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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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County

Sonoma County
Measure O Ordinance - 2/3 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

Passed

178,309 votes yes (68.07%)

83,659 votes no (31.93%)

100% of precincts reporting (668/668).

272,244 ballots counted.

To provide local mental health and addiction services and facilities for children, adults, veterans, seniors, and those experiencing homelessness including: permanent supportive housing; crisis assessment; emergency psychiatric care; early detection and intervention; suicide prevention; and opioid and substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery, shall the County of Sonoma establish a countywide 1/4 cent sales tax for ten years, providing approximately $25 million annually, with annual audits and citizen oversight to ensure funds are properly spent?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

A “yes” vote on Measure O will authorize the County to increase the sales tax rate one-quarter percent, or 1⁄4-cent on each dollar countywide to fund the behavioral health services described in the expenditure plan.

NO vote means

A “no” vote on Measure O will prohibit the County from imposing the proposed sales tax.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Source: Office of the Sonoma County Counsel

County Counsel’s Impartial Analysis of Measure O

Measure O asks voters whether the County of Sonoma should impose a 1⁄4-cent special sales tax countywide to be used exclusively to provide local mental health and addiction services and facilities for children, adults, veterans, seniors, and those experiencing homelessness, including: permanent supportive housing; crisis assessment; emergency psychiatric care; early detection and intervention; suicide prevention; and opioid and substance use prevention, treatment, and recovery. The Board of Supervisors unanimously voted to place this measure on the ballot. The full text of Measure O, including the Expenditure Plan, is published in this voter information pamphlet.

If approved, Measure O would provide children, veterans, seniors, those experiencing homelessness, and people facing trauma or drug addiction with access to care in Sonoma County. If approved, Measure O would impose a special tax that will provide approximately $25,000,000 of revenue annually. As a special tax, those revenues will be placed in a separate fund maintained in the County Treasury and may be used only for the specific purposes set forth in the full text of Measure O.

The Expenditure Plan lists five categories of projects that may be funded by the tax, including:

  • (i) Behavioral Health facilities, including residential care facilities, transitional housing for individuals discharging from crisis services, and psychiatric health facility and operations;
  • (ii) Emergency Psychiatric / Crisis Services, Including Mobile Support Team expansion, Crisis Stabilization Unit, Residential Crisis Services, and Inpatient Hospital Services for adults;
  • (iii) Mental Health and Substance Use Disorder outpatient services, including prevention, early intervention and recovery services for children and youth;
  • (iv) Behavioral Health Homeless / Care Coordination, including behavioral health services for homeless individuals, and care coordination for high needs homeless; and
  • (v) Transitional and Permanent Supportive Housing.

If voters approve Measure O, the Board of Supervisors will establish an Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee to provide transparency and fiscal accountability. The Committee will review the receipts and expenditures from the tax, including the independent audit of each agency’s use of the tax proceeds. Additional Accountability Safeguards include: (i) annual audits of the use of the tax proceeds conducted by an independent certified public accountancy firm; and (ii) an annual report from the Sonoma County Department of Health Services submitted to the Citizens’ Oversight Committee detailing the agency’s prior fiscal year activities and updates on specific projects funded by the tax.

The tax proposed by Measure O will become effective only if approved by a two-thirds majority of those voting on the measure.

A “yes” vote on Measure O will authorize the County to increase the sales tax rate one-quarter percent, or 1⁄4-cent on each dollar countywide to fund the behavioral health services described in the expenditure plan. The new rate would go into effect on April 1, 2021, and remain in effect until March 31, 2031. The proposed sales tax would be imposed and collected by merchants in the same manner as state-imposed sales tax.

A “no” vote on Measure O will prohibit the County from imposing the proposed sales tax.

BRUCE D. GOLDSTEIN
County Counsel

By: s/ Robert Pittman
Assistant County Counsel

Financial effect

County Auditor’s Fiscal Impact Statement — Measure O

This measure would increase the sales tax collected in Sonoma County by one-quarter of one cent per dollar (0.25%) on all taxable sales occurring in Sonoma County for ten years.

Based on records from the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration for the period of July 2019 through June 2020, the additional sales tax rate of 0.25% would yield approximately $25.0 million each year for mental health, addiction and homeless services and facilities in Sonoma County. The imposition of tax from the measure would be operative on April 1, 2021, with the first full year of revenues impacting the budget for fiscal year 2021-22.

Passage of this measure would increase County of Sonoma revenues by approximately $25 million per year of which $24.5 million would be allocated to Behavioral Health services and $500,000 would be allocated to Community Development Commission homeless services.

The net proceeds from this measure would be allocated to five program categories: 22% for Behavioral Health Facilities, 44% for Emergency Psychiatric/Crisis Services, 18% for Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder Outpatient Services, 14% for Homeless Behavioral Health/Care Coordination, and 2% for Transitional & Permanent Supportive Housing.

The expenditure categories and revenue allocation percentages are as follows:

[table]

1.

Behavioral Health Facilities
* Residential Care Facility
* Transitional Housing for individuals
discharging from crisis services
*Psychiatric Health Facility and Operations

22% $5,500,000
2. Emergency Psychiatric / Crisis Services
* Mobile Support Team Expansion/Crisis 
Assessment, Prevention and Education
* Crisis Stabilization Unit
* Residential Crisis Services
* Inpatient Hospital Services - Adult
 44% $11,000,000 
 3.

Mental Health & Substance Use Disorder 
Outpatient Services
* Mental Health Services and Children's Shelters
* Mental Health Services for Children and Youth
* Services to support Residential Care Facilities,
Permanent Supporting Housing, and other Housing
*Substance Use Disorder Services Expansion 

 18% $4,500,000 
 4.  Homeless Behavioral Health / Care Coordination
* Behavioral Health Services for individuals
who are homeless
* Care Coordination for High Needs Homeless  
14% $3,500,000 
 5. Transitional & Permanent Supporting Housing 
* Supportive Housing Pool
 2% $500,000 
     100% $25,000,000 

 

The Board of Supervisors may by a fourth-fifths vote authorize the transfer of proceeds from the measure from one expenditure category to another. Funds may also be reallocated between programs within one of the five categories.

The Board of Supervisors shall establish a Citizens’ Oversight Committee to provide transparency and ensure fiscal accountability.

If the election is successful, the County will be reimbursed for the cost of the election from the proceeds of the tax.

In accordance with the Elections Code, the scope of this fiscal impact statement has been limited to the measure’s effect on revenues and expenditures. It does not address larger countywide fiscal issues such as the measure’s effect on the overall County economy.

s/ Erick Roeser
Auditor-Controller-Treasurer-Tax Collector

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Arguments and rebuttals are the opinions of the authors. They are printed exactly as submitted, including errors.

Argument in Favor of Measure O

Measure O will provide Sonoma County residents with essential mental health and homelessness services.

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown how important it to ensure everyone in our community can access mental health resources, especially when nearly half of adults in the United States will experience mental illness during their lifetime. Measure O provides locally controlled funding to keep our community, particularly children, veterans, seniors, those experiencing homelessness and those with mental health or substance use challenges, safe and healthy in the wake of the pandemic and beyond.

Without dedicated Measure O funding, Sonoma County first responders and law enforcement officers continue handling mental health emergencies. Voting Yes on O provides dedicated funding to ease the burden on emergency services and our healthcare systems, and keep those in need of mental health services out of the jail.

Local veterans and those experiencing homelessness or with mental health or substance use challenges deserve access to resources and treatment. Measure O provides funding for dedicated services to help people find the care and support they need, including additional inpatient psychiatric services for those with urgent needs.

Budget shortfalls have forced drastic cuts to essential services throughout Sonoma County, including in schools and crisis facilities. Measure O invests in behavioral and mental health early intervention programs,

giving local children, traumatized by multiple disasters, access to care.

Measure O helps provide: services for children, veterans and seniors; emergency psychiatric care; mental health and addiction facilities; services and permanent supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness; behavioral and mental health crisis assessment; suicide prevention.

Strict fiscal accountability keeps every penny in Sonoma County and nothing can be taken by the State or used for other purposes. Independent citizens’ oversight and annual audits are also required.

Please join local leaders, elected officials, health professionals, veterans, teachers and many others – Yes on Measure O.

s/ Mike Thompson
Member of Congress 

s/ Frank Chong
President, SRJC

s/ Shirlee Zane
Sonoma County Supervisor

s/ Steven Herrington
County Superintendent of Schools

s/ Esther Lemus
City Councilmember, Town of Windsor

— Source: Sonoma County Registrar of Voters

Arguments AGAINST

Arguments and rebuttals are the opinions of the authors. They are printed exactly as submitted, including errors.

Argument Against Measure O

Just like the roads tax, library tax, fire tax and parks tax before it, Measure O reminds us once again that the Board of Supervisors cannot live within its means. Tax money previously intended for these worthy purposes continues to be squandered on unsustainable pension plans. This measure is not about homelessness or mental health, it is about financial mismanagement.

Supervisors tell us they have done all they can to reduce pensions and point to Sacramento saying further relief must come from the state. That is just simply not true. They steadfastly refuse to request the needed assistance from state officials as if that absolves them of any further responsibility.

Supervisors are quick to request state help when it serves their purposes, however. This tax, for example, would not have even been possible had our Board of Supervisors not prevailed upon State Senator Mike McGuire to lift the cap on local sales taxes. Having bumped up against the cap with earlier tax increases, this tax would have exceeded the threshold had McGuire not sponsored and pushed through legislation last year in a mind-numbing seven days with little public notice or input.

If our Board of Supervisors can be so quick to enlist state help to remove the sales tax cap, why not employ the same urgency to cap our skyrocketing public employee pension crisis? Quite simply, the Supervisors and their colleagues in Sacramento rely on public employee union contributions and endorsements to secure their re-elections. And they aren’t about to bite the hand that feeds them.

So there you go. Either we continue to approve new sales tax increases every election cycle or we finally say enough is enough. The choice is yours.

Vote no on Measure O.

SONOMA COUNTY TAXPAYERS’ ASSOCIATION
s/ Daniel A. Drummond, Executive Director

— Source: Sonoma County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments FOR

Arguments and rebuttals are the opinions of the authors. They are printed exactly as submitted, including errors.

Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure O

Join us in telling Sonoma County officials: “No, Not Now” to higher taxes in this time of uncertainty and chaos. Vote No on Measure O.

Too many people have lost their jobs – more as COVID continues to close small businesses. People are forced to save every dollar to pay their bills, put food on the table, and keep their home. Without any meaningful help coming from our federal and local governments to fix this, is right now really the right time to increase the cost of groceries for families and school supplies for kids dealing with distance learning?

Housing for our homeless is a critical need. If it passes, Measure O provides only 2% of the $250 million raised for housing services. Without a coordinated strategy to address our homeless situation and without any meaningful funding, this tax won’t change the tragedy we see under overpasses and in our parks.

The rest of this $250 million tax seems to be to replace cuts the County made to its budget. Unfortunately, a tax when we can least afford it is the proposed solution, instead of government making choices to keep those important services.

Accountability is promised through an oversight committee, but without an explanation of how the committee will work or who will serve on it.

Make no mistake about it, local government can deliver an almost limitless number of good services. Unfortunately, our ability to pay for it does have a limit. Vote No on Measure O.

NORTH BAY LEADERSHIP COUNCIL
s/ Cynthia Murray, CEO

SONOMA COUNTY FARM BUREAU
s/ Tawny Tesconi, Executive Director

NORTH COAST BUILDERS EXCHANGE
s/ Keith Woods, CEO

SANTA ROSA METRO CHAMBER
s/ Peter Rumble, CEO

CAN!
s/ Lisa Graetz, Board Member

— Source: Sonoma County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Arguments and rebuttals are the opinions of the authors. They are printed exactly as submitted, including errors.

Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure O

Opponents of Measure O are using pensions and Sacramento politics to confuse voters and shift the focus away from those whose lives depend on Measure O.

Measure O is essential for providing additional homelessness and mental health services in Sonoma County. Measure O supports those who need these essential services most, including children, adults, veterans, seniors, those experiencing homelessness and those with mental health or substance use challenges.

While naysayers say this is a “bad time” for a funding measure, we couldn’t disagree more. This critical measure could not come at a more important time. Given the impacts of wildfires, the COVID-19 Pandemic, an economic recession and distance learning, residents of all ages need help coping. Measure O is vital to providing the mental health services our community needs.

Measure O will provide essential, locally-controlled, dedicated funding for emergency psychiatric care; mental health and addiction facilities; services and permanent supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness; behavioral and mental health crisis assessment; and suicide prevention.

Measure O will also take the burden off of law enforcement who are currently overwhelmed with handling mental health emergencies.

All Measure O funds are subject to independent oversight, must stay local in Sonoma County and cannot be used for other purposes or taken by the State.

We cannot wait and hope things will get better. Please join Congressman Mike Thompson, County Superintendent of Schools Steve Harrington and Latino leaders such as Esther Lemus in caring for the mental health of our families and community. Yes on Measure O.

s/ Robert E. Hales, M.D.
Psychiatrist and Veteran 

s/ Kathryn Powell
CEO Petaluma Health Center

s/ Lisa G. Carreño
Community Activist 

s/ Kelly A. McMahon
Teacher Slater Middle School

s/ Mark W. Beiting
Chairperson National Alliance on Mental Illness Sonoma County

— Source: Sonoma County Registrar of Voters

More information

Contact Info

Yes on Measure O
Not available.
No on Measure O
Sonoma County Taxpayers Association
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