Hayward councilmember’s plea for tax measure: ‘We are at the breaking point’

During a meeting with Alameda County Democrats Wednesday night in which Hayward Councilmember Elisa Marquez lobbied support of Measure T, the city’s proposed real property transfer tax increase estimated to bring in $6-8 million in new annual revenues, she sounded the alarm on the city’s dire financial outlook.

“We are at a breaking point. If we do not find more revenue, services are going to be impacted to the entire community,” said Marquez.

Years of stagnant revenues in Hayward in tandem with rising employee costs have been a drain of the city’s general fund reserve. During the most recent budget season earlier this year it was estimated the city’s reserves could be depleted in four years.

“The reason why we are putting this on the ballot is that we have structural deficit,” Marquez added. “Something that is beyond our reach and our control in the city of Hayward.”

Pension costs, in addition, to a lower discount rate, and rising salaries and benefits are hampering the city’s budget, even though its labor groups are bearing more of the costs of their benefits.

Measure T would almost double Hayward’s existing real property transfer tax from $4.50 per $1,000 of property value on residential and commercial buildings to $8.50. The tax is paid only paid by either the buyer, purchaser, or a combination of both upon sale of property in Hayward.

Exemptions from the tax are allowed for properties that are gifted, donated or inherited.

Despite the proposed increase, Hayward’s real property transfer tax would still be the second-lowest in Alameda County. Only San Leandro’s $6 per $1,000 of property value would be lower. Meanwhile, a similar tax is assessed at $15 in Oakland and Berkeley, $13 in Piedmont, and $12 in Alameda and Emeryville.

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