Sales & Use Tax Measures V & W

On July 28th, 2015, the City Council held a special meeting to discuss extending the City's current transaction and use tax former known as Measure X prior to its scheduled expiration in 2017 as well as seeking voter approval for an additional 3/4% supplemental tax. The measure extending the City's current 1% transaction and use tax has been designated as Measure V. The Measure proposing a supplemental 3/4 % transaction and use tax for 5 years is designated as Measure W.

Both measures will be on the November 3, 2015 ballot and are of critical importance to public safety and the quality of life in Greenfield.
As described in Resolution Number 2015-48 (PDF), the City has cited 12 specific justifications for the extension of Measure V which includes the fact that 99% of all current sales tax dollars have been redirected to hire and retain police officers to keep the community safe from crime and violence. Ordinance Number 511 (PDF) will repeal the current transaction and sales tax sunset clause and allow for an indefinite expiration date. For information concerning the argument in favor of the measure, read Resolution Number 2015-49 (PDF).

Resolution Number 2015-50

The City also approved Resolution Number 2015-50 (PDF), designated as Measure W, calling for an election to ask voters to approve a supplemental 3/4 % sales tax as well. The resolution adopted by the City lists 6 factors that justify this supplemental tax including service needs in the police department, recreation and code enforcement. Ordinance Number 512 (PDF) would adopt this new tax and set forth the process of its administration by the State Board of Equalization. Resolution Number 2015-51 (PDF) is the written argument in favor of adopting Measure W The resolution explains that with the proposed new revenue, the City will be able to increase law enforcement service which is clearly an expressed need in the community. Currently, the City provides approximately 1.1 officers per 1,000 residents; however, the national standard for West Coast cities the size of Greenfield is 1.5 officers per 1,000 residents. To begin to reach this national standard, an additional 4 officers will be hired, at a cost of $340,000 per year for pay and benefits. The City will also approve a new pay plan to ensure our officers stay in Greenfield protecting and serving our residents.

Decision to Vote

The decision to seek voter approval for both Measure V and Measure W was not made without extensive discussion and study by the City Council and Administration. On June 9, 2015 the City Council approved the fiscal year 2015 - 2016 and fiscal year 2016 - 2017 Biennial Operating and Capital Budget which will allow the City to better plan and manage its financial resources. One of the most important issues acknowledged by the City Council is that the City does not have diversified base revenue that has kept pace with the increased cost of government (See the 2013-14 Property Data Report (PDF)). Based on the City's current revenue sources, the City Council and Finance Advisory Board both recognized that current revenues are not sufficient to provide quality services to the community.

Prior to preparing and adopting the fiscal year 2016 budget, the City commissioned a revenue option study (PDF) that also recommended adopting other revenue sources including a property transfer tax, parcel tax, increasing local business license tax and increasing the City's Utility User's tax. The current business license tax is a flat fee of $40 per year and has not been changed in 40 years, when it was last adjusted in 1975. While the City is considering modernizing its business license tax ordinance, simply adjusting the rate to account for the passage of time - in essence, setting it at the same level when it was adopted but adjusting it for inflation, would generate an additional $81,000 annually. Greenfield's current Utility User Tax is only 3%. Statewide, for those 154 cities that levy utility user taxes, the average rate is 5.5%. At 5%, utility user tax Greenfield revenues would increase by about $176,000 annually.

While the City Council acknowledged the merits of adopting new revenue sources and revising the methodology used to calculate other City fees and charges, (i.e. business licenses), the consensus was to proactively seek voter approval for extending the current 1% General Transaction and Use Tax (Measure V) that was approved by Greenfield voters on June 8, 2012 (Measure X) and set to expire in 2017. Additionally, the Council also agreed on the importance of seeking approval for Measure W, a supplemental 3/4% General Transaction and Use Tax Measure, in November to provide supplemental funding for public safety, code enforcement and recreation in Greenfield. The decision to seek voter approval of Measure V and Measure W is consistent with 88 other cities in November 2014 who also requested voter approval of special local taxes. Based on a report published by the League of Cities entitled "Local Revenue Measure Results, November 2014," (PDF) 62 of these measures passed.

Approval of Measure X

Since approval of Measure X in 2012, the City has struggled with the effects of violence due to gang activities and a variety of criminal conduct in the community. In an effort to become more proactive in addressing this public safety concern the City Council approved allocating 100% of all Measure X funding to restore police staffing and services in the Police Department. The fiscal year 2015 - 2016 and fiscal year 2016 - 2017 Biennial Budget allocated $1,090,600, the entire projected Measure X General Transaction and Use Tax, to continue funding 6 officers approved prior to 2015 and an additional 3 officers in fiscal year 2016. Any future increased revenue in transaction and use tax revenue generated by Measure X will fund 2 existing School Resource Officers after grants from the Department of Justice expire over the next 2 years.

Given the limited growth of general revenue and property tax in the City and the $2,294,200 currently allocated for police services in the General Fund, if voters do not approve Measure V, the City would have no identifiable revenue source to replace the $1,090,600 to pay salary and benefits for these 9 Police Officers. There is simply not enough non-Police discretionary spending in the General Fund to replace Measure X. In this respect, revenue generated by Measure X has been instrumental in preventing the absolute reduction of services to the Police Department.

Allocation of Other Resources

Finally, because the City has had to redirect all the revenue generated from Measure X General Transaction and Use Tax to fund current and future operating cost in the Police Department, the City has not been able to allocate any financial resources to offer recreation programing to Greenfield youth. Most young people continue to complain that "there is nothing to do" in Greenfield. This absence of healthy accessible and available recreational programing in Greenfield has substantially contributed to so many young people turning to local gangs to participate in typical group activities. Hiring qualified recreation staff to develop new recreational programing, and maximizing the underutilized recreational assets in the community, is estimated to cost $150,000 to $250,000 per year

Over the next three months, the City will be providing additional information about both Measures V and W and encourages all community groups to discuss the both measures. For additional information about these measures, or to request a speaker from the City to discuss city services, please contact the City Manager