The Oakland City Council made some tough choices when it adopted a budget that bridged an $83 million budget gap. The council slashed city services across the board, and convinced employee unions to take a 10 percent cut in compensation. The council even took on the city's sacred cow — the police department, cutting its budget by 10 percent. But if the four ballot measures in this month's mail-in election go down to defeat, the city will have to gut services even more.
The most controversial of the ballot proposals is Measure D. It would modify Measure OO, the truly awful ballot initiative from last November's election. Measure OO forces the city to set $5.1 million — money it doesn't have — for kids programs on top of the $10 million it already spends. Measure D would reduce the set asides, saving the city about $3.7 million next year.
Opponents of Measure D believe that Measure OO should simply be overturned. And while we were against Measure OO, too, we think it's unlikely that voters will repeal it so soon. Moreover, mounting a campaign against kids programs would be difficult in a liberal town like Oakland, and Measure OO supporters are politically formidable. Defeating them outright is unrealistic.
Plus, those same supporters are now backing Measure D, after reaching a compromise with the city council. That makes the passage of Measure D much more likely. In addition, we think it's unlikely that Oakland residents would vote to turn down a compromise proposal like Measure D and then vote to overturn Measure OO. Measure C may be the second most controversial of the ballot proposals. It would increase the city's hotel tax 3 percent, from 11 percent to 14 percent, raising about $2.8 million next year. The revenues would be given to the Oakland Convention and Visitors Bureau (50 percent), the Oakland Zoo (12.5 percent), the Oakland Museum of California (12.5 percent), the Chabot Space and Science Center (12.5 percent), and city cultural arts programs and festivals (12.5 percent).
Measure F would increase the tax on medical marijuana sales from $1.20 per $1,000 of gross receipts to $18 per $1,000. It's a 1,400 percent increase, but Oakland's pot clubs support it. It will not only raise nearly $300,000 for the city next year, but it will help solidify the legitimacy of medical cannabis.
And finally, Measure H would close a loophole that allows corporate entities to avoid property transfer tax on real estate when the ownership of the entity changes during a merger, consolidation, or acquisition. The measure could raise as much as $4.4 million a year for the city if past lost revenue is any indication.
In all, the four measures could generate $11.2 million for the city next year. Make sure you mail in your ballot soon; the deadline for receiving them is July 21.
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