There are other things on the ballot El Cerrito residents need to pay attention to. Contra Costa County is trying to pass a .5% sales tax increase. El Cerrito currently has a sales tax of 9.75% so this would make our city sales tax 10.25% at a time when our economic development is very poor and our businesses are suffering. In general, sales taxes are considered regressive because they impact lower-income families at a much more substantial rate than higher-income families.
This sales tax is not earmarked and will used to increase the general fund. So while I have heard proponents of this tax claim it will increase services for the unhoused and for mental health services there is no evidence that will happen. We have just seen the County Supervisors approve 25 new Sheriff’s officer position and money to improve the Martinez jail. In a time of a de-fund, the police movement it seems a different solution might be to use some of that money to fund social workers to deal with the mental health issues that the Sheriff’s officers are not trained to deal with. in the Mercury Times article linked to below Supervisors were claiming they had to fund these positions to improve mental health conditions. Some of the initial funding comes from federal funds but after the first six months, the county taxpayers will pay for those positions. The one mental health position is at a cost of almost $300,000.
We are in a very tough economic time right now and the County will also need more financial resources. The question to ask yourself is that is a sales tax the best way to fund the county and do you trust the county to use additional monies for the issues/services that you deem most important?