Stockton Mayor Anthony Silva unveiled a crime fighting plan for his city that includes a half cent sales tax increase.
The newly-elected mayor campaigned on an anti-crime platform.
The announcement was made to dozens of community members, business leaders and the media. Silva acknowledged that the timing of the announcement would controversial because the city began its bankruptcy trial in a Sacramento federal court on Monday.
He and his backers say the sales tax would go to a special fund that would be protected from creditors, although a judge has yet to rule on the issue.
Backers of the plan say the tax increase would raise $18 million that would be dedicated to hiring 100 additional police officers and help prosecute crime suspects. Notably absent were other members of the city councils besides Michael Tubbs, who said he came to the announcement after finding out about it on Facebook.
A spokesman for police chief Eric Jones said he was aware that a plan was in the works but was not invited to today’s announcement. He did say he was in favor of efforts to hire more police officers as long as law enforcement and community stakeholders are included in deciding how it can be done.
While supporters say the tax is necessary to attract businesses and families to a city that has a reputation for violent crimes and homicides, the city manager as recently as a day ago was against considering a tax while creditors are arguing in court to collect delinquent payments from the city.
Also a point of contention is that the special tax revenue goes to a dedicated fund that can’t be used for other city services like the fire department, parks and recreation and youth services.
Silva said more discussions with community groups and the city council will take place before the proposal is put before voters sometime between August and November. It must be approved by a two-thirds majority of voters to pass.