Increase to Hayward sales tax set to appear on June ballot

Yousuf Fahimuddin,

Just before midnight, the city of Hayward unanimously supported the passing of a proposition to increase the city’s sales tax a half-cent. This will appear on the June 3 ballot, which will raise it to 9.5 percent.

According to the staff report, this tax would generate approximately $10 million in revenue per year exclusively to the city, which it states, “could not be taken by the State.” The tax would be in effect for 20 years.

This tax would cover the same goods that are subject to the sales and use tax, with certain items exempt such as food groceries, prescription medication, some medical devices, sales to the U.S. government and items purchased with food stamps, the staff report states.

A community survey called the 2014 Revenue Measure Feasibility Project, measured what Hayward residents think are priorities for the city.  Out of the 3,443 people surveyed, 31 percent said they want to “restore police officer positions for neighborhood police patrols.”

The other top choices in order were to restore maintenance worker positions in order to repair infrastructure in the city, to replace and upgrade the Hayward library, to upgrade fire fighter facilities, and to increase neighborhood graffiti and trash removal.

In response to the survey, the city is proposing using the increase in revenue from the tax to purchase approximately ten new police officers, a new library center, improvements to the fire station and a new training center at Fire Station No. 6, street repairs and hiring back five maintenance workers for the city.

The staff report estimates this would use $8.9 million of the estimated inflow of $10 million from the proposed tax increase.

Surrounding cities have similar sales tax rates. San Leandro has a sales tax of 9.25 percent, and Union City has a tax of 9.5 percent.

The proposed tax increase comes just weeks after the city of Hayward voted to pass a 5 percent pay cut on city workers. The city stated they made the cuts because it would help “shore up” the city’s long-term finances.

According to The Daily Review, clerical workers’ pay was cut by almost $400 a month and maintenance workers’ wages by about $325 a month.

Commenting on the budget cuts, The Daily Review reports that Councilmember Marvin Peixoto said, “It’s unfair to pass this down to our children. We can no longer kick this down that road.”