By Steven Tavares.
A ballot measure allowing the City of Alameda to clean up language in its current Utility Users Tax is becoming the epicenter for a growing schism between Mayor Trish Spencer and city staff.
Last week, Spencer, who opposes the measure now labeled the Utility Modernization Act, defied the rest of the City Council and staff and penned a ballot argument against the initiative.
Now, Spencer has written an additional rebuttal to the argument in favor written by the city. The rebuttal reiterates her initial ballot argument–criticizes the measure for raising taxes and suggests its proceeds will be used on employee salaries and pensions, and not city services.
In the rebuttal, Spencer also attacks the city manager and includes a link to a website that features the salaries and pensions of state and city employees, including Alameda.
“After I voted against Measure__, I believe the City Manager retaliated by falsely accusing me of wanting to bankrupt Alameda and canceling my meetings with City Staff,” wrote Spencer. “To the contrary, I vote against fiscally irresponsible long-term employee contracts and lack of full disclosure to taxpayers. The City must be transparent and honest with voters, make fiscally sustainable decisions and not create undue tax burdens.”
The ballot measure does not raise taxes, says the city, and is intended to update the city’s existing Users Utility Tax (UUT) to include modern technologies, such as cellphones. The UUT has not been updated since 1970, the city adds.
Currently, depending on the cellphone carrier, not every Alamedan is paying the tax. In addition, the measure hopes to affirm as a tax, an annual $3.5 million transfer from Alameda Municipal Power to the city’s treasury. If the measure is not approved, says supporters, the city risks losing $5 million a year to its general fund.