VALLEJO – Claiming that the majority of the Vallejo City Council spends taxes “irresponsibly,” councilmember Cristina Arriola has signed her name to the formal argument opposed to the city’s proposed seven-eighths-cent sales tax increase that will go before the voters this fall.
Friday was the deadline to submit arguments in favor or against tax measures within Solano County. Arriola was joined by other prominent local residents recommending voters reject the seven-eighths-cent sales tax increase, including former Vallejo Planning Commissioner Robert Schussel, downtown business owner Barbara Conrad, Surveillance Advisory Board member Andrea Sorce, and local attorney and Solano County Planning Commissioner Paula Bauer.
“The city spends carelessly and wants us to pay their bill,” the argument reads, which also took a swipe at City Manager Mike Malone, stating that the city council majority “hired [an] inexperienced replacement for top dollar.”
Malone was appointed the permanent city manager in April after being tapped to serve as interim city manager starting in October 2021. The vote wasn’t unanimous as Arriola voted against the appointment while councilmembers Katy Miessner and Hakeem Brown were absent. Malone replaced interim City Manager Anne Cardwell, who held the position for a few months before leaving to take a job with the city of Napa.
The sales tax ballot argument chastised the council majority for approving a $577,536 resignation and separation agreement between the city of Vallejo and Nyhoff in June 2021. Vallejo Mayor Robert McConnell was the only councilmember to vote against Nyhoff’s severance.
Rebuttals to the arguments are due on Tuesday.
Conversely, five prominent leaders signed the argument supporting Measure P, which city officials say will be used to address blight, illegal dumping, homelessness, roads, provide fire and police protection, and keep public spaces clean. The city is projecting the increase will generate $18 million annually.
Top supporters included former Vallejo Mayor Tony Intintoli, Solano County Planning Commissioner Loretta Gaddies, Josette Lacey, who serves as aide to Solano County Supervisor Erin Hannigan, Vallejo Chamber of Commerce board member Laura Pierce, and David Cates, former president of the Vallejo Heights Neighborhood Association.
Supporters say that Measure P will help the city fix the poor condition of its roads.
“They will only get more dangerous, damage more cars, endanger more children on the way to school, and get more expensive to fix - we need Measure P now,” the argument states.
Supporters also point out that, if approved, the measure will require creation of an oversight body to ensure the funding is spent on the priorities.
It may be an uphill climb for supporters of the measure. The city released the results of a survey earlier this year which found about 60% of residents had an unfavorable opinion of the city council, while 67% had an unfavorable opinion of the city government overall.
Two years ago residents narrowly rejected a three-quarter-cent sales tax increase to maintain fire and police protection, keep public spaces safe, and support local businesses.
This year, city hall originally sought a special tax that would have required the proceeds to address infrastructure needs but those plans were scrapped due to the city’s poor reputation among its own residents. A special tax requires a supermajority of 67% to pass, while Measure P, a general transaction and use tax, only requires a simple majority of 50% plus 1 to pass and will be added to the city’s general fund.
Those who wrote the argument against the tax measure also pointed to the council approving the purchase of a home for $800,000 next to the Fleming Hill Water Treatment Plant last November as an example of wasteful spending. City officials said the purchase was done to secure the plant from unspecified future attacks.
McConnell and Arriola voted against the purchase.
The tax measure’s detractors also highlighted that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) asked for the city to pay back $2.6 million in federal grant funding associated with the 75-unit permanent supportive housing project on Sacramento Street. City officials said that “a series of administrative errors from 2019 to 2021” led to HUD asking for the money back.
A separate group of Vallejo residents have organized an opposition campaign against Measure P calling the proposed sales tax “regressive” and likely to hurt the poorer members of the community.
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THE VALLEJO SUN NEWSLETTER
Investigative reporting, regular updates, events and more
- Cristina Arriola
- Election 2022
- Measure P
- Vote No on Measure P Vallejo 2022
- Robert Schussel
- Andrea Sorce
- Paula Bauer
- Barbara Conrad
- Mike Malone
- Katy Miessner
- Hakeem Brown
- Anne Cardwell
- Greg Nyhoff
- Tony Intintoli
- Loretta Gaddies
- Josette Lacey
- Erin Hannigan
- Laura Pierce
- David Cates
John Glidden worked as a journalist covering the city of Vallejo for more than 10 years. He left journalism in 2023 and currently works in the office of Solano County Supervisor Monica Brown.
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