In November, Walnut Creek residents will vote on a half-cent sales tax increase that would pay for a number of city services upgrades, including law enforcement and public safety.
After last November’s mass burglary at a Nordstrom store in Walnut Creek, the city hired five more police officers. But federal stimulus funds for those hires will run out soon. Measure O would fund those positions for the next 10 years.
The measure asks Walnut Creek residents to raise the sales tax from 8.75% to 9.25% over the next decade to raise about $11 million annually. The funds would not only pay for crime prevention and public safety, but also help people who are unhoused, improve services for the young and the old and upgrade aging infrastructure such as the public pool at Heather Farm Park.
“Well, it’s old, it’s always breaking down,” resident Debbie Ward said about the pool. “The locker rooms are bad. It’s very shallow, so you can’t use it for certain types of swim meets.”
Mayor Matt Francois said building a new pool at Heather Farm brings additional meets to town, people staying at hotels and eating at restaurants.
Francois and the City Council unanimously approved the measure for the ballot.
“Half the tax would be paid for by visitors, by non-residents, people who are coming from out of town to shop at Broadway Plaza or to come to our restaurants and shops,” the mayor said. “They would be paying their fair share or two.”
“This is one of the wealthiest communities in the United States. It’s like everything else. They’re always find more ways to spend more money
Some residents are concerned about the timing of the proposed tax increase.
“With inflation the way it is right now, everything costs more. People are struggling as it is. So why tax even more where you’re gonna have more issues because of that?” resident Crissy Zupo said. “As a city, you’re going to have people not being able to pay their rent, their mortgages, things like that.”
Francois added: “I agree … I’m a person who doesn’t like to pay taxes. But I also love living here in this community. And I value the high quality of life we have. To me, the trade-off is worth it.”
The mayor said no one has filed an opposition statement to Measure O, and it has received support from Walnut Creek downtown and the chamber of commerce.
Source: NBC Bay Area