ALAMEDA -- Voters rejected a ballot measure Tuesday that would have raised the city's sales tax by a half-cent to help pay for a new fire station, community swimming pool and a multipurpose sports field.

Measure C failed to win the two-thirds majority needed to pass and secured just over 50 percent approval.

Yes votes totaled 5,816, while no votes were 5,748 after all 45 precincts reported, according to the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

In the wake of the defeat, the City Council will hold a special meeting at 7 p.m. next Tuesday at City Hall to review what the result means for the city's budget for this upcoming fiscal year.

Supporters said Measure C was essential for public safety since the money would have gone toward a new fire station and help replace aging police and fire vehicles, as well as pay for a new Emergency Operations Center that first responders could use during an earthquake or other major disaster.

The measure also would have helped pay for a new 50-meter swimming pool and multipurpose sports field, plus fund a second elevator at the main branch of the Alameda Free Library.

Opponents said the projects were not necessary and that raising the sales tax would discourage shoppers and so undermine business, especially in the current economic slump.


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While the city is projected to face at least a $5 million shortfall annually over the next five years, California law prevents any money that would have been generated from the tax increase going toward the general fund since it would have been considered a "special" tax.

Instead, the money could have only gone toward equipment, building upgrades and other specified uses. Measure C was expected to generate about $1.8 million annually. The City Council voted unanimously during a special March 7 meeting to place it on the ballot.

The city of Alameda's current sales tax is 8.75 percent, the same as all other Alameda County cities except for San Leandro with 9 percent and Union City with 9.25 percent.

If Alameda voters had approved the half-cent increase, city officials were hoping to secure about $15 million in bonds against the new tax, money they said would have put the new swim center and the other projects on a fast track.

Reach Peter Hegarty at 510-748-1654 or follow him on Twitter.com/Peter_Hegarty/.