ANTIOCH -- Voters here may soon be asked if they are willing to pay to boost the city's short-staffed police department. But before posing that question, Antioch leaders want to have a firm grasp on the facts.
The City Council asked Tuesday night for more information about three possible ways to increase revenue: a sales tax, a property tax or a tax on certain businesses, namely landlords.
The council also requested some sort of residential poll be conducted.
"Public opinion is important. We want to have something that's successful," Councilman Tony Tiscareno said, noting that the price tag for placing a measure on the ballot would be a little over $250,000. "We have to have buy-in from the public."
Antioch is in the midst of what Councilman Gary Agopian called a "crime emergency." The city has experience double-digit increases in its crime rate percentages the past two years, while the number of arrests continues to drop.
The department is currently staffed at 88 sworn officers, not including a dozen or so on injury leave, Chief Allan Cantando said at Saturday's Coffee with the Cop meeting.
City staff will determine "high, medium and low" price ranges for a sales tax, property tax and business license tax, along with a cost analysis for how much it would cost to return the city to its pre-recession level of 126 sworn officers or 144 officers, City Manager Jim Jakel said.
Agopian's suggestion for a business license tax included freezing license payments from existing businesses for five years, while taxing landlords that own more than one residential property in the city.
Councilmembers said it is important that any tax measure have strict accountability standards, including a citizen's oversight committee. They also indicated that it should have a sunset provision.
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Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.