The following Letter to the Editor was submitted by Josh Young
There is not a moment in my childhood where I don’t remember Antioch, California being a place I can play, hike, swim, fish or explore. My mother’s family has historic roots, creating jobs and opportunities for people. With its beautiful views of rolling hills, vast delta water space and marshy ecosystems. Antioch was a beautiful town.
Antioch is not as I remembered it.
Unfortunately, Antioch, California has transformed into a city with under performing schools, crumbling roads and infrastructure, blight, increased homelessness and worst of all it is a city were criminals can perpetrate their acts nearly undetected by law enforcement before it’s too late.
In 2013 the City of Antioch passed Measure C with asked voters to increase sale tax so that the city can employ more Police Officers to directly reduce crime throughout the city.
The city was to raise an estimated $13,000,000 for policy and public safety services. In addition, in 2014 the city asked voters to vote on Measure O. Measure O authorized the city to adopt a residential landlord business license tax based on the type and number of units and confirmed the existing gross receipts business license tax with an increased minimum tax level. I am unaware of the actual revenue Measure O brought Antioch as of to this point. However, its purpose was to pay for over $3,000,000 in budget deficits not pick up by Measure C for 2016/2017 fiscal year.
In 2018, Antioch once again came to voters asking for more funding. This time it was Measure W, A yes vote was a vote in favor of authorizing the city to renew a one-cent (1.0 percent) sales tax on retail sales to fund emergency programs and essential services. To maintain Antioch’s fiscal stability, police patrols, 911 emergency response, youth violence prevention programs; ensuring water quality/safety; repairing streets; cleaning up parks/illegal dumping; restoring youth after school/summer programs; other essential services; shall the measure be adopted approving an ordinance to renew the sales tax at the one-cent rate, raising approximately $14,000,000 annually, expiring in twenty years, with mandatory annual independent financial audits, and independent citizens oversight.
As you can see, residences in Antioch are interested in strong crime reductions, removal of blight, and a community that could thrive on commerce and open for business.
However, Antioch has a major problem. Antioch is on the brink of financial disaster. As of February’s budget report, Antioch has over $161,000,000 in unfunded liabilities, with an even more potentially disastrous medical liabilities potion of the CALPers program. This is Antioch’s largest debt. The city doesn’t own enough assets to pay for its debts, nor does it have enough ongoing cash-flow to address the debt outside of the pay as you go option (Pension Payments), so, Antioch keeps increasing taxes to provide services.
Now the City Staff is recommending hiring a 3rd economic development director and reassigning the Assistant City Manager role to a Public Information Officer to assist in social media and marketing publications for over $137,000!!!
Really?! The city is grossly in debt and now it wants to create 2 new positions that at a time Antioch really can’t afford.
What Antioch should do is take a long hard look in the mirror, then look at all the faces of the youth in our communities and ask itself, “in the next 10, 15 or 30 years, am I creating a thriving community full of opportunity, or I am destroying the future of our city.”
A separate trust fund should be created and while Antioch is experiencing an increase in tax revenue, monies should be allocated for saving for when or if the next economic downturn hits our nation.
Antioch cannot simply be ok with spending money just because it has it. Antioch must be fiscally responsible and our leaders must be held accountable. This is the time to save and make debt reductions, not create social programs or positions the city can’t afford.
As my father always told me, don’t spend money you don’t have, don’t get into debt and get on a budget that will last you a lifetime of gain and not a lifetime of pain.
The Antioch City Council should NOT approve the City Staff approved budget in its current form.
Please show up Tuesday, February 26th to the Antioch City Council meeting and express your concern. Your voice matters.
By Josh Young