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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
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City of Brentwood
Measure Z - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results


8,988 votes yes (39.13%)

13,979 votes no (60.87%)

100% of precincts reporting (30/30).

25,460 ballots counted.

To maintain and enhance essential City services, such as fire and emergency medical response, shall an Ordinance be adopted to enact a utility users tax on telecommunications, electricity, gas, and cable television phasing in over two years (3% in 2017 and an additional 3% in 2018, for a total of 6%) to ultimately raise ongoing funding of approximately $6.1 million each year?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Contra Costa Registrar of Voters

The Brentwood City Council has unanimously voted to put Measure Z on the November 8, 2016 ballot. The measure asks voters to approve an ongoing tax on electric, gas, telecommunication, and cable utility services.

 Under State law, the proceeds of the proposed utility user tax (UUT) may be used for any general municipal service, including fire and emergency medical response.

If approved by a majority of Brentwood voters, the UUT will be three percent (3.0%) in 2017 and six percent (6.0%) in 2018 and future years. The UUT is expected to ultimately raise $6.1 million a year.

The UUT is calculated on the monthly utility use in the City of Brentwood. For telecommunication service, the UUT applies to the place a phone is primarily used, typically the billing address. The UUT is collected by utilities on utility bills, and then paid to the City.

The UUT does not apply to water, sewer or trash services; vehicle fuel; or solar power generated and used at a private residence. Nor does it apply to internet access or to the purchase and download of music, videos, games, or other digital products.

Low-income and senior customers registered for PG&E’s California Alternate Rates for Energy (CARE) Program or another utility’s discounted rate program are exempt from the UUT.

The City Council must repeal the UUT if the share of property taxes distributed to the City and special districts providing municipal services to the City (such as the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District), is increased to provide additional money for those services in amounts comparable to those provided by the UUT.

In addition, the City Council may reduce or repeal the UUT; but the City Council cannot increase the UUT above six percent (6.0%) or apply it to new utility services without voter approval.

Each year, independent auditors must review City spending of UUT proceeds; report at a public meeting;

and post their report on the City’s website. In addition, the City must annually report, at a public meeting and on the City’s website, how UUT proceeds have been spent.

A “yes” vote is in favor of adopting the measure. A “no” vote rejects the measure. If a simple majority of votes are “yes,” the measure will take effect 10 days after the City Council declares the election result. Utilities then have 90 days to begin collecting the tax.

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure Z. If you desire a copy of the measure and UUT Ordinance, you may view them at Alternatively, you may contact the Brentwood City Clerk’s Office at 150 City Park Way, Brentwood, CA 94513; (925) 516-5440; or, and copies will be mailed at no cost to you.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Please help make Brentwood safer by voting “YES” on Measure Z!


We are at risk. Service cuts by the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District have left Brentwood with just ONE FIRE STATION and THREE FIREFIGHTERS on duty to protect 60,000 residents and $8 billion in property.

One station isn’t enough! When we call 9-1-1, firefighters should be there within 8 minutes. Today, average firefighter response is almost 10 minutes. By that time, it may be too late to save a heart attack victim or stop a fire from destroying our homes and businesses.

Measure Z will raise $6 million through a modest Utility Users Tax (UUT) – a tax that exists in 150 California cities. These funds can be used to open two more stations and put six more firefighters on duty in Brentwood.

Two more fully staffed stations means firefighters will get to Brentwood emergencies faster and with the right personnel and equipment.

This measure is:

FAIR: all residents and businesses will pay, not just property owners.

FEASIBLE: we could build two more fire stations faster than any other funding option.

REASONABLE: the UUT rate starts at 3% and is capped at 6%. Low-income and senior households entitled to lifeline utility rates would be exempt.

RESPONSIBLE: the City Council must repeal this tax if the fire district gets more local property taxes equal to UUT funds through a reallocation process.

Brentwood’s high quality of life is attracting more residents and businesses every year. This growth means a greater need for public safety protection. We cannot afford to ignore our dangerously slow 9-1-1 emergency response times.

We urge you to vote “YES” on Measure Z for Brentwood’s future! The undersigned Proponent(s) or Author(s) hereby state that such argument is true and correct to the best of their knowledge and belief.

Robert Taylor, Mayor, City of Brentwood
Dan Torres, Businessman / Resident
Emil Geddes, Board Member, Brentwood Union School District
Olga B. Vidriales, Businesswoman / Resident
George Schmidt, President, Summerset III HOA

— Contra Costa County Elections Division

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 re-gressive 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 Brentwood, 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 Brentwood 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, Jack Weir, President
Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, Harold E. (Hal) Bray, East County Chairperson

— Contra Costa County Elections Division

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 Taxpayer Association, Jack Weir, President

— Contra Costa County Elections Division

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Opponents ignore the fact that Measure Z works in tandem with Measure A, which provides guidance to city officials on how to spend Measure Z funds. They also do not offer any practical solution to address the public safety threat facing Brentwood. Nobody disputes FIREFIGHTING and EMERGENCY MEDICAL SERVICES ARE DANGEROUSLY INADEQUATE.

Measure Z would generate enough funding to add TWO ADDITIONAL STATIONS and 18 FIREFIGHTERS within our city to improve response times to fires and other

9-1-1 emergencies. These funds must go to Brentwood’s general fund and must be subject to independent audits every year.

The claim that Measure Z makes the fire district’s budget unreliable is silly. Brentwood would simply contract with the fire district for increased fire and emergency medical services.

The claim that Measure Z applies to water and sewer utility charges is also false. The tax does not apply to these services.

The proposed tax rates are reasonable. Compared to utility taxes paid in 150 other California cities, which go as high as 11%, Measure Z proposes a modest rate of 3%, increasing to 6% in 2018. The Brentwood City Council exempted low-income and senior customers from the utility users tax, protecting those who cannot afford to pay.

If property taxes are reallocated in East County, MEASURE Z MUST BE REPEALED. Unless and until that happens, Measure Z provides an immediate public safety solution for Brentwood.

Joel Bryant, Vice Mayor, City of Brentwood
Hugh Henderson, Fire Chief, ECCFPD
Mark Evenson, Chief of Police, City of Brentwood
Joe Weber, Planning Commissioner, City of Brentwood

— Contra Costa County Elections Division
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