$9M at stake in Oakland election

July 18, 2009 3:12:24 PM PDT
About $9 million is at stake in four measures that are on the ballot in Oakland's first mail-in election that ends Tuesday.

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City Council President Jane Brunner said the city is counting on all the measures passing because every dollar is precious in Oakland, where the council was forced to slash $83 million in funding so that its $414 million budget for fiscal 2010 is balanced.

Brunner said, "If they don't pass, we'll have to come back and cut some more programs."

Brunner said she's most interested in the fate of Measure D, which modifies a similar measure, called Kids First, which voters approved last year.

It would require the city to set aside 3 percent of its annual unrestricted general purpose fund revenues for grants to children and youth services.

Brunner said it would raise about $3 million this year and up to $17 million in future years.

Measure C, the only measure that needs two-thirds approval, would increase Oakland's hotel tax by 3 percentage points, to 14 percent. It's expected to generate an additional $2.8 million this year for a total of $12.9 million.

Measure F would tax gross receipts of all cannabis businesses at a 1.8 percent rate. It's expected to generate $294,000.

Measure H would ensure that property transfer taxes be applied to properties that change hands, including those that are a results of mergers, acquisitions and other corporate ownership changes.

City officials estimate that it would generate $4.4 million in additional tax revenue.

Oakland residents have been turning in their ballots by mail or in person for the last several weeks.

Although ballots that are received in the mail by Tuesday will still be counted, Alameda County Registrar of Voters spokesman Guy Ashley said at this point voters should turn in their ballots in person to make sure they're received in time.

Ballots can be turned in at the Registrar of Voters office or at Oakland City Hall, he said.

Brunner said she thinks there may be a low turnout in the election because there aren't any hot issues and the ballot measures haven't generated a lot of controversy or opposition.

Ashley said the process for tabulating the ballots is expected to be fairly quick because the registrar's office has already started counted ballots that were turned in early. However, he didn't commit to a specific date.

Brunner said she hopes the ballots are counted by July 28, because that's the last date the City Council can make adjustments to its budget, if necessary, before it takes its long summer recess.

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