The City of Union City’s local ballot measure, Measure WW, has been approved by voters in the November 3, 2020 general election. The results from the election were certified by the Alameda County Registrar of Voters and confirm that Measure WW, a 5% utility users’ tax, has passed with 56% of the vote. The measure needed over 50% of voter approval to pass.
A milestone was achieved with voter turnout with 32,486 people voting out of the 40,884 registered voters in Union City. A total of 17,301 votes were casted in support of Measure WW.
The utility users’ tax will be levied on electricity, gas, video and telecommunication services and is expected to take effect in Spring 2021. Funds from Measure WW will provide about $5.5 million in additional funding that can be used to preserve essential city services. Senior and low-income residents are eligible to receive exemptions from the tax and the City is currently developing an application process for eligible residents to receive this exemption. To stay informed on updates to the application process, visit www.unioncity.org/measureww..
Measure WW was placed on the ballot after a City Council ad hoc sub-committee explored revenue options for the city, and a budget study session that revealed an approximately $11 million budget deficit over the next four years. This significant revenue loss is partly attributed to the impact of COVID-19 on sales tax revenues, hotel tax revenues, parking revenues, and other revenue sources. In addition, the City anticipates significant revenue loss with the upcoming expiration of two voter approved measures -- public safety parcel tax in June 2021 and a half cent sales tax in April 2025. With the voters’ support of Measure WW, it will replace funding that was coming from the public safety parcel tax when it expires soon.
Measure WW is part of an ongoing effort by the City Council to address a long-term structural General Fund deficit, which is the Council’s top priority in their five-year strategic plan. In recent years, the City has cut millions of dollars from its budget resulting in major service reductions to public safety, parks and street maintenance, recreation services and administration.
In addition to approving the results of the election, the City Council heard a presentation at last night’s Council meeting, about the City’s financial outlook now that Measure WW has passed. While the news of Measure WW’s passage is a major short-term relief, the City still anticipates a significant drop of revenue when the half-cent sales tax expires in April 2025. With the loss of the half-cent sales tax, the City’s structural deficit will grow significantly and put the City services at risk.
Mayor Dutra-Vernaci expresses:
“We want to thank Union City residents for supporting Measure WW. Funds from Measure WW allow us to continue providing COVID-19 relief programs, preserve youth violence prevention and intervention programs offered by our Youth and Family Services, and keep our community clean and safe for everyone to enjoy. While Measure WW will save these essential city services from being eliminated today, we still have challenges to address. We invite you to join us in our work to build long-term fiscal sustainability.”
To receive updates about the City’s work in building fiscal sustainability, you can sign up to receive email updates at: www.unioncity.org/e-newsletter.