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San Mateo County, CA November 5, 2002 Election
Measure H
Utility Users Tax for General Governmental Purposes
City of East Palo Alto

Ordinance - Majority Voter Approval Required

1,290 / 50.2% Yes votes ...... 1,282 / 49.8% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 6 2:34am, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (12/12 0/2 Absentee)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall the City of East Palo Alto continue collecting until November 30, 2006, a utility users tax for general governmental purposes, including police and public safety, parks and recreation, street improvements, youth and senior citizens services; and impose said tax on cellular telephones and similar communications technology?

Impartial Analysis
This measure, if adopted by a simple majority of voters voting on the measure, would accomplish the following:

validates and allows continued collection of the five percent (5%) utility users tax until November 30, 2002.

imposes said utility users tax on cellular telephones and similar communications technology.

The utility users tax, as set forth in Ordinance No. 103, was adopted by the East Palo Alto City Council in February, 1989. Ordinance No. 103 imposes a 5% surcharge on electricity, gas, telephone and water services. Ordinance No. 169, adopted by the City Council in April 1994, extended the 5% surcharge to cable television services.

The utility users tax, which generates approximately $1 million per year, goes into the City's General Fund and is used for general government purposes, including police and public safety, parks and recreation, street improvements, youth and senior citizen services and the like.

This measure would validate the City Council-approved tax and allow its continued collection for the purposes listed above until November 30, 2006, when the tax expires, or `sunsets.' Further voter approval would be required to extend the tax past the `sunset' date.

This measure would also extend the tax to cellular telephones and similar communications technology not currently covered by Ordinance Nos. 103 and 169.

/s/ Michael S. Lawson
City Attorney, City of East Palo Alto

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Arguments For Measure H Arguments Against Measure H
THIS IS NOT A NEW TAX! We've all been paying a utility user tax since 1989. Most cities have a utility user tax. In East Palo Alto, the average family of four pays about $10 per month in utility users taxes. THE UTILITY TAX RATE IS NOT INCREASING. The utility tax provides about $900,000 a year for general services like parks, recreation, and police services.

The Utility Users Tax has been in place for residential and commercial utility customers since 1989. Recently, some court decisions have raised the question whether such a tax is legal if it wasn't put on the ballot and approved by voters. TO BE SAFE, the City is putting the question to the voters.

If Measure H wins, the City will sustain this important income source for four more years, until the end of 2006. By then money from IKEA and the new hotel will be coming in. If Measure H fails, the city will lose at least $900,000 a year. Vote "YES" on Measure H.

/s/ Duane Bay

/s/ Patricia Foster
Vice Mayor

/s/ Donna Rutherford
Council Member

/s/ Sharifa Wilson
Council Member and Former Mayor

Rebuttal to Arguments For
This IS not a new Tax. Making it LEGAL would be new. Taxing Cellular Phones, and Cable, and Fax, and Broadband, and, ultimately, the Internet, THAT would be new. The rate may not change, but if they tax more things, your taxes will go up.

This tax has been illegally in place since 1989. The court decisions the city cites are lawsuits they have lost. This city does nothing "TO BE SAFE"; if they think they can even POSSIBLY get away with something, they go for it, and worry about the law when they are forced to.

The city is short of money, but it's due to mismanagement rather than any missed opportunity to bleed the citizens. They incur lawsuits from unbridled misbehavior; they loan a MILLION DOLLARS to a non-profit for a project that the city doesn't need; they operate the city for profit through a consulting business and bring in development after development, but no money trickles down to the police or other services. We already pay the highest permit fees in the area; don't let them suck more blood to pay consultants and lawsuits!

On November 5, please vote NO! on Measure "H!"

/s/ John Hally

/s/ Everardo Luna

/s/ A. Peter Evans

Measure "H" BEGINS by misleading the public- "Shall the City of East Palo Alto CONTINUE (emphasis added) collecting..." The truth is, the City has been illegally collecting a Utility Tax, and has been forced to put the proceeds in escrow pending this election.

Measure "H" is akin to a robber, apprehended in the act of stealing our money saying, "Oh! Well, can I have it anyway?" The city has stolen our money, is trying to keep our money, and wants us, not only to forgive past trespasses, but to legitimize future confiscations! And that isn't even the worst point!

Measure "H" not only robs our past, but it wants to steal our future. It institutes a tax on Cellular Phones by name, which is offensive enough, but its language extends through Faxes, Cable, and Broadband, the backbone of the Internet itself!

Don't let the City choke off the technological future of our youth! They are building a wall of traffic around us, don't let them put a toll-gate on the Internet!

We urge you to vote to NO! on Measure "H!" Return our stolen taxes! Stop new repressive taxes! Save the freedom of the Internet!

NO! on Measure H!

/s/ John Hally

/s/ A. Peter Evans

/s/ Everardo Luna

s/ David E. Woods

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
THIS IS NOT A NEW TAX! We've all been paying Utility User Tax since 1989. The Utility Tax presently costs only $10 per family per month. This small amount provides almost $1 million a year to pay for general services like parks, recreation, and police services.

The Opponents never say "it is OK to reduce services by $1 million, the city doesn't need the money." Instead they try to confuse you with misleading statements.

The Opponents say this is a new tax on using the Internet. Untrue!

The Opponents imply there is a new tax on faxes and cable TV. Misleading! These things are already covered in the existing ordinance. Yes, cellular phones are being added to the definitions now, but that's because they didn't even exist back when the original ordinance was written!

The Opponents say the tax is "illegal." Untrue!

The Opponents say the City was "forced to put the proceeds in escrow pending this election." Untrue! The city is being cautious because other cities are being sued. A YES vote for Measure H protects the City against such suits.

Don't let the Opponents confuse you. Measure H allows the voters to ratify the existing Utility Users Tax, and thereby protect themselves against the risk of losing almost $1 million in city services if someone (one of the Opponents?) sues the City about this tax.

Vote YES on Measure H.

/s/ Rose Jacobs-Gibson
County Supervisor, Former Mayor

/s/ Barbara Mouton
Former Mayor

/s/ T.R. Roberts
Planning Commissioner

/s/ Alfred LeGrand-Sawyer

/s/ Ida Berk
Planning Commissioner

Full Text of Measure H

Ordinance No. 103, AN ORDINANCE OF THE CITY OF EAST PALO ALTO IMPOSING AN ELECTRICITY, GAS, TELEPHONE AND WATER USERS TAX, as amended by Ordinance no. 169 to impose said tax on cable television, is further amended as follows:


Section 1 of Ordinance No. 103, as amended by Ordinance No. 169, is further amended to read as follows:

"There is hereby established and imposed a utility users tax in the amount set forth in this Ordinance for the purpose of raising revenues for the general governmental purposes of the City. All of the proceeds of the taxes levied under this Ordinance shall be placed in the City's general fund. This tax shall expire on November 30, 2006, and shall not be imposed or levied after said date unless further approved by the voters of the City of East Palo Alto."


Subsection (a) of Section 7 of Ordinance 103, as amended by Ordinance No. 169, is further amended to read as follows:

"(a) There is hereby imposed a tax upon every person with a service address in the City, other than a telephone corporation (as defined by and licensed by the California Public Utilities Commission), using intrastate, interstate, or international telephone communications services including, but not limited to, facsimile transmissions, cable or broadband services, cellular
telephones and similar wireless communications devices or technology. The tax imposed by this Section shall be at the rate of five (5) percent (%) of the charges made for such services, and shall be paid by the person paying for such service. The tax imposed by this Section shall apply to all charges billed to a telephone account having a situs in the City, irrespective of whether a particular communications service originates or terminates within the City."

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Created: December 6, 2002 03:15 PST
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