Tom Butt for Richmond City Council The Tom Butt E-Forum About Tom Butt Platform Endorsements of Richmond Councilmember Tom Butt Accomplishments Contribute to Tom Butt for Richmond City Council Contact Tom Butt Tom Butt Archives
  E-Mail Forum
  Investing in Richmond with Measure Q
October 28, 2005

Measure Q is a voter initiated amendment to add an additional ˝% to the City of Richmond Transactions and Use Tax Ordinance (sales tax). Over six thousand residents of Richmond signed petitions for this measure aimed at providing an improved level of vital city services. Eight of nine City Council members signed a letter supporting placing it on the ballot.


Richmond has huge challenges ahead, including over $200 million in deferred maintenance of  streets, one of the highest homicide rates in the country, a rented City Hall that costs over $1 million annually while the 55-year old former City Hall sits unused because of seismic safety deficiencies and the need to restore the venerable Richmond Plunge, closed for the last four years and almost burned down by squatters only last week.


These challenges will require inspired management, extraordinary leadership, innovative solutions and perseverance to overcome, but they will also require more money than we have available now – lots more. Simply put, that is why I plan to vote for Measure Q. I am committed to bringing Richmond to the forefront among Bay Area cities, and if we are going to get there, we all have to increase our investment in this city.


We have heard all kinds of excuses why we should not make this investment. “We’ll have the highest sales tax in the (fill in the blank) county, state, or world.” “The bureaucrats and politicians will waste it.” “People of limited economic means can’t afford it.” “It will discourage new businesses from locating in Richmond and adversely impact existing businesses.” “Someone else (industry, business, the government, or rich folks) should  pay for it.” “We can make up the difference by cutting out the fat and being more efficient.”


Thirty years ago, before Proposition 13, Richmond was awash with money and built parks,  community centers and branch libraries. Now we can’t afford to maintain and operate them. The Richmond General Fund lent tens of millions of dollars to the Redevelopment Agency and to the Port. The Redevelopment Agency loan was paid back largely over the past two years, and that is what we have used to balance the budget. There is no inheritance left to support even the meager lifestyle to which we have become accustomed.


Well. I figure that no one else is going to save us. We either look out for ourselves, or we look the other way. I can’t buy the theory that some Richmond resident is going to drive to another city to save 50 cents on a $100 purchase. Even the IRS allows $0.405/mile for automobile cost. Who in their right mind would drive two miles round trip to buy something in another city and incur a cost of 81 cents to save 50 cents?


Sales tax is not regressive. It does not apply to essentials like food, housing and utilities. Unlike some other types of taxes, much of it will be paid by outsiders spending money in Richmond.


It is also important to remember that there is a constitutional limit on local sales taxes that we will reach if Measure Q passes. That will pre-empt the ability of the county or any special district that includes Richmond to impose a tax increase for its other purposes.  If that happens, it won't apply in Richmond. Instead, our sales tax revenue will stay right here in the community, working to make Richmond a better, safer place to live and to do business. If Measure Q fails, a county or special district tax could be successful in imposing the same increase, with the money going out of our community for other purposes.


As a voter, this is your choice to make a contribution and to designate the recipient. If you turn this down, please think twice next time you complain about crime, potholes, diminished library hours, closed community centers, slow police response and unresponsive City government. If you pass it, I can guarantee you that I will go to the mats to see that you get the government you deserve.