Measure K Tax Money Can Be Spent on Anything. Here’s Why.

Pleasant Hill voters are asking how Measure K money can be spent.  Here are the facts.

Measure K is a general purpose tax.  This means it can be spent in any way a future City Council decides.  If voters approve Measure K, its revenues will flow directly into the city’s general operating budget.  There are no legal restrictions on Measure K spending.

Despite these facts, city officials and other proponents seem to be doing all they can to deceive the public.  Voters need to know they’re being snowed.  All the flowery political promises in the world don't change these facts.

The city’s website page includes a link to selective Measure K information.  This website offers one example of how proponents appear to be trying to mislead voters.

Consider:

The proposed sales tax ordinance is written in language that no average voter can readily understand.  The city’s Measure K website includes a link to this ordinance.  However, the language in the City’s resolution is clear.  Yet a link to the resolution is curiously missing from the city’s Measure K website.  See: http://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/index.aspx?NID=1098

The Measure K sales tax ordinance states: 

5.27.030 PURPOSE. This chapter is adopted to achieve the following, among other purposes, and directs that the provisions hereof be interpreted in order to accomplish those purposes: 

A. To impose a retail transactions and use tax in accordance with the provisions ofPart 1.6 (commencing with Section 7251) of Division 2 of the Cal. Revenue and Taxation Code and § 7285.9 of Part 1.7 of Division 2 which authorizes the City to adopt this tax chapter which shall be operative if a majority of the electors voting on the measure vote to approve the imposition of the tax at an election called for that purpose. See: http://www.ci.pleasant-hill.ca.us/DocumentCenter/View/15405

What the heck does that mean?  Evidently, you're not supposed to know without doing your own research.

In contrast, the language in the resolution adopted by the City Council August 1st, placing Measure K on the November ballot, is clear:

WHEREAS, the City Council of the City of Pleasant Hill ("City") is authorized to levy a Transactions and Use Tax ("TUT") for general purposes pursuant to California Revenue and Taxation Code section 7285.9, subject to approval by a majority vote of the electorate pursuant to Article.XIIIC, Section 2 of the California Constitution ("Proposition 218"); and WHEREAS, the TUT is a general tax, the revenue of which is to be placed in the City's general fund and used to pay for important general City services.... 

See:  http://pleasanthill.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&clip_id=1389&meta_id=102214

Voters should know that state law defines what's meant by a “general purpose” tax.  The day after the election, political promises aren't worth, well . . . you already know what they're worth. 

The California Taxpayers Association says Measure K "increases the city's sales tax rate by 0.5 percent for 20 years to fund general city services."  See the Association's summary at this link:

http://www.caltax.org/research/November%202016%20Local%20Taxes%20-%2020160919.pdf

Learn more about general purpose taxes from the State Legislative Analyst’s info page at this link:

http://www.lao.ca.gov/reports/2014/finance/local-taxes/voter-approval-032014.aspx.