SAN FRANCISCO — After trailing in election-night counts, a sales tax measure in Vallejo, Calif., meant to help the beleaguered city restore services has mounted a comeback in late vote tallies to take a slim lead with ballots left to be counted.
Despite trailing by a slim margin after election day, Measure B, a 1-cent sales tax hike, was leading as of Tuesday by 71 votes — 8,979 to 8,908 — according to the Solano County registrar of voters.
The registrar’s office said officials still need to count 1,000 provisional ballots from throughout the county, which is time intensive, and to re-scan hundreds of poorly marked ballots. A final tally will be released next week.
Any new revenues would be a boon to the financially strapped San Francisco Bay Area city, which just exited bankruptcy this month after three years of Chapter 9 protection. The city is trying to follow a long-term fiscal blueprint that was adopted as part of the plan to exit bankruptcy. The 10-year sales tax is projected to bring in $9.8 million annually by raising the total rate collected in Vallejo by all jurisdictions to 8.375% from 7.375%.
Aside from the $12 million cost of bankruptcy, the city has also struggled during the recession with a double-digit drop-off of sales and property taxes, which make up half of revenues in the $65 million general fund budget.
Over the past four years, Vallejo has cut 33% of its staff. Measure B supporters say the additional revenue can be used to help restore some of the city services that were damaged by the bankruptcy, including public safety and youth programs.
The working-class city, which has a population of about 120,000, filed for bankruptcy in May 2008 after three years of budget deficits caused by dwindling tax collections and what officials called unsustainable labor contracts.
It is the largest municipal bankruptcy in California since Orange County’s in 1994.