Alameda infrastructure bond measure could be coming to the ballot this year

A proposed Alameda infrastructure bond
measure in June could join other high-
profile tax and fee increases this June.

ALAMEDA CITY COUNCIL
Last September, hundreds of residents in Alameda’s West End reported foul-smelling water coming from the taps and shower heads. Although the exact reason for the leaky pipes is still under investigation, the incident again highlighted the city’s aging infrastructure and the lack of funding needed for wholesale repairs.

One proposal then as now is to ask voters to help foot the bill for what the city says is roughly $300 million in needed improvements to Alameda’s storm water and drinking water infrastructure not currently budgeted for the next two years.

On Tuesday, the Alameda City Council will discuss placing a $95 million general obligation bond measure on the June 5 ballot. The city estimates the bond measure, if approved, would costs Alameda property owners an average of $23 per $100,000 of the assessed value of their property over the next 30 years. A potentially tidy sum in a city where the value of many homes routinely top $1 million. Such a general obligation bond requires support from two-thirds of voters for passage. (Tuesday’s agenda item requires support from four of five councilmembers for approval.)

But, based on recent polling the ballot measure, with 68 percent of voters, would struggle to meet the requisite threshold for passage. At this point, any successful measure should be garnering support from at least 75 percent of the public or more.

Notwithstanding, Alameda’s infrastructure, like many older cities in the Greater East Bay, needs extensive upgrades. More than a third of Alameda’s $300 million in outstanding infrastructure needs revolves around stormwater and flood prevention issues, according to the city. Clean drinking water improvements and funding for city parks, in addition, to money for streets are also proposed beneficiaries of the bond’s proceeds.

Placing the bond measure on the June ballot could also be costly in and of itself. Election-related costs could top $310,000 for the city to hold the election in June because Alameda does not hold municipal elections during the primary season. The presence of additional races on the November ballot, such as Alameda’s mayoral and council contests, help defray costs charged by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters to conduct local elections.

The June primary date may be more advantageous to supporters of the bond measure because of the expected smaller ballot, as opposed to the November General Election. However, if the council decides to place the bond measure on the June ballot, it would join other high-profile tax and fee-generating measure on the East Bay ballot and risks having Alameda voters feeling over-taxed.

Earlier this month the Alameda County Board of Supervisors placed a countywide half-cent sales tax ballot measure on the June ballot to support child care and early education. The same week, elected officials from the nine Bay Area counties placed a bridge toll increase on the same ballot to raise $4.4 billion over the next three decades.

Advertisements