, August 09, 2022

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Vallejo seeking arguments for or against sales tax measure

  •   3 min reads
Vallejo seeking arguments for or against sales tax measure
Vallejo City Hall.

VALLEJO – The city of Vallejo is seeking written arguments for or against a seven-eighths-cent sales tax measure to be determined by  city voters this November, which will be known as Measure P.

Measure P is general transaction and use tax, which if passed, is estimated to generate $18 million annually for the city’s coffers. A divided Vallejo City Council voted on July 12 to put the measure on the November ballot as officials seek additional revenue to address numerous issues in the city, including homelessness, blight, illegal dumping, fix city roads, provide fire and police protection while also “keeping public space healthy/safe/clean.”

Mayor Robert McConnell and Councilmember Cristina Arriola, District 6, voted against placing the sales tax increase on the ballot.

City Clerk Dawn Abrahamson confirmed that campaign committees advocating or opposing the  measure had not been opened as of Thursday night.

The city clerk’s office is accepting primary arguments for or against the measure from voters. The arguments cannot exceed 300 words and are due before 5 p.m. on Aug. 19.

If more than one argument is submitted, preference will be given first to arguments submitted by members of the Vallejo City Council, followed by individual voters or bona fide associations of citizens, or combination of voters and associations.

“Each ballot argument must be accompanied by the printed name(s) and signature(s) of the person or persons submitting it or, if submitted on behalf of an organization, the name of the organization and the printed name and signature of at least one of its principal officers,” according to the state election code.

The general public can also file rebuttals to the primary arguments. The deadline to file rebuttal arguments is 5 p.m., on Aug. 23.

At least two councilmembers said during the same July 12 meeting that they were interested in filing ballot arguments. District 3 Councilmember Mina Loera-Diaz volunteered to write a primary argument in favor of the measure while Councilmember Katy Miessner, at large, offered to write the rebuttal argument to any argument opposing the tax measure.

City hall originally sought a special tax, but those plans were stopped when a polling firm hired to survey 500 residents determined that such a tax measure was likely to fail. The poll found that about 60% of residents had an unfavorable opinion of the city council, while 67% said they had an unfavorable opinion of the city government overall.

To pass, a special tax would require 66% of voters to approve it. The council instead moved forward with a general sales tax proposition which requires only a simple majority to pass.

This will be the city’s second recent attempt to generate more revenue through a sales tax increase. Vallejo voters barely rejected Measure G, a similar general sales tax measure on the ballot during the November 2020 election.

Solano County is placing its own sales tax increase on the November ballot to pay for wildfire protection. The county board of supervisors voted this week to place the one-eighth cent general sales tax increase on the ballot.

Vallejo’s neighbor to the east, the city of Benicia, has also placed a three-quarter-cent increase on the November ballot.

Called Measure R, Benicia anticipates the new sales tax rate would generate $5 million more annually and would support general services “repairing, paving and maintaining streets, fixing potholes, improving safe routes to schools and fixing aging storm drains.”

The Benicia City Council also placed a measure on the ballot to extend the duration of an Urban Growth Boundary which is expected to sunset on Dec. 31, 2023.

Benicia voters first approved the 20-year plan in November 2003 to prevent urban sprawl, and preserve agricultural land and open space in the city. Measure K would allow the Urban Growth Boundary to remain in place until Dec. 31, 2043.  

“The Benicia Urban Growth Boundary ("UGB") encouraged a cohesive pattern of urbanization, promoted efficient and orderly growth patterns, supported stability and certainty in long term planning,” the draft ordinance states.  

Solano County voter guides are expected to be mailed out starting Sept. 29 with vote-by-mail ballots being delivered between Sept. 20 and Oct. 10.

The election is Nov. 8.

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