIONAL CUTS: Without new revenues generated by Measures A and B, City services that were recently eliminated cannot be restored and additional cuts will be necessary.”
  • “NO OTHER OPTION: Stockton residents have no other option but to end this financial mess and put Stockton on the path to recovery. Even opponents to Measure A have no alternative plan. There’s no specifics on how to provide more resources for public safety (the Marshall Plan) and guide Stockton’s return to financial stability.”

The Stockton City Employees’ Association issued a statement in support of Measures A and B:[6]

  • "Additional cuts to city services are dangerous and unacceptable. The failure of Measure A and B will need to be mitigated by cutting services needed in order for the City of Stockton to function."
  • "Stockton needs libraries and recreational activities. These programs provide a return on investment that we cannot afford to lose. Failure of Measure A and B will shut down these important programs."

Opposition

Opponents

Opponents for Measures A and B, as well as their arguments, were the same.[3]

Organizations

  • San Joaquin County Taxpayers Association

Individuals

  • Dean Andal, President of Andal Communications
  • Dale Fritchen, Child Protective Services
  • Ted Bestolarides, Certified Public Accountant

Arguments

Opponents of Measures A and B had outlined their arguments in the League of Women Voters’ Voter Guide, in which they argued that:[9]

  • The sales tax increase is a “blank check” to the Stockton City Council. Stockton will have the highest sales tax rate in California. The increase will never expire and will never again require voter approval.
  • Most of the revenue will be spent on pension costs, not police officers.
  • Stockton’s previous tax increases for police officers have not resulted in more police officers. Voters “were betrayed.” There is no reason to believe this time will be any different.
  • Attempting a rebuttal against proponents, opponents wrote, “City Hall is addicted to spending. Like the drug abuser looking for the next fix, this tax simply feeds the addiction. City bureaucrats rushed Measure A to a Special Election, wasting nearly $1 million dollars on election costs when there are two general elections next year. Shameful.”

Analysis

Measure A

Stockton City Attorney John M. Luebberke wrote the following analysis of Measure A:[9]

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

The California Constitution requires the voters to approve a general tax by a majority vote. The Stockton City Council has placed a general tax, designated as Measure "A" on the November 5, 2013, election ballot asking voters to approve this tax by adopting an ordinance that would impose a three-quarter cent (0.75%) retail transaction and use (sales) tax to be applied throughout the City. A majority of the voters must approve the measure before the sales tax can be imposed.

The proposed transactions and use (sales) tax is a general tax because the City can use the tax revenue for any legal municipal purpose. As explained in the ballot question, the City may use the tax revenue for public safety services (including "Stockton's Marshall Plan on Crime"), parks maintenance, library services, roadway and street-tree maintenance, and other governmental purposes, including payment of lawful debts.

If adopted, the City Council or the voters may subsequently reduce or repeal the tax. Also, the tax would expire by its own terms in ten years, unless extended by the City Council. To extend the tax beyond the initial ten-year term, the City Council would be required to hold two publicly noticed meetings at least 14 days apart and adopt findings based on evidence that the revenues provided by the taxes continue to be necessary and the total compensation paid to City employees is not excessive when compared to other similarly situated public-sector employers.

The tax would also be subject to potential review, and the City Council could reduce or eliminate the tax based upon the City's economic recovery.

The expenditure of the tax revenue generated would be subject to the oversight of a committee of citizens appointed by the City Council. This committee would meet at least annually, provide recommendations and a report to the City Council regarding the expenditure of the tax proceeds, and provide oversight regarding any findings the City Council may make in furtherance of any extension of the term of the tax and the City's economic recovery.

The tax revenue and its expenditure would be audited annually by an independent accounting firm. The audit report would then be posted on the City's website and made available to the public and discussed at a meeting of the City Council that is open to the public.

Measure B

Stockton City Attorney John M. Luebberke wrote the following analysis of Measure B:[9]

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

The Stockton City Council has placed Measure "B" on the November 5, 2013, general election ballot asking voters to consider a non-binding, advisory measure concerning the use of revenues that may arise from the voters' approval of a new transactions and use (sales) tax being presented to the City's voters on this same ballot as Measure "A."

Under state law the City Council may place an advisory measure on the ballot in order to receive general voter opinion on an issue. The results of this advisory vote are not controlling on the City, but may prove helpful in communicating the will of the voters to the City Council when making decisions concerning how funds from Measure A will be spent.

Measure "B"provides an opportunity for the voters to offer their opinion regarding the use of revenues that may arise from the approval of the new transactions and use (sales) tax being presented to the City's electorate on this same ballot as Measure "A." A "Yes" vote expresses an opinion supporting the uses of the tax proceeds proposed in the ballot question for Measure "B," which are as follows: 65% of the proceeds would be used only to pay for law enforcement and crime prevention services in the City such as those described in the City's Marshall Plan on Crime and 35% of the proceeds would be used only to pay for the City's efforts to end the bankruptcy and for services to residents, businesses, and property owners. A "No" vote may be viewed as expressing an opinion against the uses of the revenue that have been proposed or as a neutral opinion, neither in favor of, nor in opposition to, the uses proposed.

Path to the ballot

The Stockton City Council and mayor voted unanimously, 7 to 0, on July 9, 2013, to put the measures on the ballot.[10]

See also

External links

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References