Measure P, a proposed half-cent increase in the city’s sales tax, required a 50 percent approval to pass, but lost 47.95 percent to 52.05 percent. The money raised from Measure P would have gone to Antioch’s general fund, mainly aimed at helping – but not guaranteed to go to – the cash-strapped police department.
Devi Lanphere, president and CEO of the Antioch Chamber of Commerce and an opponent of the measure, said that many voters didn’t have faith that the money would go to its designated place.
“At least we have our strong tax base,” Lanphere said. “We didn’t cripple the businesses that give the taxes to the city.”
Lanphere said that other ideas out there, such as a parcel tax, enjoyed more support and might have passed. Despite the serious problems facing the city’s police force, Measure P inspired little confidence in Lanphere and other opponents of the tax increase.
Opponents also worried about the impact of Measure P on local businesses, as people might have shopped elsewhere to pay cheaper prices. “Nobody was willing to take that risk,” said Lanphere.
Proponents of Measure P insisted that if Antioch is to chip away at a deficit of roughly $4 million and stop the trend of police layoffs, strong action must be taken. At a recent City Council meeting, Antioch Police Chief Jim Hyde warned that if the economy worsens, vital services could be cut back.
Hyde said Wednesday that now that Measure P has been defeated, he’d meet with his staff to prepare a plan for the future. While he couldn’t yet say exactly what cuts would be made, he mentioned that some jobs might be lost.
“We’ve been delaying a bit on some more cuts, just to see what would happen on Measure P,” Hyde said. “Now we have the answer to that.”
As election results trickled in on Tuesday night, council candidate Wade Harper was closely monitoring not only his own race but that of Measure P. As a lieutenant with the Tracy Police Department, Harper empathizes with the plight faced by Antioch cops. He noted that a similar ballot item in Tracy, raising sales tax by a half cent, won by a healthy margin, receiving 57.69 percent of the vote.
“I wanted it to pass,” said Harper, whose place on the City Council had been decided by the end of the evening and who will be charged with deciding what to do next. “Are they going to be able to respond to calls like accidents on private property or accident calls when you want an officer? What did the community say in not passing Measure P? They want us to live within our means.”