Antioch car dealer makes pledge to help ailing city budget

Antioch car dealer makes pledge to help ailing city budget
Tom Nokes says he will match every dollar donated to police up to $100,000
By Paul Burgarino
Contra Costa Times
Posted: 12/22/2010 02:00:42 PM PST
Updated: 12/22/2010 02:38:22 PM PST
ANTIOCH -- A local businessman wants to help drive this city back toward solvency.

Tom Nokes, president of the Antioch Auto Center (Toyota, Nissan, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Mazda and Hyundai) & Tracy Auto Group (Tracy Ford, Tracy Chrysler Jeep Dodge and Tracy Hyundai), has pledged to match any donations made to the city up to $100,000 to help with its financial crunch. A strong police presence will help bring in business, he said.

"This city needs the police department. It needs security," Nokes told the council during a Dec. 14 meeting. "It's bad publicity in this town when we don't have it (security)."

The Police Department thanked Nokes for earlier donating money to pay for several ballistic vests for the Antioch police SWAT team. Each vest cost over $2,000, Sgt. Tony Morefield told city leaders. The department bought the vests for some of the team a few years earlier, but couldn't buy the rest because of budget cuts.

"The protection is priceless," Morefield said. "Simply said, he came through." Nokes could not be reached for comment this week.

The Antioch Auto Center, which includes Toyota, Nissan, Dodge, Chrysler, Jeep, Mazda and Hyundai car dealerships, is one of the largest sales tax generators in the East Contra Costa city. City leaders were pleasantly overwhelmed by the proclamation.

"It definitely was a surprise, but a welcome surprise," Mayor Jim Davis said. Davis said he and City Manager Jim Jakel are set to meet with Nokes next week.

"It was very generous," added councilman Brian Kalinowski.

"All of the money Nokes pledges will go to the Police Department", Davis said.

As Antioch has dealt with its ongoing budget issues, it has received a couple of checks and donations from residents, but nothing of this magnitude, Jakel said.

Nokes is one of those business leaders in Antioch who's concerned about public safety and wants customers to feel safe, interim police Chief Allan Cantando said. Davis expressed hope that Nokes' offer will help convince other large businesses and stakeholders to donate to city coffers. The city will start working with different business groups after the holidays to start raising matching funds, Kalinowski said.

Contact Paul Burgarino at 925-779-7164.
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