A story incorrectly reported the Antioch Chamber of Commerce's position on a proposed tax measure on residential landlords and local businesses. The chamber opposes an increase in the minimum business license tax for businesses that are not home-based from $25 to $100, and has not taken a position on a proposed $250-per-unit yearly fee for single-family home rentals and $150 per unit for multifamily apartments and condominiums.
ANTIOCH -- Asserting that owners of rental properties should pay their fair share, city leaders this week moved to place a tax measure on residential landlords and local businesses on the November ballot.
The City Council agreed Tuesday night on a proposed $250-per-unit yearly fee for single-family home rentals and $150 per unit for multifamily apartments and condominiums.
The proposal would also increase Antioch's minimum business license tax for businesses that are not home-based from $25 to $100.
The council will consider formal adoption of the initiative in June.
"This is the right thing to do. This is a fairness for all the citizens of Antioch and all the businesses because it does benefit everybody," Councilman Tony Tiscareno said.
The landlord tax proposal has been discussed sporadically the past four years, including last year when the council held off placing it on the ballot.
It picked up steam again this spring, as the civic group Friday Morning Breakfast Club circulated a petition for a $240-per-unit tax.
Earlier this month, City Manager Steve Duran met with the Breakfast Club group and California Apartment Association on alternative solutions, but no progress was made.
A handful of the apartment representatives spoke against the proposal, saying the fees hold them as financial hostages for providing citywide services.
Joe Lawton, property manager of the Village at Park View apartments on Gentrytown Drive, said the fee would be about $20,000 for the owner of the 85-unit complex.
"This will mean the maintenance for (roof and parking lot) repairs will be less. It's regrettable. Property owners are the scapegoat here," he said.
California Apartment Association officials say the tax change would result in thousands of dollars in lost property taxes.
Antioch does not collect a business license tax for single-family homes. Meanwhile, landlords of multiple-family 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 more than $1 million in gross receipts. Collection of those fees has been spotty, city officials said.
A couple Breakfast Club members spoke in favor of the city's proposal, saying it closes a loophole.
Resident Hans Ho said he has to pay a similar fee for rentals he owns in other cities.
"(The city's) plan is equitable, it is fair, it will raise revenues. Put it in perspective; you're talking about $20 a month. We spend more than that at Starbucks every week," he said.
Gerald Lenhart, a lifelong resident and local business owner, was among those who argued that the extra costs would likely be passed on to tenants.
Duran said rents would only increase slightly if the extra fees were passed on to apartment tenants.
"That's the tough thing here. Everybody is talking about how much (apartment owners) are paying and not about how much they are making," Duran said.
Chamber of commerce CEO Sean Wright said his members haven't taken a stand on the landlord tax but oppose the increase in the business license tax. That fee has not changed from $25 since the 1960s.
It is estimated that additional landlord fees on Antioch's estimated 11,500 rentals and the additional business license tax could garner about $2.37 million per year -- a significant boost for the city, which has struggled to maintain services and bring in revenue.
Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164. Follow him at Twitter.com/paulburgarino.