SAN LEANDRO -- The school board and the City Council each have placed measures on the Nov. 2 ballot in the hopes that the city's voters will support tax increases. While the school board unanimously endorsed the city's Measure Z, the City Council has tabled its support of the school district's Measure M, pending a review of the matter by the city's rules committee.
Measure Z is a quarter-percent sales tax increase that would raise the city's sales tax rate from 9.75 percent to 10 percent if passed by 50 percent plus one of San Leandro voters. The city has been running budget deficits that have resulted in staff reductions and service cuts, so officials hope the quarter-percent increase will add an estimated $4 million a year to its general fund for the next seven years, when the increase is set to expire.
Measure M needs 55 percent approval to pass. It would raise property taxes in San Leandro by $25 per $100,000 of assessed property value to finance a $50.1 million bond that will pay for various physical improvements to the district's schools. Most notably, $16.1 million would go to build a sports complex at the aging Burrell Field where San Leandro High School's teams play. About $6 million would pay for a new swimming pool at the high school.
On Monday, the City Council was expected to endorse Measure M, but Councilwoman Joyce Starosciak, who is running for mayor, pulled the issue off the consent calendar, pointing out that a council guideline advises against taking positions on items that the city has not co-authored or co-sponsored. The council voted 4-3 to table the item until the city's rules committee can review the guideline Sept. 28.
On Tuesday, the school board voted 7-0 to endorse Measure Z. Before the vote, Councilman Jim Prola, who voted against tabling the council's endorsement of Measure M, told the board that Starosciak's motion to table it was "strange."
Prola pointed out that he and Mayor Tony Santos are on the rules committee and guaranteed that he would vote to endorse Measure M if the item came back to the council at its meeting Oct. 4.
Prola told the board that if Measure Z does not pass, the city would be forced to eliminate a school resource officer, a fire truck and nine firefighters, and recreation programs. He said the Mulford-Marina and Manor branches of the library might close, as well as city swimming pools.
"Measure Z and M are both about protecting and maintaining the type of community that we want to live in," he said.
School board trustees all spoke in favor of Measure Z. Board President Mike Katz-Lacabe called the sales tax increase "regressive," but said that he supported it because it was best for the community, and best that the board and council work together.
Jason Sweeney covers San Leandro. Contact him at 510-293-2469. Follow him at Twitter.com/Jason_Sweeney.