BY BRADEN CARTWRIGHT
Daily Post Staff Writer
The Los Altos City Council is considering a sales tax or property tax measure to fund a new police station.
On Tuesday (March 8), council will discuss hiring a consultant to put a tax measure on the November ballot. A discussion last week showed the council still has a lot to figure out. Some on council wanted a sales tax, and others wanted a property tax. Whether voters would support the measure and if the council had time to work on this were also questions.
Councilman Jonathan Weinberg, one of two council members on a committee discussing the police building, said there is a sense of urgency to start construction. Interest rates and construction costs are going up, and the existing facility next to City Hall is in poor shape: Police don’t have air conditioning, and the 911 servers are on pallets because the basement floods, he said.
“The longer we wait, the more likely that the city courts catastrophe,” he said.
The building could also be used to house firefighters, because two firehouses need a new roof, a report from Weinberg and Councilwoman Sally Meadows said.
Weinberg and Meadows suggested a property tax to fund construction, but Mayor Anita Enander and Councilwoman Lynette Lee Eng suggested they’d be more likely to support a sales tax. A sales tax would need majority approval, and a property tax would need two-thirds approval.
In 2015, 71% of voters rejected a $65 million bond measure to replace the Hillview Community Center. Lee Eng said some actions taken by council have caused anti-police sentiments, so the tax should be for “public safety,” not police.
“These anti-police sentiments were unwarranted, but they exist in our community. And they’ll hurt the chances of a bond being passed if it’s just for the police department,” she said.
She didn’t specify what anti-police action the council took. The cost of the building is unknown, and therefore so is the tax rate. For comparison, Weinberg and Meadows pointed to the Campbell police station, a simple two-story building that cost about $30 million.