While the budget approved Tuesday by the City Council avoided cuts, it fell short of enough money to restore and ramp up services, like repaving streets and hiring more cops.
City leaders voted 7-4 to explore the possibility of putting a tax hike on the November ballot. Residents can expect calls from pollsters asking them how they feel about four separate measures: a quarter-cent tax hike for public safety, a quarter-cent tax for streets, a general sales tax increase and bumping the cannabis club tax from 10 to 20 percent.
“I think it’s clear that folks would like to see a greater investment in city services, in boosting city services,” Councilman Don Rocha told San Jose Inside. “We really need to enhance what we have … I’m really interested to see what residents have to say.”
If residents favor a tax increase, a measure will likely make it to the fall ballot. The money could go toward general service improvements like extending library hours, hiring more firefighters and police or tackling the massive backlog of street repairs. Or it could be pegged for specific costs. A measure would need two-thirds vote approval to translate to reality.
Polling costs $50,000 and starts in July and the results will come back in time for the Aug. 5 council meeting.
A quarter-cent increase to the city's 8.75 percent sales tax would rake in $34 million a year in additional revenue. A half-cent tax hike would raise $68 million.
Earmarking the funds for a specific purpose would need supermajority support to pass. A general tax increase would only need a simple majority but may not garner as much voter support, the city says.
More from Tuesday’s council meeting—the last before summer recess:
- The council heard the final reading of a strict new marijuana ordinance that limits cannabis clubs to a small fraction of industrial zones in the city. That leaves hundreds of parcels, but not all have willing landlords and not all are available for rent. The new rules mean that most pot shops in the city will have to close or relocate. They also have to re-think their supply chain since the ordinance requires all medical marijuana sold in San Jose to be grown in Santa Clara County or a contiguous county.
- All agreements with bargaining units passed, which means 3 percent pay raises for electricians, maintenance workers and engineers working for the city.
- Google will consider installing its “fiber huts” on city property, making San Jose one of the pilot cities for expanding its brand of residential high-speed broadband. The city wasn't formally chosen yet, a Google rep said. But it's part of a planning process with 34 other cities across the U.S.
- Councilman Xavier Campos’ request to re-cast a vote for a Planning Commission appointment failed. So it’s official: real estate agent Nick Pham ousted incumbent Hope Cahan for a seat on the commission, thanks in part to Campos’ unintentional support.
- Homeless residents will get to redeem their housing vouchers at hotels and motels now.
- Construction on a new $8.9 million library, the Southeast Branch, was approved unanimously. This marks the 20th library to be built using bond revenue approved by the council 14 years ago.
- The Diridon Area Plan, a master plan to completely transform the city’s biggest transit hub into a dense urban zone, passed with full council support.