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Critics Say Richmond Tax Measure Circumvents State Law

RICHMOND (KCBS) - Richmond could have the highest sales tax in the East Bay if voters approve a measure in a special election on June 7. Critics say they are not objecting to the tax as much as the legality of how it's being handled.

Measure D, proposes a permanent half-cent sales tax increase, which would boost the rate to 10.25 percent. Richmond Mayor Gayle McLauglin contends this tax is necessary since the city is running out of ways to generate revenue. She said D would require a simple majority for passage.

KCBS' Dave Padilla Reports:

"For this particular sales tax we do not need a two thirds," she said. "This has been reviewed by our legal counsel."

Taxes mandated for specific purposes require a two-thirds majority to pass. Measure D is a general tax, but is being paired with Measure C, which is an advisory vote directing revenue from the increased tax to schools and services for the poor.

Kris Hunt, the head of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, calls this unusual pairing of measures an end run around state law.

"What they're trying to do is circumvent the law by playing with the way they're handling it, and that's just wrong," she said.

The measure contains no sunset provision, meaning there is no expiration date, which Hunt is also opposed to.

(© 2011 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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