ANTIOCH — Leaders here may cash in on local shoppers to help alleviate the city's budget woes.
The City Council will decide tonight whether to place a half-cent sales tax measure on the November ballot to help pay for services in the cash-strapped city.
The money would be geared toward helping Antioch avoid further cuts to city services, such as police and code enforcement, City Manager Jim Jakel said. It would also be used for repairs such as fixing potholes, sidewalk maintenance and cleaning abandoned and foreclosed properties, he said.
The proposed sales tax measure, which would be in place for eight years, could raise about $4 million each year for local use only, according to a city staff report.
The proposal appears to have considerable community support, according to the report. However, the report did not include results from a private survey of register voters that was conducted recently.
The tax amounts to 50 extra cents for every $100 spent in Antioch. It would push the sales tax in the East Contra Costa city from 9.25 percent to 9.75 percent. The staff report does not specify how the money would be divided, though a citizens committee would be appointed to oversee expenditures.
Antioch recently adopted a near $35 million general fund budget that includes 17 layoffs, mostly from support staff in the police department while reducing city services to what officials call a "bare bones" level. Leaders discussed asking voters to tax themselves to generate money for city services.
"At this point, we're just trying to survive," Mayor Pro Tem Mary Rocha said. "We've got to share the cost. We've done everything we can."
The sales tax makes the most sense because it impacts people with money to spend, rather than those struggling to buy groceries or on fixed incomes, Councilwoman Martha Parsons said. Further, it provides a constant flow of money coming in to the city rather than a parcel tax, she said.
A sales tax ballot measure requires only a simple majority while a parcel tax requires a two-thirds majority vote for approval.
In addition to city services listed on the sales tax proposal, there would be a "ripple effect" that would boost services such as recreation and animal services, Rocha said.
It will cost Antioch roughly $86,000 to put the measure on the ballot, city officials said.
Antioch received about $33.6 million in general fund revenue; about $13.5 million less than the city took in four years ago because of losses in property and sales tax revenue.
After cutting close to $13 million the past two years, Antioch must cut another $925,000 for this fiscal year. Initial figures also show Antioch must cut $3.6 million in expenditures next year.
Pinole and Richmond currently have the highest sales tax in Contra Costa County at 9.75 percent. All other Contra Costa cites pay 9.25 percent sales tax.
Alameda County cities pay 9.75 percent sales tax. San Joaquin County cities, with the exception of Manteca and Stockton, pay 8.75 percent. Manteca's sales tax is a half cent more while Stockton pays an additional quarter cent.
Tracy, Concord, El Cerrito and San Leandro are East Bay cities also considering placing sales tax hikes on the November ballot.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.