Measure B, a 15-year sales tax that’s expected to bring $40 million a year to the city’s general fund, passed with nearly 62 percent of the vote.
Measure C, which would have replaced the city’s marijuana ordinance with looser rules, lost by a huge margin. Two-thirds of voters rejected the initiative, which faced an uphill battled after its own author came out against it in the past month.
Because Measure B was a general tax, the city can spend the revenue on any number of city services. A special tax locks funds into a specific use, but would have required a supermajority vote to pass.
Regardless, the San Jose leaders promised to use money raised from the tax hike to restore the city’s depleted police force and chip away at a massive backlog of street repairs.
Mayor Sam Liccardo thanked voters for endorsing the tax measure, which he called an investment in the city’s future.
“After years of belt-tightening through fiscal reforms and other cost-cutting measures, the voters agreed that additional revenues are needed to continue restoring essential city services,” he wrote in a statement Wednesday morning. “As we move towards adopting a final budget for the upcoming fiscal year, it’s critical that we focus these additional dollars on our residents’ top priorities: enhancing public safety and repairing our deteriorating roads.”
According to the Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters, Measure B secured a clear victory. The tax will take effect in October, which the city says will raise $30 million for the rest of the 2016-17 fiscal year.
In his budget plan for the upcoming fiscal year, the mayor proposes spending $17.7 million of that revenue on repaving major roadways. This tax bump means that the city will have enough cash to meet the annual funding needs for basic street repairs for the first time in a decade.
Under the same budget plan, Liccardo wants the city to spend some of the tax revenue to hire 41 new police officers. Fire companies that had to cut back will be able to restore two squad car units and pay for the technology to change traffic signals for emergency vehicles.
Also in the proposal: a call to hire 19 community service officers for the San Jose Police Department. These lower-ranking officers respond to burglaries and other low-priority calls to free up sworn officers to deal with more serious crimes.
“This spending plan represents an important step in restoring the services that our residents depend upon most,” Liccardo said. “However, given the uncertainty in future years, we must remain disciplined and prudent in all of our spending decisions.”
The mayor’s budget plan, including the new sales tax spending proposal, will come up for discussion in a public hearing next Monday as well as the next day’s City Council meeting.