Eureka City Council moves forward on Measure O extension: Tax to be placed on November ballot

After hearing public safety officials, private citizens and nonprofit leaders speak in favor of Measure O, the Eureka City Council directed staff to move forward with putting a measure that would extend the city's increased sales tax on the November ballot.

"I support this action and would like to encourage staff to carry on and to place it on the November ballot," Councilwoman Linda Atkins said. "I was here when we had the nonexistent budget that we had to work with and it was painful. It was very painful to watch our city just kind of go down the toilet essentially because we just didn't have enough money."

The Supplemental Transaction and Use Tax, which adds 0.5 percent onto the city's sales tax after it was passed by voters in 2010, will sunset on June 30, 2016 if it is not extended by voters.

The $11.6 million in generated revenue has been used to preserve public safety programs, including 13 fire and police positions, and to fund neighborhood wellness and community enhancement projects, previously cut maintenance programs and deferred maintenance of city facilities. It also is expected to fund about $4 million in general fund expenditures in the 2013-2014 fiscal year.

"This is vital money," Eureka police Chief Andrew Mills said. "This is the difference between being able to just barely manage calls for service and being able to be a little bit proactive."

Sequoia Park Zoo Foundation President Chuck Dominick said the tax has allowed the city to address public safety and quality of life.

"This has made a tremendous difference for the city of Eureka," Dominick said.

Now that the council has directed staff to move forward with putting the tax on the ballot, staff will work to provide the public with information so that voters can make an informed decision on election day.

The council also voted unanimously to reject two traffic claims that allege the city has been negligent with its design and maintenance of city streets.

One claim was filed on behalf of the family of Margaret Sanders, who was hit by a van driven by Richard Lester, 78, and killed while crossing Fourth Street at the intersection of Fourth and K in an electric wheelchair in June. The claimants sought an unlimited civil case.

The second claim stems from a December 2012 car accident that happened at the intersection of I and Del Norte streets. The claimants, William Shaun Taylor and William Austin Taylor, sought an unlimited civil case after being sued for negligence in a separate claim by plaintiff Patricia Seher.

The Taylors claim the city is responsible because the design, operation and management of the intersection caused Seher's injuries.

The rejections follow the usual practice of the city's insurance policy, and the city's insurance provider will now be forwarded the claim for appropriate action.

The council will meet again on Jan. 21 for its regularly scheduled meeting.

Lorna Rodriguez can be reached at 441-0506 or Follow her on Twitter @LornaARodriguez.