Updated Oct. 12, 4:10 p.m.
The Sacramento chapter of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People is the first large organization to come out against Measure U, the one-cent sales tax proposal on the city ballot this November.
In a statement on Thursday, president Betty Williams questioned whether revenue from the tax would go toward communities of color and low-income residents, as Mayor Darrell Steinberg and others have said, or if it would pay of city debt and obligations.
She wrote that city leaders are trying to generate revenue and balance their budget “on the backs of working families who already struggle to survive economically.”
Voters approved Measure U in 2012 to pay for parks, public swimming pools, libraries, and police and fire positions. The tax currently generates nearly $50 million a year to the city’s general fund, much higher than the $25 million that was originally projected six years ago.
The half-cent sales tax is due to expire next March. The city is proposing a full cent to pay for police, fire, parks, and social programs.
“At best, less than half of the new Measure U money could be used as advertised,” Williams wrote, adding that promises it would be spent on affordable housing, job development or homelessness is “disingenuous, because city budget projections are filled with red ink for years to come due to excessive salary and pension obligations.”
The local NAACP chapter opposes the full-cent Measure U renewal tax, but wrote that it would support an extension of the half-cent tax as passed in 2012, if it were to be put on a ballot next spring.
On Friday CapRadio spoke with Derrell Roberts, who is black, and the CEO of a non profit Roberts Family Development Center. Responding on behalf of the Yes on Measure U campaign, Roberts said he believes the increase in tax dollars will help poorer communities.
"Without new revenue coming into our city in the future, I don't see how things are going to change as it pertains to investment, specifically in our neighborhoods where our youths are most at risk where they live and where they go to school,” he said. “(Measure U can also fund) creative ideas that can assist our children in being safe, staying off the streets, learning employment skills, things like that."
The Roberts Family Development Center has received funding from the half-cent Measure U tax that passed in 2012.
Editor's note: CapRadio requested comment from the Yes on Measure U campaign Thursday, but did not receive a response before publishing. The story has been updated to add their response.
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