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November 8, 2016 — California General Election

City of Oakley
Measure E - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


4,294 votes yes (32.95%)

8,737 votes no (67.05%)

100% of precincts reporting (18/18).

14,516 ballots counted.

Utility Users Tax
— undefined

To maintain and enhance essential City services, such as fire protection and emergency medical response services, shall an Ordinance be adopted to enact a three and one-half percent (3.5%) utility users tax on electricity, water, sewer, gas, and cable television to raise approximately two million dollars on an annual basis?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Contra Costa Registrar of Voters

    Measure E asks whether voters of the City of Oakley wish to pay a utility users tax of 3.5% on electricity, water, sewer, gas, and cable-television services. A utility users tax is a tax levied on each user of a utility within the City’s boundaries.


     Measure E was placed on the ballot by a unanimous vote of the Oakley City Council. If approved, the utility users tax would generate about $2 million in new tax revenues annually. These revenues would go into the City’s general fund, which would mean they could be spent for any public services the City provides.

     Measure E requires approval of a majority of voters (more than 50%). A “Yes” vote means the voter favors the City collecting the utility users tax; a “No” vote means the voter does not favor the tax being collected.

     A companion measure on this ballot, Measure G, asks Oakley voters whether they desire that revenues from the utility users tax (if approved) be spent to enhance fire and emergency medical response services within their city. If Measures E and G both pass, voters would effectively request that the Oakley City Council each year allocate the utility users tax revenues to fire and emergency medical services. If Measure E passes, but Measure G does not pass, the utility users tax would still be collected; however, voters would effectively express an intent that the City Council use the tax revenues for services other than fire and emergency medical response.

     If voters approve Measure E, the utility users tax would be collected by utility service providers and computed on the basis of monthly usage and service charges. The tax would not be imposed on schools, special districts, the City, or any party that would be exempt from the tax under federal or state law. Low-income households (which would be defined based on income thresholds to be established by the City Council) would also be exempt from the obligation to pay the tax.

     Measure E requires formation of a citizen review board, appointed by the Oakley City Council, to recommend how utility tax revenues should be expended and to monitor such expenditures. If tax revenues are used for
fire service, Measure E directs that the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD) reimburse any persons that live within the Cypress Lakes Community Facility District for any annual fire tax or assessment they pay.

     Measure E also contains a “sunset” clause. It directs that if the share of property taxes to the ECCFPD is increased so as to provide that District additional funding for any services the utility users tax covers, the City Council shall repeal the tax.

Derek P. Cole
City Attorney

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Vote YES on Measure “E” to maintain services critical to Oakley and the surrounding communities.


Measure “E” could provide much needed funding to address a CRITICAL crisis we are experiencing with fire services in East Contra Costa County. Existing funding for the Fire District is only able to open and operate 3 fire stations, covering 249 sq. miles, putting you and I, and our loved ones, in great danger. A recent master plan analysis indicates that we need at least 9 fire stations in the District to provide a basic level of fire and emergency medical response services.

The current limitation of having only 3 stations open has resulted in response times that are over 12 minutes! This is completely unacceptable and more stations are needed to serve our community. The American Heart Association’s scientific position is that brain death and permanent death start to occur in 4–6 minutes after someone experiences a heart attack. Studies show that a person’s chances of survival are reduced by 7%–10% with every minute that passes without defibrillation and early support intervention. Few attempts at resuscitation succeed after 10 minutes.

Measure “E” and Advisory Measure “G” will bring relief to this crisis situation and they need your support in order to protect our community – please vote YES.

Meghan L. Bell, Oakley resident, mother, special-needs advocate, and community volunteer.

— Contra Costa Registrar of Voters

Arguments AGAINST

This measure purports to fund the East Contra Costa Fire District (ECCFPD), but does not even mention the district, nor does it bind or legally require the City to fund the ECCFPD. This regressive Utility User Tax:


  • Will impose an average household tax of $200 to $400+ and business tax of up to $1000 or more annually; it is clearly unaffordable for many residents.
  • Is a general purpose “slush fund” tax for the City of Oakley, masked on the bills of the targeted utilities – cable television, electricity, gas, water and sewer.
  • Will generate revenues that will be deposited into the CITY OF OAKLEY GENERAL FUND for any use the city determines is necessary for its own needs.
  • Will not force the city to negotiate a promissory agreement with ECCFPD nor annually fulfill its promise to fund the Fire District; the fire district’s budget forecasts will be unreliable.
  • Is designed to avoid the 2/3 vote requirement of other tax measures tried in the past by the ECCFPD, which failed.
  • Will burden all residences, businesses, non-profits, and other types of organizations within the city, damaging the economy.
  • Will be dependent on the city’s financial condition, and on the city council’s judgment and desire to satisfy their own perceived needs before it funds the fire district.
  • The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association strongly recommends a NO vote on this tax.

Contra Costa Taxpayers Association,
Harold E. Bray, East County Chairperson
Contra Costa Taxpayers Association,
Jack Weir, President

— Contra Costa Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments FOR

There is no question that the East County fire district is in financial trouble. Because of low property tax revenues, the district has closed stations and reduced staff. Emergency response has dropped to unsafe levels. However, the proposed utility user tax (UUT) is not the answer.


When the district was formed years ago, its service area was mostly orchards and cropland, and a low property tax rate was sufficient. However, as the area has grown, property tax rates have not kept pace, and the district now is allocated about half the average provided to other fire districts in the county.

A utility user tax to fund general services like fire emergency is a bad approach. Under state law, UUT revenues must go to the city’s general fund, and the city council may, at any time, direct those funds as it wishes. The fire district needs a more predictable source of funding. Also, district property owners already pay for fire service with their county property taxes, and should not be double-taxed.

The East County Voters for Equal Protection group ( has developed a plan that will reallocate county property taxes more responsibly, and will provide more substantial and reliable funding, without contributing agencies having to cut budgets or reduce services. These agencies, the county, cities, schools, etc., need adequate emergency response, and should be able to manage reallocation without undue difficulty. Only the political will to do what is equitable is needed.

CoCoTax urges a NO vote.

Contra Costa Taxpayers Association,
Jack Weir, President

— Contra Costa Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The argument against this measure completely ignores the crisis situation we are all in with a lack of adequate fire and emergency medical services.


  • Depending on usage, a household could have a tax less than $30 per month to support fire and emergency medical services – much, much less than potential increases in homeowner insurance due to the lack of fire protection.
  • The utility user tax is NOT a “slush fund.” Revenues used to protect the lives and properties of citizens should never be considered as such.
  • Advisory Measure G and a citizen review committee would guide the use of these funds. Measure G specifically calls for the funds to be used for fire protection and emergency medical services.
  • The East Contra Costa Fire Protection District needs these revenues to expand department resources to meet the needs of our community and will use them to provide the critical emergency services we are lacking.
  • This utility user tax requires a simple majority plus one vote to pass.
  • Without these new revenues, every person, visitor, and business in the community is placed at tremendous risk.

Please vote YES on Measure “E” to protect our families.

Meghan L. Bell, Oakley resident, mother, special-needs advocate, and community volunteer.

— Contra Costa Registrar of Voters

Who supports or opposes this measure?

Yes on Measure E

Organizations (1)

Elected & Appointed Officials (0)
No on Measure E
Organizations (0)
Elected & Appointed Officials (0)

More information

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