ANTIOCH -- Voters will decide in November whether to tax residential landlords to boost city revenues. The City Council agreed this week to put a proposed $250-per-unit yearly business license fee for single-family home rentals, and $150 per unit for multifamily apartments, on the November ballot.
If approved by a simple majority, the measure would also quadruple Antioch's minimum business license tax for non home-based businesses from $25 to $100.
Before Tuesday's vote, the council expressed its frustration with continued objections from representatives for local apartment owners without alternative proposals.
"I believe it's the right thing to do. We need to put it before the voters," Mayor Wade Harper said. "I don't fault the group for vigorously representing their clients, but I vowed to represent the residents of Antioch and to do what's best for the city."
Antioch does not collect a business license tax for single-family homes. Meanwhile, landlords of multifamily units pay the same license fee as other city businesses: $25 for gross receipts totaling up to $20,000; $1.25 per $1,000 for $20,001 to $1 million; and $1,250 plus 20 cents per $1,000 for anything over $1 million. Collection of those fees has been spotty, city officials said.
The additional fees on Antioch's estimated 11,500 rentals could garner about $2.3 million per year -- a significant boost for the city, which has struggled to maintain services and bring in revenue. The city projects a deficit of about $3.3 million in two years.
It would cost about $300,000 to administer the additional tax, officials said.
Several property managers said Tuesday the proposed tax would force them to pay a disproportionate amount compared with others, and that the costs would be passed onto renters.
"Most of the (renters) can't afford an additional $12 to $20 per month. You're going to run a lot of people out of this town that don't have anywhere else to go," said Clifford Gatewood, property manager at the 136-unit RiverStone apartments on Sycamore Drive.
Joshua Howard, a senior vice president with the California Apartment Association, said after the decision that his Antioch members will now meet to discuss their next steps, including a possible legal challenge before the election.
Discussed sporadically the past four years, the idea picked up steam again this spring when civic group Friday Morning Breakfast Club circulated a petition for a $240-per-unit tax.
Resident and local landlord Mark Jordan pointed out to the council that the apartment owners against the measure don't live in the city.
"I live here, just like you do. You know what the town looks like, and you know we have a monetary problem," he said.
Local real estate broker John Canning said the tax would unfairly penalize investors who were the only homebuyers in Antioch several years ago.
"You wouldn't have the tax roll that you have today," he said. "(Those investors) created the environment that brought the homeowners that are buying and moving back into the community."
The Antioch Chamber of Commerce hasn't taken a stand on the landlord tax but opposes the increase in the business license tax. None of its members spoke Tuesday.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.