ANTIOCH -- Though it remains uncertain what voters will be asked to consider in November to boost the city's policing, leaders here gave a little clarity this week as to what a possible tax measure may look like.
The Antioch City Council agreed that a parcel tax, which would require a two-thirds' majority vote, is a long shot and should receive little, if any, consideration.
"Getting a two-thirds vote is definitely very hard to achieve," Councilwoman Monica Wilson said.
The two options city leaders indicated they favor are a sales tax and a business license tax, or a combination of both.
With the business tax option, Antioch councilman Gary Agopian asked to look at an increase in license fees for businesses such as smoke shops, bar, liquor stores or others that take up "an inordinate amount of police time," and a five-year freeze on fees for other businesses.
Antioch is also considering a tax on landlords, which has been popular among residents since discussions on a possible tax kicked off last month. Agopian suggested a $240 per rental unit fee.
Most of eight residents who spoke Tuesday favored finding a way to help fund police and code enforcement.
"Police staffing is at a critical level; it's critically bad," said Hans Ho, captain of the city's Neighborhood Watch program. "We shouldn't need to see (officers) get injured or killed before we give them more help."
After sharing how his neighbors created a Neighborhood Watch because of increased crime, and that a nearby home was recently the site of a police raid and that continued activity outside is intimidating, resident Richard Asadoorian urged that something be done to help Antioch "not succumb to the scum."
The council echoed the idea of the importance of adding police staffing given Antioch's spike in crime.
Based on council direction last month, city staff is in the process of determining "high, medium and low" price ranges for the tax options, 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 a "more optimal" level of 144 officers. It also requested Tuesday a community survey.
The council also asked city staff to bring back figures showing how much it would cost to reinstate a 40-hour workweek for city employees, though that figure will not be added to calculations for the tax measure, City Manager Jim Jakel said. City employees now work 36-hour weeks and are furloughed on Fridays.
Those figures will be discussed when the council looks at the city budget, Jakel said.
Antioch police is staffed at 91 sworn officers, though of those officers, a dozen or so are on injury leave, Chief Allan Cantando said last month. Earlier this week, the department swore in three officers: two veteran police officers and a third out of the academy.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.