Today we visited the Save Your City site where anyone can upload videos that communicate their budget views to Sacramento and the Governator. When I searched for Oakland, there was Jean Quan saying leave us alone – that $18 million the State wants to grab from property and gas taxes is ours.
As the City Council’s finance committee chair, Quan forcefully makes her case along these lines:
The State of California has lived on credit cards and hit their limits. They have already made enough funding cuts, directly impacting Oakland which has a higher percentage of seniors and poor residents.
The State wants to take eight percent of our property taxes, which is $11 million. More recently, they want to take most of our gas taxes, which is around $6 million. (This adds up to $17 million but later the $18 million is cited.)
Oakland is looking at an $80 million tax cut because our sales, property, real estate taxes are down. This affects our quality of life – we need our libraries, police officers and streets maintained, etc.
Oakland has plenty of company, as there are 200 California cities declaring severe fiscal hardship. When you search around other cities and their reps, you hear the same push-back on the property taxes grab and the same “leave us alone” echoes.
Save Your City is a grass-roots initiative organized by the League of California Cities. They are encouraging folks to join the coalition or upload videos, and help deliver a thumbs-down message to elected officials in Sacramento.
My take? As a citizen of Montclair Village, Oakland, Alameda County and California during the great recession of 2009, this feels like an internecine budget battle – but I’m siding with Oakland because this one’s patently unfair.
Update: Our State Assembly finalized and delivered a statewide budget on July 23rd. The bad news is that Oakland must lend nearly $12 million in property taxes to Sacramento, and be repaid in three years. Yet there’s some good news because Oakland gets to keep $6 million in gas taxes, along with 30 city workers who maintain streets and sidewalks.