Voter Approved Funding
Voter Approved Funding for Essential City Services
Over 15% of Union City’s General Fund revenue that supports essential services like rapid 911 emergency response, paramedic services, fire protection, emergency planning, street and pothole repair and services for youth, families and seniors comes from local tax measures approved by Union City voters.
Measure AA, a half-cent sales tax measure first approved by 60% of local voters in 2010 and renewed by 73% of local voters in 2014, provides approximately $5.5 million annually to the city to “prevent severe cuts and maintain essential services such as police, fire, paramedic, library, streets, parks and other services.” In addition to local residents, the voter-approved sales tax is paid by anyone who visits or shops in Union City. Unless renewed by voters, this funding will automatically expire in 2025.
Measure WW, a 5% utility users’ tax on electricity, gas, video and telecommunication services, was approved by 57% of local voters in the November 2020 election. It provides an additional $5.5 million each year to “protect essential city services including senior citizen support and meal programs during COVID-19 crisis and recovery, 911 emergency and paramedic response, street and pothole repair, fire protection, disaster and health crisis preparedness, youth violence prevention and drug intervention programs, and other city services.” In addition to local residents, the Unless renewed by voters, this funding will automatically expire in 2028.
Did you know that less than 20 cents from every dollar local residents pay in property taxes comes back to Union City? Only about 15% of the local sales tax dollars we pay come back to Union City. The rest goes to the state, the county and other local districts. State and federal funding for cities is very limited and unpredictable. The voter-approved sales tax and utility users tax provide locally controlled revenue that cannot be taken away by the state or other agencies. 100% of the funding from these voter approved funding sources stays locally to protect essential services in Union City.
Over the past decade, the increasing cost of providing city services has exceeded the growth in available revenue to pay for services. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, Union City was facing an annual budget deficit of more than $3 million. The pandemic’s disruption of business activity further reduced city funding making deep and devastating budget cuts to every city department likely. The city made tough decisions including reductions to public safety, eliminating community policing and school resource officers, a hiring freeze on all nonessential positions, reducing library hours and utilizing limited emergency reserves. These actions in combination with the community’s approval of the voter approved sales tax and utility users tax have enabled Union City to achieve a balanced budget that preserves essential city services for residents. More detailed information on the Union City budget is available here.
Purchases of essential items like groceries and prescription medicine are exempt from the voter approved sales tax to ensure it is not a burden to seniors, people with disabilities or others on fixed incomes. This exemption for essential purchases is automatically applied at the point to sale to qualifying items. No application is needed to qualify for this exemption.
The voter approved utility users tax provides a full exemption from the cost for seniors and low income residents. This exemption requires an application to qualify. To learn more about the exemption or apply for the exemption, click here.
Fiscal Accountability and Oversight
The two local revenue measures approved by a majority of Union City residents over the last decade require the city to maintain an oversight committee comprised of local residents to ensure funds are spent properly and as promised. These measures also require the city to conduct annual independent financial audits of all funds generated by the measures, which can be found here .
For efficiency, the City Council appointed a single oversight committee to oversee proceeds from both revenue measures. The oversight committee is comprised of one representative from each of the city’s Human Relations Commission, Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Senior Commission and one citizen member at-large. Oversight committee members will serve two-year terms and meet every six months to ensure funds are being spent to maintain service levels in accordance with the City Council's adopted budget. The committee will report its findings to the City Council annually.
The members appointed to serve the current two-year term are:
- Ray Gonzalez, Jr. from the Planning Commission
- Estrelita Munsayac from the Senior Commission
- Daniel Rivera from the Parks and Recreation Commission
- Kashmir Singh Shahi from the Human Relations Commission
- Robert Singer, Citizen Member At-large
Oversight committee meetings agenda, minutes and reports will be published and archived here:
Regular Meeting on July 19, 2021: