SAN FRANCISCO Oct 11 Of the 74 local ballot
measures before California voters in November's off-year
election, 47 propose bonds or tax increases, including a sales
tax hike in Stockton needed to help the city exit from
bankruptcy, according to a report released on Friday.
School districts and community colleges are requesting
nearly $375 million in eight bond measures while two healthcare
districts, a recreation district and a fire-protection district
are proposing more than $416 million in bonds, according to the
report provided to Reuters on Friday by Michael Coleman, a
fiscal policy adviser to the League of California Cities.
Five school districts are seeking voter approval for
extending or raising parcel taxes on property while another
eight ballot measures put forward by three cities and five
special districts also would raise or extend parcel taxes.
Voters in 12 cities will be asked to raise sales taxes,
mostly by a half-cent, while 10 other cities have other types of
tax increases on their ballots.
In Stockton, voters face a measure asking them to lift the
city's sale tax by three-quarters of a cent to help pay for the
city's plan to exit bankruptcy and hire additional police
officers to tackle its long-standing crime problems.
Stockton, a city of about 300,000 residents in California's
Central Valley, filed for bankruptcy in June 2012, becoming the
biggest city to do so until Detroit filed earlier this year.
Stockton officials on Thursday filed their plan for
adjusting debts to exit from bankruptcy with the judge hearing
the city's case. The plan assume voters will approve the
proposed sales tax increase next month.
If Stockton's voters reject the sales tax increase, the city
would need to shut libraries, community centers and some fire
department stations to protect police services.
Additionally, without revenue from the tax measure, Stockton
will likely be unable to fulfill proposed settlements with bond
insurers Ambac, Assured Guaranty and National Public Finance
Guarantee, according to a disclosure statement filed on Thursday
with the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Sacramento, California, where
the city's bankruptcy case has been heard.
Assured and National led the fight by Stockton's so-called
capital markets creditors against the city in its bankruptcy
case, contesting the city's threats of forcing losses on
bondholders while leaving pension payments intact, which raised
concerns in the U.S. municipal debt market.
Stockton is leaving its pension payments intact in its plan
to exit bankruptcy. Stockton officials say the city's workforce
has contributed to the restructuring of the city's finances
through deep job cuts and pay and benefit concessions while
retired employees are losing their subsidized health care,
eliminating a massive liability for the city.