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Most likely to succeed

Submitted by on 1, July 16, 2008 – 7:45 amNo Comment

Well folks, it looks like one thing’s a lock for the November ballot: A request from the City Council to increase the property transfer tax – paid by buyers and sellers when a home or other piece of property changes hands – from $4.50 (ed. note: It’s $5.40 – thanks Lena T) per $1,000 of a property’s purchase price to $12. The increase could raise about $5 million a year for the city.

As we explained the other day, the council passed a budget a few weeks ago, but they’re looking for additional revenue solutions to deal with what they anticipate will be ongoing budget shortfalls. They hired a polling firm to ask voters about whether they’d approve a parcel tax, maintenance assessment or increase in the transfer tax, and the latter solution was apparently the only one of the three that could pass.

Here’s the gist of the council’s conversation: It’s the apocalypse, people. The city has cut $9 million total from its budget for this past year and the one coming up, and they’re expecting more financially choppy times ahead. If they don’t get more cash in hand, they will need to cut services like police and fire. They could close all the libraries, and that wouldn’t even be enough to fix the problem. They could consider raising the sales tax, but let’s face it, there aren’t enough stores on the Island for people to shop at to make that work because everyone has a fit when someone tries to put one here (including the council, which is apparently considering a ban on big box stores, according to the Journal). If we’re not careful, we could turn into broke-a** Vallejo. And do you have any idea how difficult it is to concentrate on this stuff when there are so many videos of totally hot Doctor Who star David Tennant on YouTube? (Okay, I added that last part.)

Rob Platt of the Alameda Association of Realtors said his members are against the tax increase because it’s an excessive burden on people buying and selling homes, and he said his group plans to vigorously oppose it. That didn’t sit well with folks on the council, who wanted to know where the hell Platt was when they were making this year’s round of painful budget cuts and whether he had any other ideas to help balance future budgets. Another member of the realtor’s group pointed out that with the originally proposed increase to $14.50, the tax would add a total of around $13,000 to the cost of a $900,000 home in his East End neighborhood.

The council also okayed a list of charter amendments for the November ballot, which is here, and bid a sad adieu to the city’s chief financial officer, Juelle-Ann Boyer, who is retiring on August 1. You can read all about her accomplishments here.

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