Half-cent sales tax prevents cutbacks

City officials crave initiative to reverse steep budget cuts, fund projects

By Roxana Amparo, News Editor

Measure U helps you.

Essential city services, such as public safety, public health and wellness programs, city youth programs and street paving, will be maintained and enhanced with a cost of only half of a cent for the 107,571 residents of Richmond through Measure U.

Measure U is a ballot measure on the Nov. 4 ballot proposing a half-cent sales tax on taxable goods within the city of Richmond.

The taxable goods include non-food products, prescription drugs and energy utilities, among other commodities.

A sales tax is collected when residents purchase an automobile from Richmond and/or make a purchase at a retail store. The sales tax for Richmond is 9 percent, but with Measure U it will match the City of San Pablo at 9.5 percent.

An amount of $7,565,971 would be raised for the fiscal year 2015-2016. The average cost would be $2.93 a month per resident. Measure U only impacts businesses located in Richmond.

According to the neighborhoodscout.com website, Richmond has a crime index of 5, with 100 being the safest. It is safer than only 5 percent of the cities in the U.S.

Within California, more than 97 percent of its cities have lower crime levels than Richmond,
The chance of becoming a victim in Richmond is one in 92 while the chances of becoming a victim in California stand at one in 236. The chances are higher for one city than throughout California, according to the neighborhoodscout.com website.

With Richmond’s history of being one of the highest cities in the nation with assaults, forcible rapes and robbery,  Measure U will accumulate funds from taxes to decrease the level of risk that citizens face. The funds will get distributed throughout the city’s major needs.

Youth violence prevention will demand results —911 responses will come quicker due to an increase of jobs and other essentials, such as enhancing neighborhood parks, tree planting, community cleanups, after school programs for the younger generation and more employment opportunities.

The fire department staffing level will increase to ensure an appropriate emergency response time in case of a fire. The Richmond Police Department’s staffing level will also increase.

According to a Richmond city survey, reducing crime is the highest concern for its residents standing at 96 percent, followed by improving street paving with an 86 percent concern level.

Property crimes — theft, burglary and vehicle theft — is one in 92 in Richmond, while it is one in 36 for California as a whole. The funds collected through Measure U will allow the city to invest in faster action toward crime.

Some of the issues that residents confront on a daily basis are the lack of protection from the authorities with the power to protect caused by the lack of funds to provide for more job openings.
Another important issue, standing at 84 percent, is developing job training opportunities. Jobs are important for a city like Richmond with a high unemployment rate. It should be allowed the opportunity of being able to create new jobs.

Many of the city streets are in poor conditions and, without a sustainable source of funding. These are the roads used  by the people of Richmond on a daily basis. With the constraints of the current budget, the quality of the roads will worsen.

In support of Measure U is city council member Jim Rogers.

Among the cities that have approved similar tax measures are San Pablo, El Cerrito and Sacramento for the purpose of providing greater opportunities for their residents.

The residents of Richmond will be part of the change that occurs in their community.

Although some may say that money will be taken away from Richmond residents, the money will be invested directly for those residing in the Richmond community.

It is a sense of security and a step in the right direction for more opportunities to come. Vote “yes” on Measure U.