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Smart Voter
Sonoma County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Measure P
Sales Tax
City of Santa Rosa

Majority Approval Required

Pass: 30,119 / 57.0% Yes votes ...... 22,759 / 43.0% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Jan 6 3:01pm, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (64/64)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

THE CITY OF SANTA ROSA VITAL CITY SERVICES MEASURE. To help maintain essential City services including police and fire protection; violent and gang-crime prevention; pedestrian safety; property and nuisancerelated crime prevention; street paving and pothole repair; park safety; and recreation and youth programs, shall the City of Santa Rosa enact a one-quarter cent sales tax for eight years, with all revenue staying in the City and subject to annual, independent audits and public expenditure reports?

Impartial Analysis from City Attorney
Measure P, if approved by a majority vote of the City's voters would enact a one quarter of one percent (0.25%) increase to the "Transaction and Use Tax" (commonly referred to as "sales tax") on each dollar of taxable sales of goods within the City of Santa Rosa and on storage, use or consumption in the City of Santa Rosa of goods purchased from a retailer collected at the same time and in the same manner as other sales tax.

The tax is considered a general tax under state law. As a result, if approved, the revenues from the tax would be placed in the City's general fund and may be used for general City operations and programs such as police and fire services, street maintenance, park and recreational programs including gang prevention and any other governmental functions and services.

The tax would continue for a period of eight (8) years from the date of commencement. Any extension to the duration of the proposed tax beyond eight (8) years would require action by the City Council and a new vote of the public.

Expenditure of the funds would be subject to an annual independent financial audit. A "yes" vote on Measure P would increase the sales tax rate in the City of Santa Rosa from the current nine and one quarter percent (9.25%) to nine and one-half percent (9.50%).

The proposed tax is authorized by California Revenue and Taxation Code Section
7285.9 subject to approval by two-thirds of the City Council and a Majority of the voters voting in an election on the tax. On July 27, 2010 the Council of the City of Santa Rosa unanimously approved the proposed measure. A full copy of the text of the ordinance is printed in these ballot materials.

s/ Caroline L. Fowler City Attorney

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Arguments For Measure P Arguments Against Measure P
The City of Santa Rosa faces its most serious fiscal crisis due to the severe recession that has devastated our state and national economies. Since 2007/08, the City's general fund budget has been slashed by $21.9 million, or 16.8%. 174 positions, or 20% of the City's employees, have been eliminated, including 14 police officer and 9 firefighter positions. Park maintenance staff has been reduced 70% and street maintenance staff by 25%.

The reduction in city services has been dramatic. One fire station is closed each day. One third of the City's streetlights have been turned off. Our parks are turning brown, and potholes go unfilled. Gang prevention has been reduced, recreation programs decreased, homeless services cut back. But unfortunately, theworst is yet to come.

City budget woes are expected to worsen by millions more, and Sacramento is poised to take even more money from local governments. The grim reality is that more cuts will be made to the most basic of City services-- including brownouts of up to 3 more fire stations and the elimination of up to 18 more police officers. Some parks will be closed, and park user fees will be implemented. On the chopping block may be the Ridgway and Finley Swim Centers, the Senior Center and our Homeless Center.

By voting for a temporary 1/4 cent sales tax, the City of Santa Rosa can help to prevent these draconian cuts and restore badly needed services. For an additional tax of just 25 cents on every $100 we spend in Santa Rosa for the next eight years, Measure P will save our City's most vital services. The funds will only be used for the most important general fund services, and the politicians in Sacramento can't take it away. Please vote Yes on Measure P.

s/ Jane Bender Former Mayor/Councilmember
s/ Susan Gorin Mayor, City of Santa Rosa
s/ Patricia Amedeo Oakmont Senior Neighborhood Advocate
s/ Michael D. Senneff Attorney, Community Leader
s/ Jennifer Schwinn Elementary Principal & Family Advocate

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Santa Rosa's supporters of Measure P just don't get it. This falls election is all about the economy. It is about the rising pension costs that is a major factor in layoffs, service cuts, tax and fee increases. Unless this problem is addressed, the City will be seeking additional taxes to pay for employee benefits.

The proponents of this tax increase are using scare tactics to convince you to vote for more taxes and more government spending. They use phrases such as "the worst is yet to come", "the grim reality is that more cuts will be made to most basic City services".

All of us have been affected by this recession, but we don't go to our bosses and say we demand more money. We are fortunate to have our jobs. The taxpayers have tighten their belts and government should do the same.

The City is saying this a temporary tax. When was the last time government really instituted a temporary tax?

The City has turned away retail development that would have brought much needed jobs and sales tax revenue to help with the City's deficit. Instead, they want the taxpayer to bail them out once again.

The City indicates the increased sales tax money will be used primarily for public safety, but not long ago the voters approved Measure O a sales tax increase to fund pubic safety.

When is enough, enough. Vote no on Measure P and force the City to live within its means.

s/ Jack Atkin, President
s/ Fred Levin, Executive Director

Until Santa Rosa resolves the looming issue of retiree pension costs they have not earned the right to ask taxpayers for an increase in sales tax rate. The City has made cuts in the budget to respond to the pressures that have resulted from our current economic recession. We applaud them for doing that without asking the tax payers for more money at a time when most taxpayers are also suffering from financial pressures.

Ideally we would hope that the City would find a way to live within its present budget without pulling more from taxpayers' pockets to fill City coffers. In any event, before asking for a tax increase the City must seriously address and make substantial progress toward resolving the biggest problem on the agenda, the exploding cost of funding excessive promises to retired employees. Failure to address this as the highest priority is equivalent to nibbling around the edges of the problem, but never getting to the real issue.

Taxpayers must force the City to address the major problem of inflated pension costs by keeping the pressure on. The greatest fear is that if a tax increase passes, the City will continue to push the pension cost issue off into the future, only making it worse.

To be sure there are many reasons to oppose the current sales tax increase. Including the fact in 2004 voters passed Measure O, a sales tax increase that was supposed to solve their public safety problems. Now the City is asking for another quarter cent primarily for public safety.

The City simply has not made the case for increasing the sales tax. We recommend you vote no on Measure P.

s/ Jack Atkin, President
s/ Fred Levin, Executive Director

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Contrary to the opponents' argument, the City Council is seriously and aggressively addressing the costs of employee compensation and benefits.

The City has already realized more than $1,401,000 in savings from employee concessions during fiscal years 2009 and 2010. As part of the current fiscal year, additional employee concessions of approximately $2,512,000 are being negotiated with the various labor groups and management. These concessions will result in a three-year savings to the City of more than $3,913,000, of which $2,771,000 applies to the General Fund.

In addition, the City Council is actively pursuing reduced retirement pension benefits by providing new non-public safety employees a lower pension benefit (establishing a "two-tier system"). State law forbids the reduction of retirement benefits for its current employees and retirees.

Once fully implemented, the two-tier system will reduce the City's future non-public safety employee pension costs, but the savings will not be fully realized for several years --- a prime reason why a short-term sales tax is necessary.

Without additional revenue for a limited time, additional budget reductions will have to be initiated. The next round of budget cuts will reduce and/or eliminate vital basic services provided by the City of Santa Rosa.

The question is: "Is it important to you to maintain core services? If so, is it worth 25 cents on every $100 you spend until the economy improves and pension reduction plans take effect?" We believe it is.

Vote Yes on Measure P.

s/ Steve Rabinowitsh Former Councilmember
s/ William H. Knight Former Mayor & Councilmember
s/ Tracy L. Weitzenberg Parent/Youth Advocate
s/ Janet Condron Former Mayor & Councilmember
s/ Donna Burch Aquatic Advisory Committee

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Created: January 6, 2011 15:01 PST
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