The “victory” claimed by certain union members by suing the city over the word “reform”—as in “pension reform,” known as Measure B for the June ballot measure—may have actually jeopardized a future tax increase to fund their own jobs. The removal of the wording, “essential city services including neighborhood police patrols, fire stations, libraries, community centers, streets and parks,” was included in the ruling and cannot be used as a way for the city to lure residents into supporting higher taxation.
As a result, if the city of San Jose wanted to propose a general sales tax increase for the November ballot, the Council could no longer list “essential city services.” This wording has been used in the past by the city to garner support for higher taxes. However, there is no guarantee that tax dollars would actually be allocated to essential city services.
Now, as we move forward, only a special tax that requires a 2/3 vote could list the essential city service without a legal challenge. Will taxpayers support a general tax increase if they are not confident it will be spent on essential/core services?
This takes me back to my proposal of setting a fixed percentage—higher than today—of the general fund to be spent on police. Without this assurance, the voter has no way of knowing that additional tax dollars will actually be allocated to police or anything else in the City Charter.
On another topic, I attended the Oversight Board Successor to the Redevelopment Agency (RDA) last week, where the County of Santa Clara auditor reviewed the San Jose RDA Recognized Obligation Payment Schedule. No flaws were found in the payment schedule and San Jose was actually complimented on its work. Who would have thought! The County auditor has issues with other neighboring cities’ accounting.
The Community Budget Season has begun. The first of community budget meetings started in council districts 9 and 10. District 9 had approximately 10 residents, who made comments against opening new facilities that are closed, allowing more volunteer opportunities in the libraries and keeping compensation in check with the private sector so residents would be more likely to support a tax increase. District 10 had a much higher turnout of 40-plus residents, who were concerned about police response time, street lights turned off to save money, getting police out of desk jobs and into the field and suggesting fewer firefighters respond to medical calls.