San Leandro Places 30-Year Sales Tax Extension on November Ballot

SAN LEANDRO CITY COUNCIL | Nearly four years after voters in San Leandro approved a much-needed sales tax measure viewed by many to have helped the city escape the worst of the Great Recession, city leaders will again ask them to extend the half-cent increase next fall for another 30 years.

The San Leandro City Council approved placing the extension on the ballot Monday night that could potentially net the city $8 million annually in revenue. The vote was 6-0, with Councilmember Ursula Reed absent.

The previous referendum, known as Measure Z, passed in 2010, but included a sunset clause set to expire in 2018. City leaders, however, said the time is now to ask voters to renew the successful sales tax measure to increase budget predictability and repair some of the worst roads in Alameda County.

“The timing is right,” said Councilmember Michael Gregory. In particular, the state of San Leandro’s roads and the lack of funding has been a consistent problem over the past four years, said Gregory “We have been searching and failed to find any funding,” said Gregory. “Nobody has come up with a better solution that I know of.” Federal and state funding for road work is unlikely, he said. “We can’t wait; we have to do this now.”

During his run for office in 2010, San Leandro Mayor Stephen Cassidy campaigned vigorously against Measure Z, but now supports its extension this year. Without the additional sales tax revenue, steep cuts to services and staff that highlighted recent economic down times could return, said Cassidy. “If Measure Z expires and there is no replacement, it will be some hard constraints on our budget.”

Cassidy is not running for re-election this year, but the two council members running to replace him this fall, Councilmembers Diana Souza and Pauline Cutter, both registered strong support for the proposed ballot measure. Councilmember Jim Prola added, he believes the steady flow of sales tax revenue will not only help the city repair its infrastructure, but potentially help it hire more police officers.

The City Council also discussed adding a second ballot measure in November. This one, an extremely simple and non-controversial revision to the City Charter hopes to move the ceremonial appointment of vice mayor from May to January.