Emeryville voters will be asked to approve two measures at the ballot at Tuesday’s March 3rd primary election. Both measures require a two-thirds “yes” vote to pass.
Measure F would raise Emeryville’s current 9.25% sales tax a quarter percent to 9.5% with the estimated $2 million in revenue to be used for Public Safety and Early Childcare.
Measure K would levy a parcel tax of 12¢ per square foot to generate revenue to support “Teacher Retention & Student Achievement.”
Measure F – Sales Tax Increase
Our council opted to move forward with the measure during a March, 2019 Council discussion. The measure was among a slate of revenue generating proposals but considered favorable in the wake a string of taxes levied on property owners. A sales tax would be paid predominately by non-residents.
“I generally disfavor sales tax measures because they are regressive,” noted Councilmember John Bauters at the May 22, 2019 meeting [3:27:29]. “regressive” forms of taxation take a larger percentage of income from low-income taxpayers than from higher-income taxpayers.
California law limits local governments to a 2% sales tax, collected on top of the statewide rate of 7.25%. Because most of the allowable local tax is often imposed on the county level, individual cities can end up with very little room to impose their own levies.
In order to raise Emeryville’s sales tax beyond its current 9.25%, the city needed to first pass state legislation to allow the rate beyond the sales-tax cap. California Governor Gavin Newsom rejected the city’s request, along with the City of Scotts Valley, questioning their need for “additional tax authority.”
To the members of the California Assembly:
I am returning Assembly Bill 618 without my signature.
The Cities of Emeryville and Scotts Valley have not yet reached the statewide cap of 2 percent, making it unclear why additional tax authority is needed.
The State Legislature preceded to pass AB 723 which confirmed Emeryville’s ability to place the local sales tax measure before the voters.
City looking to supplement Emeryville Child Development Center, Police & Fire
Tuition at the Emeryville Child Development Center (ECDC) has spiked over the past decade and was increased over 20% by our current council in reaction to a 2017 budget shortfall. Emeryville residents get a discount of about 11%. 23% of children who participate in a State program pay a subsidized rate of $17.75 per day (approx. $390 for a typical month).
The measure also promises to increase the EPD’s presence to combat rising crime as well as maintain fire and emergency services. Over half of the city’s budget currently goes toward public safety (Police – 31%, Fire – 20%).
Proponents argue that EPD staff levels have not proportionately kept up with our city’s residential and service populations. Reported crime has increased over 50% since 2013 while the force has grown by only three sworn officers (+5%) in that span.
Meanwhile, Emeryville’s population has increased roughly 10% from an estimated 10,889 in 2013 to its current 12,000+ residents.
The County of Alameda is also looking to raise sales tax to support childcare with its Measure C ballot initiative.
The half a percent for increase is expected to raise an estimated $30 million a year for pediatric health care and an estimated $120 million a year for improving child care workers’ wages and increasing the number of subsidized child care and preschool slots for low-income children.
If Measures C and F both pass, this would collectively increase Emeryville’s sales tax to 10%. Emeryville’s sales tax receipts have been in a slow decline since a peak of close to $8 million dollars in 2016. How the sudden .75% increase will impact receipts is unclear and has not been studied locally. Sales tax does not apply to groceries or prescriptions.
Additional Information on the city’s website. NBC Bay Area did a video segment outlining the measure below.
Measure K – Parcel Tax
The Emery Unified School District is asking voters to approve additional funding to support the district through a parcel tax. The proposed 12¢ per square foot tax would last 9 years and qualified seniors would be provided an exemption. For a typical 1,250 square feet home, that translates to about $150 a year.
The entire list of benefits Measure K is intended to provide:
- Provide stable local funding to recruit and retain excellent teachers
- Expand after-school programs for all ages
- Continue to improve Emery USD’s academic performance and graduation rates
Superintendent Quiauna Scott punctuated the need to pay teachers more to retain them and move the district forward. “Over the past four years, Emery USD experienced high attrition rates among teachers. Two of the main factors for teachers leaving the District were due to wages and the high cost of living in the Bay Area.”
Emery School Board President Brynnda Collins cited the recent successes of EUSD students and the need to build on the momentum the district has achieved. “Last year Emery graduated 100% of our seniors! A feat shared by only 55 other schools in California. We are on the AP District Honor Roll this year for our accomplishments with AP students and we had the highest gain in Alameda County on the English Language Arts assessment tests.”
The measure is endorsed by The Emery Teachers Association as well as the Alameda County Democratic Party. The East Bay Times Editorial Board has come out in opposition to it and a collection of R.U.L.E. steering committee members wrote the argument against it.
“If you walk the halls, which I am quite sure the authors of our opposition have not, you will see a community that is welcoming, empowering, safe and accepting,” added Collins in support.
Read The Measure K Quick Facts on The Emery Unified School District Website.