LWV League of Women Voters of California
Smart Voter
San Joaquin County, CA November 5, 2002 Election
Measure Z
Utility Tax Cut
City of Stockton

Ordinance Change - Majority Approval Required

16,260 / 37.2% Yes votes ...... 27,444 / 62.8% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 6 2:34am, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (190/190)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Should the voters approve an ordinance change that would amend Chapter 8, Part VI of the Stockton Municipal Code to reduce the current eight percent (8%) utility tax rate to two percent (2%), effective July 1, 2003?

The City estimates that Measure Z, if adopted, would result in an annual reduction in general fund revenue of approximately $25 million. The general fund pays for City services such as police, fire, parks, libraries, public works maintenance and improvements, and general City services.

Impartial Analysis from the City Attorney

The City of Stockton received a certified initiative petition circulated by proponents Ralph Lee White and Diane Probasco to place Measure Z on the November 5, 2002, ballot. The voters are asked to consider amending Chapter 8, Part VI of the Stockton Municipal Code to decrease the existing Utility User Tax from its current rate of eight percent (8%) to a rate of two percent (2%), commencing July 1, 2003.

This petition to decrease the tax rate was circulated pursuant to article XIIIC, section 8, subdivision (b), of the State Constitution, the State Elections Code, and the Charter of the City of Stockton. The petition, as circulated, had a commencement date of July 1, 2002. On August 14, 2002, the Superior Court of San Joaquin County ruled that the Measure, as drafted, was unlawful as a retroactive tax reduction and the court ordered the Measure reformed to have a prospective commencement date of July 1, 2003.
The court further directed the City Council to place the Measure on the November 5, 2002, ballot.

On March 26, 2002, the Stockton City Council adopted Ordinance 015-02 C.S. amending chapter 8, part VI of the Stockton Municipal Code to provide for an eight percent (8%) tax on user of telecommunications, electricity, gas, water, and video services provided in the City, through June 30, 2004. Commencing July 1, 2004, this tax rate will be reduced one-quarter percent (1/4%) annually through June 30, 2011. Beginning July 1, 2011, and thereafter, the tax rate will be six percent (6%).

Measure Z would amend Chapter 8, Part VI of the Stockton Municipal Code to reduce the current eight percent (8%) tax rate to two percent (2%), effective July 1, 2003.

The City estimates that Measure Z, if adopted, would result in an annual reduction in general fund revenue of approximately $25 million. The general fund pays for City services such as police, fire, parks, libraries, public works maintenance and improvements, and general City services.

If you desire a copy of Measure Z, please call the Stockton City Clerk's office at (209) 937-8459 and a copy will be mailed to you at no cost.

  Official Information

City of Stockton

Suggest a link related to Measure Z
Links to sources outside of Smart Voter are provided for information only and do not imply endorsement.

Arguments For Measure Z Arguments Against Measure Z
A vote for Measure Z is a vote to reduce the exorbitant 8% utility tax by 6% to a reasonable 2%. This tax is discouraging new businesses from moving to our city and encouraging heavy utility users to relocate.

Millions were collected during the resent electricity shortage, creating a windfall profit of the City. Eight percent of $300 is a lot more than eight percent of $100. That surplus disappeared into the general fund. Without making the City Administration accountable to the taxpayers, this will happen again and again if the citizens don't hold them accountable.

Stockton has the highest utility tax rate on electricity, gas, telecommunications and cable television in the four county region have the highest utility tax rate on our citizens, more than Oakland, Anaheim, and Bakersfield.

Because our utility tax rate is so high, Stocktonians lose jobs and expanded business opportunities. High unemployment rates increase our crime and welfare rates.

All of us pay the utility tax at home on basic necessities: water, electricity, natural gas, and telephone services. This regressive tax hits those least able to pay. The poor, unemployed, elderly and people living on fixed incomes.

Most cities provide essential services to their citizens without taxing them, but, at a City Council meeting, the Mayor (who opposes Measure Z) stated, that more than 100 policemen and 70 plus firemen would lose their jobs, libraries and parks would have to close, as well as other essential city services would have to be cut way back. Either he has grossly exaggerated this to scare people into voting his way or the cities with no utility tax, are doing a much better job at managing their money.

Vote YES on Measure Z to reduce this exorbitant and unfair utility tax from 8% to 2%.

Submitted by:

/s/ Diane G. Probasco /s/ Ralph L. White /s/ Gary Stallworth

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Vote No on Measure Z # a careless proposal to reduce the Utility User's Tax by 75%, thereby reducing our General Fund by $25 million. This loss would return Stockton to a time when crime and unemployment were high and our quality of life was low. We've made great improvements in the last ten years # lets keep Stockton moving forward.

The Utility User's Tax is one of a number of taxes Stocktonians pay which contribute to our General Fund. Per capita, Stockton residents pay less in taxes than the average of eight other cities (Sacramento, Oakland, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Stockton, Fremont, Huntington Beach, and Modesto).

As the result of an agreement with the Chamber of Commerce, the City Council has approved a plan to gradually reduce the utility tax. This plan is dependent upon replacing the loss of this revenue with another source of revenue.

Using revenues generated by the utility tax, the City implemented neighborhood policing and utilized community service officers and school resource officers to take a proactive approach to lower the crime rate and improve our lives. We attracted new commercial and industrial businesses to employ residents and increase spending. By doing this, sales volumes are increased enough to reduce our dependency on the utility tax.

Many of the attributes we promote to attract businesses would be jeopardized if Measure Z is passed.

Vote No on Measure Z # Keep our neighborhood policing, Class 1 Fire Department, parks, youth activities, library system. Keep Stockton moving forward.

Submitted by:

/s/ Gary Podesto, Mayor /s/ Gary S. Giovanetti, Councilmember /s/ Leslie Martin, Councilmember /s/ Duane Isetti /s/ Douglass Wilhoit, Chamber of Commerce CEO

Vote No on Measure Z. This initiative would reduce the City's Utility User Tax by 75%, from an 8% to a 2% rate, creating a loss to the General Fund of $25.5 million.

In March, Stockton voters rejected Measure I, which would have reduced the Utility User Tax by 25% (from 8% to 6%), forcing the elimination of 58 police officers and 27 firefighters.

Measure Z will affect many more vital City programs. It will close libraries, local parks, a community center and swimming pool, and reduce key services # three times as many as Measure I. About 250 full time positions would be cut, 72% in public safety (124 Police Department positions and 55 Fire Department positions).

Community Service Officers and School Resource Officers who work hard to prevent crime # not just react to it # would be cut. To ensure that we keep police patrolling our streets and working in our public schools with at-risk youth and gang resistance programs, we need the utility tax funding that Measure Z would cut.

The Fire Department would have to cut one of its three ladder truck companies and two engine companies. This reduction would greatly increase the time to respond to emergency calls and cause the City to lose its "Class 1" status.

The City's status as a "Class 1" fire department is attractive to businesses who embrace the reduced insurance rates and residents who enjoy the increased protection we all receive. Losing that ranking will affect our ability to attract business. Loss of new development = Loss of Jobs.

In short, Measure Z will send Stockton back to a time when crime and unemployment were high and our quality of life was low. Let's not turn back the clock # keep Stockton moving forward.


Submitted by:

/s/ Gloria Nomura, Vice Mayor /s/ Larry Ruhstaller, Councilmember /s/ Edward S. Chavez, Chief of Police /s/ Carl Eck, Dep. Fire Chief /s/ Donna M. Brown, Deputy City Manager (Retired)

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
The signers of the argument against measure Z are all receiving stipends, fees, salaries or retirement from the City of Stockton. It's difficult to consider their opinion as unbiased.

The City has choked the general fund with millions in windfall profits realized from the increase in utility cost over the last two years. Now, they feel they are entitled to these excesses on a continuing basis and want to scare you into believing your police and fire protection will be reduced and the other citizen services will cease.

No mention has been made of reducing other cost. Only cost punishing the citizens for being so bold as to vote against giving them more money.

They say there will be a loss of jobs when we have already lost thousands of jobs to cities with lower taxes and better attitudes and services.

They are using a standard scare tactic that has worked very well in the past. They want to scare you into doing what they want. They refer to the low quality of life prior to the exorbitant increases in the utility tax. We see nothing wrong with going back in time when crime was high but every crime was contested and counted, not just priority crimes and unemployment was high, but we had numerous quality employers, not just chain store and absentee employers.

Make the city live on a realistic budget like you do.


Submitted by:

/s/ Ralph L. White /s/ Diane G. Probasco /s/ Gary Stallworth

San Joaquin Home Page || Statewide Links || About Smart Voter || Feedback
Created: December 6, 2002 03:15 PST
Smart Voter <http://www.smartvoter.org/>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund   http://ca.lwv.org
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.