Alameda is considering raising its sales tax by half a percent for the next thirty years, and it’s a question that will go before voters on the June Ballot. The additional revenues, estimated to be about $1.9 million would go for specific purposes, but the main focus is public safety.

The money would not be enough to overcome the immediate budget deficit facing the city of $4.4 million, but it will allow the city to issue $15 million in new bonds to finance large scale construction projects that include a new emergency operations center, library, and swimming pool. The $15 million bond would cost $29 million to payoff over the life of the bonds, when interest is calculated.

However, the measure is not without controversy, as opponents question its timing and necessity. The special tax must receive two-thirds support from voters. If approved, the city’s sales tax would increase to 9.25 percent.

From the East Bay Express:

In a time of dwindling city revenues, austerity, and the end of the cash cow that was redevelopment, cities are continuing to explore ways to plug gaping budgetary holes and raise cash for projects. Alameda — struggling with a $4.4 million budget deficit and a public safety infrastructure that officials say is obsolete, decrepit, and unsafe — is asking voters to approve a half-cent (0.5 percent) sales tax increase this June to safeguard the city against emergencies. But the tax increase is pitting the political establishment and the firefighters union against a group of residents who are crying foul at what they consider to be a gift of public funds to the money-flush union that has donated generously to local politicians.

Read the full article here.