STOCKTON, CA - Stockton city leaders voted unanimously to put a contentious three-quarter cent sales tax on the November ballot during a Stockton City Council meeting Tuesday night.
There were lots of divided opinions at the meeting about putting the tax before voters to consider.
The tax initiative would raise $28 million during the first year. That money would go towards hiring 120 more police officers, funding the Marshall Plan to fight crime and help Stockton pay off its debt, according to City Manager Bob Deis.
Deis said bankruptcy will not end or solve Stockton's woes. He said a tax hike is necessary to help Stockton successfully exit bankruptcy sooner, rather than later.
Many opponents said they don't trust what happens with the money and that there's no accountability.
"To me, this thing will not pass. It's not good for us," Stockton resident Cecilia Mendez said.
"We've trusted, trusted, and trusted and don't have a whole lot to show for it," resident Karen Cenggs said. "We have no guarantee where that money is going, but you want us to pay for it."
Meanwhile, others said there's no other choice but to consider tax hikes and let voters have their say in November.
"I support the tax," resident Andre Reeki said. "There's a lot of opposition. People don't like to pay for mistakes made in the past. But, there's no other options."
Before the meeting, Mayor Anthony Silva said he wasn't sure how he was going to vote on the issue. He was originally only backing a 1/2 cent sales tax hike to hire more officers.
Tuesday night, the mayor and council members voted 7 to 0 in favor of pushing the measure onto the November ballot. Silva spent quite some time talking about why he was not in favor of the tax initiative, but in the end, he did not oppose it.
By Suzanne Phan, firstname.lastname@example.org