Measure S Suisun city's 1 cent sales tax

Suisun City's beautiful waterfront didn't always look this way.

In 1988, we were voted the worst community in the Bay Area. Drugs, crime, a dilapidated waterfront - that was the heart of our hometown.

That is, until community leaders, residents and business leaders began a $65 million redevelopment project downtown.

An ongoing revitalization effort funded through redevelopment monies, making Suisun City the hidden gem we all know today.

The revitalization of our community went well beyond the waterfront. Assets to make our neighborhoods strong.

The new Joe Nelson Community Center was built.

The Suisun City branch of the County Library system came to be. A joint project between the city, former redevelopment agency, school district and county.

Along with the new Lambrecht sports complex, updated Senior Center and, among many other community assets, tons of new walking and biking paths.

Amazing, right?!

Suisun City is on the move!
But then the Great Recession came. Followed by the State Governor taking away redevelopment - the single most effective tool for smaller communities, like Suisun City, to keep moving forward with the revitalization of their hometowns.

Development downtown was stalled for over two years as Main Street West, our master developer, was tied up in lawsuits with the State - all the result of the elimination of redevelopment.

Worse, the State denied the repayment of a $1.75 million loan due the City from the former Redevelopment Agency.

This $1.75 million State take-away makes up nearly 15% of our general operating budget of $11 million. Money used for providing services to residents, businesses and visitors.

So how did Suisun City respond to this perfect storm of events?

We did what other cities across the State did. We slashed our work force by 20 percent. We lost three police officers or nearly 15% of our sworn staff, reducing investigations by half and eliminating our traffic unit. We cut one of only three street/maintenance crews. We combined eight departments down to six. Recreation services hung together with a team of part-time staff, including the director. All service areas were negatively impacted.

All services have been impacted negatively by the recession and State take-aways.
The budget fall out: How does Suisun City compare to other cities?

Suisun City receives $255 per resident in sales, property, hotel and other taxes. In California, the average is $792 per resident. Our $255 is not only significantly less than the statewide average, but lower than all of the other six cities in Solano County.

Worse, Suisun City receives only $652 per resident in total revenue as compared to an average of $2,208 for all cities in California. In Solano County, Suisun receives less than one-third to one-half of what the other six cities in Solano County receive.

Why are the financial challenges so great in Suisun City?

Being a bedroom community off the I-80 corridor, it's hard to attract the shopping centers, auto malls, outlets and other tax generating businesses seen in Fairfield and Vacaville. The traffic counts along Highway 12 don't begin to compare with I-80, which major retailers look for in making their business decisions. The result for us is a limited tax base with 70% sales tax leakage to other area communities.

The last four years, the City has experienced status quo budgets. On the good side, status quo is better than the slash and burn budgets of the prior three or four years. But on the bad, we haven't been able to make up virtually any of the 20% cuts resulting from the recession and State take away of redevelopment.

Over time, status quo means losing more ground as the cost of doing business increases. A slow decline backwards. Like after interstate 80 bypassed Suisun City in the sixties, leading us to 1988...

Things aren't completely hopeless. Suisun City has unique development opportunities tied to the waterfront, train depot and a Special Planning Area east of Walters Road, but these projects won't happen overnight.
This November, with Measure S on the ballot, residents have two choices:

1. Continue the path of providing what services we can tied to revenues available.

2. Increase the sales tax by 1-cent for ten years, to start adding back services lost since the recession and the State's take-away of redevelopment.

The City Council unanimously placed Measure S on the ballot so that Suisun City residents can decide which path to take.

Measure S is a one-cent sales tax measure, in place, for ten years. It is estimated to generate $1.8 million annually, increasing the City's general fund by roughly 15%, which will allow us to reinstate some of the vital services lost during the Great Recession and State take-aways.

What type of services are we talking about?

Services that make neighborhoods safer including rapid 9-1-1 response; neighborhood police patrols; youth crime/gang prevention; fire prevention and protection; fixing potholes; maintaining city streets and streetlights; maintaining city parks and street trees; and other vital services.

For more information including the Measure S ballot measure, arguments for and against, and rebuttal arguments, check out the link below to our education site - "Measure S - Get Informed". Or call 707-421-7300. Our city manager, police chief, fire chief and other departmental staff are happy to answer individual questions. We are also available to meet with neighborhoods or other groups interested in learning more.

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