Council Candidates on Half-Cent Sales Tax (Measure F)

Stay tuned this week as we share answers to your burning questions from City Council candidates. Click "Keep me posted" below for an alert when we publish items related to the November 2012 election.

Stay tuned this week as we share answers to your burning questions from Albany City Council candidates. Click "Keep me posted" below for an alert when we publish items about the election. Don't forget to mark your calendar for two forums in October to help you meet the candidates. See our full Abany 2012 Election Guide here. Have more questions? Comment on individual candidate profiles to ask for more information. 

What are your priorities (within the specified purposes) for using revenues from the proposed one-half cent sales tax, if approved? What do you plan/hope to do for residents? How does it fit into the the grand scheme?


We have cut positions in public safety and in other departments. Fortunately for the city, our remaining employees are giving 110 percent and trying to cover the gaps. Over the long haul, this is not an effective or efficient way to run the city so we need to determine the optimal staff to handle the workload and put dollars to that end. We also need to make sure infrastructure needs are met. More people are trying to walk to destinations within the city, and we need to assure their passage is as safe as possible.


The city ataff presented a summary of responsibilities and activities for which the city lacks sufficient staffing and/or funding capacity, in a Capacity Limitation Report for 2012-13. If the city receives more revenue through the proposed sales tax increase or other sources, I will give that report careful consideration. Public safety is one my top priorities, including filling vacant police positions. Funding our Climate Action Plan to achieve our sustainability goals will also be a top priority. In addition, I will use funds to support and maintain our committed city staff.


First off I want to be very clear that I am against increasing the sales tax. After property taxes, Albany already raises more money from sales tax than anything else in our budget. Sales taxes are regressive and hurt small businesses with fewer/smaller sales more than large ones.

To answer your question, I will devote more energy to attracting and retaining small businesses. Albany must have a vision for how to maintain our small town charm and pursuing large national chains is simply not going to do it.

I will pursue a "complete streets" approach to development and move the process forward that has been in the works for years. Slowing traffic and creating more desirable neighborhoods is of paramount importance to me. [Read more]


Priorities are:

1) Hire new police dispatcher.
2) Repair streets that are getting near critical point.
3) Provide funds for repair of sidewalks (legally, the homeowner’s responsibility) especially if it can be done by replacing big sections at one time.
4) Fill vacant staff positions.

Measure F really doesn’t have specified purposes. That’s why it requires only a simple majority, unlike the county’s measure B1, which is earmarked for transportation uses and therefore requires a 2/3 majority.

There is a lot I’d like to do for residents, like improving cell phone coverage and bringing some rationality to waterfront planning. These don’t necessarily require Measure F funding.


In a recent meeting with the city manager, I discussed such a scenario. I agree with her that covering any possible budget deficit is first priority. Beyond that, restoring cuts in essential city services is very important. Finally, with what is left (it may not be much), I would seek to fund important services for our community, such as those for youth, or seek to cushion the city's budget against future financial turmoil. A good answer will require thorough analysis, which I have not yet done.


So far most residents have been shielded from the city’s budget woes by the dedication and talent of staff and prudent decisions by City Council. But that can’t last forever. We’ve been leaning hard on our staff, so they have been working harder and harder, and retention may become a problem. The income from the sales tax won’t be enough to meet all our needs, but it will help us meet the most pressing ones. My hope is that this sales tax will tide us over until the economy improves and key development projects can begin generating revenue. 

Decisions about the use of this money can only responsibly be made in conversation with city staff. My priorities are to shore up the operations of the city to preserve quality of life and ensure we are in position to take advantage of opportunities that may arise. We need an additional police dispatcher, but beyond that I do not want to commit to any specific use for the money. It’s important for the budget process to be as flexible as possible—we need look no further than Sacramento to see how pre-budget commitments make a difficult process more difficult.


I think that we need to fund the basics first. Emergency services, infrastructure needs (such as roads and sidewalks), and staffing the departments that allow city permits to be issued in a timely manner, etc. Next comes things like Parks & Recreation and senior services. Finally, I’d like to see some progress on some of our Active Transportation and Climate Action goals. I am not sure I have a “Grand Scheme,” but I would like to see more thriving businesses in our Solano and San Pablo Avenue commercial areas. Commercial areas should serve the needs of local residents, be more "walkable," and have less impact by cars. Parking is perhaps the number one complaint that we hear about on Planning & Zoning. The city needs to start the discussion on what changes we can make in our existing parking ordinances to address complaints and move forward.

Click "Keep me posted" below for an alert when we publish items about the election. Don't forget to mark your calendar for two forums in October to help you meet the candidates. See our full Abany 2012 Election Guide here.


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