Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Vallejo Tax Increase: Fool Me Once...You Know the Rest

Back in 2011, Mayor Osby Davis and his Council majority wanted a new public safety tax. They knew they didn't have the votes for a special tax, so they put forward Measure B, a general tax (they only needed a simple majority of voters to approve a general tax -- 50% plus one voter -- vs. 2/3 of the voters for a special tax).  They promised it would sunset in ten years, they promised they'd stick to our new policy of one time monies for one time costs. Councilmember Schivley and I knew that Measure B was a bag of empty promises pushed by the Public Safety unions, and we wrote the Argument Against Measure B.  Measure B passed in the 2011 election by a vote of 9,295 to 9,136 -- it won by less than one percent! 

I feel the same way now about a new proposed tax  by the City Council. First show me you can spend the money you have right now wisely before we give you any more. Right now, your grade is a solid "D-". 

Measure B: To enhance funding for 9-1-1 response, police patrols, firefighter and paramedic services, youth and senior programs, street and pothole repair, graffiti removal, economic development, and general city services, shall the sales tax be raised one cent, expiring after ten years, with all revenue legally required to stay in Vallejo?[4]


Stephanie Gomes, Councilmember, City of Vallejo
Joanne Schivley, Councilmember, City of Vallejo

Vallejo has been hit hard by this Recession - people and businesses are struggling just to survive.

If Measure B is approved, Vallejo will have higher sales taxes than American Canyon, Napa and all Solano County. This will put our existing businesses at a disadvantage and discourage new businesses. Sales taxes also hurt those who can least afford them – seniors on fixed incomes, students and the poor.

For years, Vallejo has balanced its budget by reducing staff and slashing essential services. We must stop cutting services and start reducing the cost of providing them. Many city employees make more than $100,000 per year, get free or reduced cost health care, and can retire in their 50s with pensions far greater than the private sector. These costs ($61,993,036) consume more than 94 percent of the current General Fund budget ($65,717,328) – leaving less than six percent for everything else.

Vacaville has 36 more police personnel (sworn and non-sworn) than Vallejo, and pays $4,000,000 per year less. They have three more firefighters, and pay $1,800,000 less. If our Police and Fire Departments were staffed and paid the same as Vacaville, we could have more public safety employees and still save $5,800,000.

Future City Councils will be able to spend new sales tax revenue however they choose – no restrictions. In bankruptcy, the Council majority approved two employee contracts that guaranteed raises and free health care. Considering that track record, we cannot trust that increased taxes will be spent on improving services, not on employee pay and pensions.

Increasing Vallejo’s sales tax now is a bad idea. It’s time to make tough choices, reduce employee costs and quit kicking the can down the road. We must get our fiscal house in order before asking taxpayers for more money.

Vote NO on Measure B


Osby Davis, Mayor, City of Vallejo
Michael Wilson, Vice Mayor, City of Vallejo

Now is the time to rebuild our great city by reinvesting in public safety and economic development, attracting new businesses, repairing our streets, reestablishing quality of life services such as programs for our youth, senior citizens and the arts. It is time to put our safety and well being in a position of strength.

Voting YES on Measure B will allow us to begin the process of strengthening these vital services.

Since we were elected, the city council has passed resolutions and adopted measures to stabilize our finances. We have balanced our projected expenses with projected income. Our budget is projected to be balanced for the next five years. We have set in place policies for living within our means.

We are now in the process of rebuilding our city and this is the perfect opportunity to do so without costing the citizens of Vallejo any more in sales taxes than we have already been paying during the past years. The state of California’s 1% sales tax which diverted our tax dollars to state of California and away from Vallejo ended earlier this year. Measure B will allow us to keep our 1% sales tax dollars in the city of Vallejo to rejuvenate and rebuild our beautiful city. We will continue to pay the same sales tax rate as before.

It is time us to come together and invest in our future. If you want to rebuild Public Safety, Economic Development, Quality of Life Services and Repair our Deteriorating Infrastructure, we urge you to join us in Voting Yes on Measure B.

Let’s keep our sales tax in our City by voting yes on Measure B.


Stephanie Gomes, Councilmember, City of Vallejo
Joanne Schivley, Councilmember, City of Vallejo


The City Councilmembers who support Measure B are the very people who, while in bankruptcy, approved a new contract, with pay raises, that cut our police force from 134 to 117 in 2009, to 104 in 2010, and to 90 now.  Then, they approved a management contract with pay raises while employees in other California cities were taking salary and benefit cuts.  If all salaries and benefits had been cut 10 percent while in bankruptcy, Vallejo could have saved $6.8 million.  Now, they’re asking us to pay more taxes to fund those increased salaries and benefits.


Supporters of Measure B argue that it won’t cost more than we’ve been paying because the State sales tax was reduced one percent. If Measure B is approved, Vallejo will still have higher sales taxes than American Canyon, Napa and all Solano County.  This will hurt residents and businesses and slow job growth and economic development.  And, it doesn’t address the real issue that most contributed to Vallejo’s bankruptcy – unsustainable employee contracts and the exploding cost of pensions.


“Living within our means” doesn’t mean increasing taxes to cover costs that are too high and need to be reduced.  Because this is a general tax, there is no guarantee any increase will be spent on economic development, infrastructure improvements or quality of life services – and not on employee pay and pensions. Tell the City Council to make the needed changes to our employee costs first. Then they can ask for more tax dollars. 


Vote NO on Measure B