Measure S.2 – For or Against?

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The November election is approximately 25 days away, November 4, 2014.
The Pinole City Council race is not really much of a race as only the incumbents are on the ballot.
But Pinole taxpayers will be considering Measure S (Measure S part 2) an increase to the current sales tax in Pinole from 9% to 9.5%.
This measure requires only a majority to pass as the tax is not specific but discretionary.
Which means that the voter must believe that the City of Pinole is being run efficiently, effectively and can be trusted to spend these new revenues wisely and in their best interests.
Council member Long stated that although the Council can not dedicate Measure S funds to specific expenses, that they can commit to shoring up specific areas such as Police, Fire and Public Works.

If you look around our city you can see the effect the loss of Redevelopment Funds has had on the City. Redevelopment funds were the City’s cash cow and that cow was put to death by Governor Brown.
Couple the loss of Redevelopment Funds, the economic recession and the increasing cost of services and it is apparent that our City has many fiscal challenge, as do all cities.
This community has always supported its Public Safety and the maintenance of our streets, roads and parks.

However, the opposition to this Measure does not support the way our city has handled its relationship with our Fire Fighters. And questions have been raised about the first Measure S and how that revenue has been managed.
The City of Pinole is on the verge of losing (because they haven’t used) the $1.2 million Safer Grant for fire personnel. That grant expires in March 2015 and the City must obtain waivers and have them take place in a very time sensitive situation.
This was discussed at length at the October 7 city council meeting.
View Video here (jump to Safer Grant presentation).

Some are unhappy with the way some services they have long enjoyed and counted on,  have been cut or eliminated and are being kept alive by volunteers, Parks and Recreation  most significantly.

The Contra Costa Times has not endorsed the sales tax measure.
The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association is also opposed to this sales tax.

Will Measure S.2 fix these problems?
Will Measure S.2 restore these services?
Will Measure S.2 give the taxpayer what council says they are committed to, but are not legally responsible to do?
Will Measure S.2 be used as specified in the Ballot language?

At a recent City Council meeting a proponent of the increased tax explained how costs have gone up. Yes, in life everything goes up, rarely do costs go down. The two hot dogs with mustard and sauerkraut in the fifties in New York he spoke of, although a nice graphic image, don’t address the questions being raised in this community about the proposed increase. We are not talking about paying more for hot dogs. W’re talking about the discretionary use of this revenue source.

Those who oppose Measure S.2 point to the discord between the Fire Fighters and the City. They point to the uncertain future of Fire Fighters in Pinole and the doubt that new recruits have about working for this City.
They point to administrative staffing costs for a city this size.
Others have pointed out how the City has embroiled itself in litigation and misspent funds.

The truth is that Measure S.2 is likely to pass, why?
Because the average citizen doesn’t mind having non-residents foot the bill.
Because a sales tax is not another hit to the tax weary property owner.
Because the City is spending $7,000 to promote and market the measure with no organized opposition.
The truth is that the resources of our Police and Fire are taxed by incidents caused by non-residents shopping in our city.

Many Pinole residents shop in other cities and they will continue to do so. Some may even travel to cities where they can pay a lower sales tax. I know that many Pinole residents drive to Vallejo to make purchases at the large warehouse stores.
The city’s sales tax revenue is and has been a dependable and sustainable source of  revenue.

The Pinole Chamber of Commerce is not opposing this sales tax increase and I have heard nothing from the business community, which, in reality is affected by this tax more than anyone else.

If it passes is it because taxpayers have faith in their elected officials?
Or because but they want to have the critical services they pay taxes for and believe they are entitled to receive and will receive with this increase in revenue?

If measure S.2 passes taxpayers are trusting that our elected officials are truly committed to using these new revenues for the services they say the taxes are for. That they will safeguard the revenues to keep our city safe, clean and well maintained and to provide the services we have heretofore enjoyed.

The passage of Measure S.2 means that we have to trust that our elected officials do the right thing, that they keep their word to hold the line when it comes to staffing in areas other than Public Safety. It means we trust that they will spend these funds on Public Safety and Public Works even though they will have the discretion to spend it on anything they deem necessary.