NEWARK, California: Members of the City Council have passed a resolution recently that will place a measure on the ballot concerning a proposed 3.9 percent utility tax increase that would help the recently under-funded city. If approved, the tax would be charged beginning this January and would last for about twenty years. Some households and businesses would be exempt from the increase, such as government agencies and low-income seniors. Major cuts have already been made totaling to $1.5 million of their $38 million budget, most of which have been directed towards police services. If the council's proposal is not passed, City Manager John Becker has said that "Another round of cuts - estimated to be about $3.5 million - will have to be made later this year if the city cannot find a new revenue source."
Opposition has come in varied forms. Most residential disapproval stems from displeasure with the wording of the resolution as well as its duration. One resident who spoke out at a council meeting open to the public, Margaret Lewis, said she objected to the 20-year period, saying that the city should have at least included it on the ballot wording: "If you want to be upfront, it should be in there. I think Newark residents need to know." Some council members, including Al Huezo and Luis Freitas, have said that they support an even higher percentage tax, noting that it is estimated it would raise nearly $1.5 million more dollars than the current suggestion.
On August 5, however, the Newark City Council voted to reduce the length of duration of the tax from twenty years to six years. For a more detailed wiki on this topic, visit Newark Utility Users Tax, 2009 from this site. []