The passage of a three-quarter cent sales and use tax measure on the November ballot is crucial to retaining key city services in Rio Vista, according to city officials in the struggling Delta community.
Rio Vista Interim City Manager Joseph Tanner said that if Measure O fails in the upcoming election, the city will have to consider cutting critical services such as its fire department or operating without a city manager permanently. As the former city manager who recommended bankruptcy for the city of Vallejo, Tanner said that Rio Vista will have to determine if it can continue to be a city at that point.
"The city is so broke, it can't afford to claim bankruptcy," said the former city manager of Galt, Emeryville, Pleasant Hill and Vallejo. "It (Measure O) won't make the city wealthy. It is just barely enough for the city to survive the next five years and, hopefully, the economy will come back."
If passed by a majority of Rio Vista's approximately 5,000 registered voters, Measure O includes a five-year sunset. It will cost between $2,500 and $5,000 to place the tax measure on the ballot.
In the last five years, Rio Vista Mayor Jan Vick said that the city's general fund revenue has dropped by 42 percent and the Rio Vista City Council has been making continual cuts, including one-third of the city staff. In the next two years, Vick said that the city will have to make $600,000 in additional budget cuts.
"We really would
According to Tanner, a multitude of financial issues have impacted the city from suffering through state take-aways and plummeting property taxes. He said that the nationwide economic recession hit Rio Vista especially hard.
"I'm convinced that it has hit smaller cities harder. Most smaller cities don't have any reserve cushion," Vick agreed. "What the bigger cities are feeling now, we felt three years ago."
Measure O's potential success would allow the city to build up its reserves, which Vick said are now virtually nothing. She added that it is impossible for a city to cut its way out of a huge deficit.
Rio Vista Vice Mayor Jack Krebs said that the budget can't be balanced without the additional income source. So far, there hasn't been any vocal opposition to Measure O, Krebs noted.
"Those who understand the problems of the city certainly understand that and they support the tax increase," he said.
Reach Paula King at 925-779-7174.