Citing the need to renew expiring local funding that helps keep police officers on patrol in Union City neighborhoods, helps maintain response times to 911 calls and other emergencies, and supports youth violence prevention and gang intervention programs, the City Council voted on Tuesday night (November 26) to place a public safety parcel tax renewal measure on the March 3, 2020 ballot.
Sixteen years ago, local voters approved a dedicated source of local funding for public safety in Union City. Over this period, Union City has experienced a 30% reduction in youth violence, similar reductions in property crime and local high school graduation rates are on the rise as students stay on a path to higher education and good jobs.
Over $4 million in annual funding dedicated to public safety services and youth violence prevention in Union City is set to automatically expire in June 2021 unless renewed by voters.
“The community values public safety in Union City. We are committed to protecting those we serve with effective neighborhood patrols, timely response to emergency and non-emergency calls for service, and preventing youth violence in our community,” Police Chief Jared Rinetti said. “The $4 million that Union City receives each year from the public safety parcel tax helps support the core functions of police, fire, and youth and family service programs.”
The funding lost due to the expiration of the public safety parcel tax would be on top of recent cuts to public safety services resulting from the City’s ongoing structural deficit. For example, millions have already been cut from the Union City Police Department budget. As a result, at times, just four on-duty police officers patrol our city of approximately 75,000 residents. Expiration of dedicated public safety funding that Union City has relied upon for nearly two decades would likely result in reductions to the number of on-duty firefighters and paramedics.
“The funds from this measure can only be used to support public safety services in our community and cannot be taken away by the State,” said City Manager Joan Malloy. “Independent financial audits and reports to the community ensure funds are spent properly.”
If approved by two-thirds of local voters, the public safety parcel tax renewal measure would cost the typical residential property owner $168 per year. Businesses and owners of larger properties would pay more. Low income residents would continue to be eligible for an exemption.