Oakland to give voters choice of 3 new taxes in effort to close $50-million deficit

Parcel tax of $360, $1.99 phone tax or 10% tax on cannabis sales: Take your pick

The Oakland City Council voted Monday night to put three tax measures on the November ballot that if approved would help close the city's budget gap, which is projected to reach $50 million next year.

The council voted in favor of giving voters the option of enacting a public safety parcel tax, cannabis tax and/or telephone tax when they vote in the November general election, City Councilman Ignacio De La Fuente said.

The parcel tax measure would impose fees of up to $360 per year and raise up to $53 million annually if passed by voters. It was approved 5-3.

Supporters say the measure would help the city hire more police after 80 officers were recently laid off to help balance the city budget, but others say it will be difficult to get the two-thirds majority support needed to enact the proposed taxes.

The council also voted in favor of a measure that would tax cannabis dispensaries, production and cultivation by 5 percent and recreational use by 10 percent if cannabis is legalized at the state level.

Vice Mayor Jean Quan had proposed a measure that would tax cannabis at 2.5 percent, but the council voted in favor of the higher figure,

De La Fuente said.

A phone tax measure was also approved 5-2 that would impose a $1.99 fee annually if passed.

De La Fuente said he voted against all but the cannabis tax measure.

"We can't continue to tax people when they are losing their homes," he said before the meeting.

The council held a long public hearing with numerous speakers on the proposed measures last Thursday night, and public comment was permitted Monday as well.

The council voted at about 9:30 p.m., according to De La Fuente.

"There was plenty of discussion," he said. "Now it's going to be up to the voters."

In order to have time to place any of the measures on the November ballot, the council needed act before the end of this week.

Bay City News contributed to this story.

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Like this comment
Posted by SteveP
a resident of Parkside
on Jul 27, 2010 at 8:36 am

SteveP is a registered user.

I wonder where they think all this money wil come from.....not surprisingly they have turned to drugs to solve all their problems.

Like this comment
Posted by Ryan
a resident of Downtown
on Jul 27, 2010 at 2:13 pm

I definitely glad I don't live in Oakland. It doesn't take a genius to conclude that siphoning a lot of additional money out of Oakland's economy to restore the police force back to early 2010 levels (where crime *already* was completely out-of-control) will result in more people with financial hardships and guess what: more crime.

My estimate is that the Oakland police force needs to beefed up to about *four times* the size it was *before* the layoffs, in order to bring the city back from the brink. It's truly sad to see a city that (from what I hear) was booming in the 1950's only to find itself making a mad-dash towards anarchy in the 21st century.

Like this comment
Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Jul 27, 2010 at 8:42 pm

""We can't continue to tax people when they are losing their homes," he said before the meeting."

At least someone in the Oakland City Government is using rational judgement.

Just ... Say ... NO! to new taxes.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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