With many voters focusing on the variety of Democratic candidates announcing their candidacy for the 2020 presidential election, the 1,400 residents of Round Hill in Alamo are faced with an election decision that is much sooner and much closer to home, as the deadline approaches for the area’s mail-only special election concerning a proposed parcel tax increase for police services.
On the ballot as Measure C, the ordinance consists of a proposed increase to an existing property tax that will be used for “police protection services,” and requires approval from two-thirds of those voting in order to pass, with the voting deadline set for May 7.
If approved by voters, the special tax on each parcel of taxable property in the area will increase by $140 effective July 1, resulting in a maximum tax of $932 for parcels used for commercial recreational purposes and $470 for all other parcels.
The tax has no expiration date, and according to the ballot package issued by the county, it will be used “solely for the purposes of obtaining, furnishing, operating, and maintaining police protection equipment or apparatus, for paying the salaries and benefits of police protection personnel, and for such other police protection service expenses as are deemed necessary.”
In order to encourage the proper use of funds, the Contra Costa County’s chief fiscal officer will need to write an annual report showing the amount of the tax that has been collected and spent.
Writing in favor of Measure C, four members of the County Service Area P-5 Committee -- the citizen advisory committee tasked with advising the county Board of Supervisors on issues that concern the Round Hill area -- state that if voters do not approve the tax then there will be reduced police services in the area due to a lack of funds.
“More than 15 years ago, the special property tax was increased by the voters to $330 per year for each residential property. That covered the costs of policing and created a reserve fund,” the group wrote. “Over the years, expenses for the police services increased beyond annual revenue such that the reserve fund has been used in recent years to cover the shortfall. Unless the proposal for a $140 increase is approved, the reserve fund will be depleted in approximately two years. The proposed tax increase will allow the current level of police services to continue until approximately 2026.”
The members explained that in addition to the potentially longer response times from officers, if the tax is not increased investigators will not be able to sort through data gathered from the area’s automated license reader cameras that were installed last year.
Members of the P-5 Committee that penned their names include Robert Besse, Mark Cordone, Richard Kopf and Linda Schultz.
No argument against Measure C was filed for the ballot package.
The voter registration deadline has come and gone, but registered voters can still order a ballot until the May 3 deadline. Residents can check their voter status and sign up to receive a mail-in ballot online at the Contra Costa County Elections Division webpage.
May 7 is the last day for registered voters to mail-in their ballots, there will be no polling places utilized as this is a mail-only election, but voters can drop off their ballots at the Elections Office, 555 Escobar Street, Martinez. Regular office hours are Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Election Day from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Prior to the elections end, the Contra Costa County Elections Division is inviting residents to a testing of voting equipment, that will be conducted at the Martinez Elections Office, this Friday at 10 a.m.
Ttest ballots will be run through the ballot machines to ensure that they are functioning properly. County officials say it is a good opportunity to learn about the election process and how votes are counted. For more information, call 335-7800.
For residents of Round Hill who have registered, the Measure C ballot question asks:
"Shall County of Contra Costa Ordinance No. 2019-02 be approved to authorize an increase in the special tax on property located in County Service Area P-5 by $140 per parcel, from a maximum of $792 to a maximum of $932 annually for parcels used for commercial recreational purposes, and from a maximum of $330 to a maximum of $470 annually for all other parcels, to provide additional funding for police protection services?"