Pixar Invokes Specter Of Rancor With Business Tax Ballot Initiative
Last night, the Emeryville city council ignored the pleadings of Pixar and instructed the city attorney to begin preparations for a November ballot initiative so that voters may decide if business taxes should be raised. In a stunning 5-0 vote that featured two reversals, the council moved forward two issues for voter's consideration: a raising of the business tax rate and a removal of the infamous business tax cap, a tax scheme designed to protect the largest corporation's upper gross receipts from taxation.
City Council: Unintelligent & Irresponsible
Before the council vote, Pixar corporate attorney Anna Shimko told the assembled throng that chaos would result if the people were so empowered. Ms Shimko warned of a coming season of "rancor" from the business community as the election draws close. She reminded the council of their duty to not let Emeryville descend in a baleful and chaotic state where the rabble would decide such important public policy as business taxes, "I know you to be a responsible and intelligent council" she intoned.
The Pixar Attorney offered the council a way out in the form of a delayed vote until the next council meeting so that the business community could give the council additional information and properly apprise the citizens of the disastrous results of a business tax hike in the interim. The opportunity was seized upon by Mayor Nora Davis and Councilman Kurt Brinkman, "I think we could have one more meeting" Ms Davis said. Council members Jennifer West and Ruth Atkin rebuffed however, "This has been in the works for over a year" Ms West said.
The council decided to take up the issue of a tax waiver for the smallest businesses under $100,000 gross receipts at a later council meeting. Ms West noted that tax lowering can be done by a direct council vote and a plebiscite is not needed.
The people of Emeryville will be asked in November if the business tax cap, unprecedented in the Bay Area and extant for 18 years should be lifted. On the ballot also will be a provision for voters to decide if the business tax rate should be raised from .08% to .1%, a rate still lower than our neighbors Berkeley or Oakland. Council member West held out for a tax rate the same as Oakland, at .12%, noting four other taxes imposed on businesses there would still keep Emeryville the lowest in the area but her motion died for lack of a second.