Measures R and X Tax Increases

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(Kathy Enzerink, Photographer)
Julie and Jim Lee, who have been voting since the early 60s, take advantage of early voting and the convenient location of the Ballot Drop Box in front of City Hall.

    The Orinda sales tax rate will increase by one-percent (1.0%) if voters approve ballot Measures R and X Nov. 3. Contra Costa County and the City of Orinda are each seeking a .5% increase, effective April 1, 2021, and both will have a 20-year life. A simple majority is required for each, and all proceeds will be deposited into the respective general funds.
    During a presentation at the Aug. 4 City Council meeting, Finance Director Paul Rankin described funding and essential services needs for “fire fuel reduction and emergency planning, critical drainage improvements and continued public road maintenance,” and a “proposed dedicated position to coordinate emergency and disaster response.”
    According to an impartial analysis of Measure R, City Attorney Osa Wolff writes, the tax “could be used for any municipal governmental purpose,” and “the Measure does not bind the city to use the proceeds for any particular city services, facilities, or programs.”
    Proponents and opponents of Measure R have spent several thousand dollars urging voter support. Some hot-topic points-of-view from campaign advertising and social media outlets include the following:

Vote YES on Measure R:
    It will double annual revenue to $2.4 million dollars.
    It will improve wildfire safety and maintain defensible space.
    It will maintain safe emergency evacuation routes.
    It promotes long-term planning with 20-year tax rate.
    It exempts groceries and prescription drugs from the tax increase.
    Its flexibility allows the community to steer funds where needed most.
    Its strict, fiscal accountability can be confirmed by Citizens’ Infrastructure Oversight Commission.

Vote NO on Measure R:
    It’s vague – the sales tax revenue goes to the General Fund, not a specific purpose.
    Its alternative could be a 5-year parcel tax generating $1.1 million per year, dedicated to fire prevention.
    It is “a road tax masquerading as fire prevention tax.”
    It does not include privately-maintained public roads and storm drains.
    It adds a half-cent sales tax to what’s already in effect until April 2023.
    It’s a tax increase slated to be in effect for 20 years.
    It’s the wrong time to double a sales tax in the middle of a pandemic.
    If Measure R does not glean a simple majority of votes Nov. 3, the existing .5% City sales tax remains in effect until April 2023, and a new or revised proposal can be placed on the November 2022 ballot to become effective when the current rate expires. The same scenario applies to Measure X, the Contra Costa County .5% sales tax increase proposal.
    Mail-in ballots must be postmarked no later than Nov. 3, or may be deposited 24/7 in the ballot box in front of City Hall at 22 Orinda Way.

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