Newark officially seeking utility tax

Looks like voters will have more to decide this November than just its city’s leaders. The Newark City Council approved a resolution Thursday to place a Utility Tax on the ballot, a 3.9 percent tax that is projected to raise $2.6 million annually. The tax, which would be applied to electricity, gas, cable, etc., would be implemented for 20 years, but the council can remove it at any time, City Manager John Becker said. I’ll have more on this later in a full-length story, including some points opponents of the tax brought up during the meeting.



  1. When was the last time any tax was voluntarily removed. A baby born today will still be paying this tax when they are in college. 20 years is longer than my recently refinance home loan. Who came up with this 20 year length. The consultant that did the survey never went past 9 years and was focused mostly on 2, 3 or 5 years of length. You would be nuts to vote for a 20 year tax. nonewarktax@yahoo.com

  2. Newark is a strange place. Economically it is collapsing. Sun Microsystems, bio techs have all left Newark. There industrial vacancies are high, there commercial vacancies are high, Newpark Mall is in Bankruptcy.

    The Mayor has been in office for approximately 30 years. The incompetence of the Mayor and people running Newark is well known. Yet, the people of Newark keep electing them, so they deserve what they got.
    The utility tax they are proposing is the results of there incompetence. Go ahead Newark, re elect Mayor Smith!

  3. Say, $150/mo average for PG%E, 110 for cable/internet and 40 for phone = 300 x 0.039 = $11.70 per month and 140.4 per year. According to simplyhired.com who ref’s gov salary data, average household income in Newark is $69,350.

    This is on average a 0.36% tax increase on Newark residents.

  4. So the average user will pay perhaps $12 per month. That is $144.00 per year. That is $2,880 over 20 years. That is not the point. Why 20 years? Will we need these funds after a 3-5 year period? Recovery is supposed to happen.

    If at the end of a 3-5 year period, if we still need this tax, at that time, they could ask the voters for an extension just like other cities do. If as Fremont_Bill states is true (and I think he is pretty close to the mark) why do we give them more money to use for their incompetence.

    Newark needs to find out why all these businesses are leaving the City in droves. Once again, Fremont and other cities are drawing businesses away from us. The mayor’s insistence on a golf course has hurt the city as he has blocked development that would of occurred.

  5. Dean, don’t get me wrong. I think a 0.36% tax increase is substantial. Especially compiled with the statewide 1% sales tax increase. And be aware that these taxes require equal contribution across all income levels.

    I imagine the guy who lost his job who needs gas/electric at a minimum and likely internet and phone for the job hunt will see that $11.70 eating into the trip to Target to buy shoes for his kids, or a force him to remove a few items from the cart at Food Max.

    U-6 unemployment implies that 1 in 5 are unemployed or underemployed, so my above scenario will be realized by many.

  6. The thing that makes me mad is that the City is not telling the voters the whole truth. This is the wording they approved for the ballot measure.

    To prevent severe cuts to critical Newark services, including: police officers, firefighters, paramedics, 911 response times, crime, gang and drug prevention
    programs; fixing potholes and streets, street sweeping, code enforcement, maintaining street medians and parks; funding youth and senior services; and
    preserving other general City services, shall the City of Newark establish a 3.9 percent utility users tax, exempting low-income seniors and requiring annual
    financial audits? YES / NO

    Right after the 3.9 percent utility users tax, they could have inserted “for a period of 20 years” and the voters would have been told what was really happening.

  7. Actually, the tax simply goes into the general fund to be spent on whatever whim the city council has in mind next.

    We all love the Silliman recreational center; unfortunately most of Newark can’t afford to go there. The city should have built the pool areas, and left it at that. Instead, we wound up with a pool and an elaborate recreational complex that people tell me they’d love to use but it costs too much.

    A season pass for Aqua Adventure in Fremont, covering May 23, 2009 until Labor Day 2009 costs $70.00 for a non-Fremont Resident. Union City charges $3.00 for a one time pool entry or $50.00 for a twenty swim pass for recreational swimming.

    As a Newark resident, at Silliman Center it costs $7.50 for one pool admission, $90.00 for twenty admissions, or $137 for a three month pass.

    Obviously, we don’t do our swimming in Newark and we live here and pay taxes!

  8. Utility tax it needs to be called a

  9. If they win this election, by the time 20 years pass, they will feel that they are entitled to it. If they had been reasonable, say for 5 years at 4.5% even, then they would have been acting regarding the current down-turn. For 20 years, they certainly have something else in mind. No wonder citizens no longer trust government and the incompetence of their actions.

  10. Newark needs to build ANOTHER mall! Add a Walmart too! You should get what you deserve. What a cultural desert Newark is! I’d shoot myself before moving there!

  11. Will cell phones and the Dish also be included in this tax? Im not sure we received a straight answer on this and it is not clearly documented by the city. Only water will not be taxed. Does anyone know? If cell phones and the dish are included, this will be a VERY burdensome tax. If so, this will be something alot of Newark youth would be interested in!

  12. @e-citizen: Per City Manager John Becker, cell phones will be taxed, satellite dish will not.

  13. @Ben Aguirre: Thank you! In your article it would be great if there was a list of all the items that will be taxed (and could be taxed) in the 20 year period – so that there is total transparency.

  14. I have a strong feeling that Mayor Dave is a golfer. I am going to tell everyone I know in Newark about this 20 year tax, even on cell phones. We are being BAMBOOZLED!

  15. Yes, Mayor Dave is a avid golfer. He wants to turn wetlands and wild life habitat at the end of Stevenson into a Golf Course and McMansions.
    He needs more money to make this happen, so…..

  16. Several years ago, when Newark formed citizens committees to work on updating the general plan, called Project 2007, we tried to get areas of the city zoned and planned for housing. One area is the large parcel of land where Ohlone College now sits and the vacant land to the south. The owner, John Sobrato wanted it zoned for residential and so did the citizens committees. But no, Mayor Dave insisted on it being zoned for high tech as he felt sure that Silicone Valley “North” was going to happen in Newark. It never did and today, he will not re-zone the land until Mr. Sobrato provides a golf course in that very wetland mentioned above. Who wants to live on the other side of the railroad tracks out where the wrecking yards are and in the area to the south. I wouldn’t purchase a McMansion out there with such a magnificent view of the Durham Land Fill.. Would you?

  17. There is a new Wednesday August 5th City Council Meeting tomorrow to discuss making changes to the already approved Utility Tax proposal. Looks like they are planning to make the tax 6 years vs 20 years.

  18. http://www.insidebayarea.com/argus/localnews/ci_13708367?source=rss

    And – for the date on which BANG ceases hosting the above link, here’s the text of the article – – –

    Newark Measure L: Utility users tax loses by slim margin
    Oakland Tribune
    Posted: 11/03/2009 09:46:44 PM PST
    Updated: 11/03/2009 11:58:04 PM PST

    Newark city leaders placed on the ballot a 3.9 percent utility users tax to be affixed to almost all utility bills for six years. Officials estimated the tax would have generated $2.5 million annually. A simple majority was needed for the measure to pass and the tax to be collected beginning in January.

  19. As of now, no leads by 8 votes. I am told by a Newark staff member that there are somewhere around 450 uncounted absentee votes and 50-70 other uncounted votes, probably provisionals from polling places.

  20. http://www.insidebayarea.com/oaklandtribune/localnews/ci_13722601?source=rss

    Newark’s Measure L utility tax defeated by 10 votes
    By Ben Aguirre Jr.
    Oakland Tribune
    Posted: 11/05/2009 03:52:52 PM PST
    Updated: 11/05/2009 03:52:52 PM PST

    NEWARK — Measure L, the city’s proposed utility users tax, has been defeated by 10 votes.

    The tally released this afternoon shows that 2,354 residents voted for the measure, but another 2,364 voted against the tax, which would have added a 3.9 percent charge to almost all utility bills in the city.

    All the ballots have been counted, but the election will not be certified until later this month, after officials conduct a normal 1 percent audit of all ballots, said Guy Ashley, a spokesman for the Alameda County Registrar of Voters.

    City Councilman Alan Nagy, who was re-elected on Tuesday, said the result of measure’s rejection by voters will be a loss of jobs.

    “The city is going to lose a lot of good people because of this,” he said. “It’s really sad.”

    Dean Lewis, a member of the group opposing the measure, was nearly speechless when he saw the results.

    “It’s very apparent the city is divided on this; it’s really incredible,” Lewis said.

    Lewis and Nagy both said close races like these show the importance of every vote.

  21. There will be a “recounting” of the Measure L votes on Monday at the Registrar’s Office in Oakland. It’s as it should be with such a close election. Thanks to Ben Aguirre for keeping us all up to date on this issue.

  22. “The city is going to lose a lot of good people because of this,”

    Why not just pay them less?

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