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City of Grand Terrace Utility Tax, Measure C (November 2013)

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A City of Grand Terrace Utility Tax, Measure C ballot question was on the November 5, 2013, election ballot for voters in the city of Grand Terrace in San Bernardino County, which is in California. It was defeated.

If Measure C had been approved by over 50% of voters, a 5% utility tax would have been imposed for six years to add revenue to the city's general fund. The Mayor stated that estimates placed the expected revenue from the Measure C tax increase between $1.39 million and $1.4 million per year.[1][2]

According to The Sun's editorial on Measure C:[3]

  • Grand Terrace had an "an ongoing structural deficit of roughly $1 million"
  • general fund revenues for the city in 2013 were a little over $3 million
  • in the several years immediately preceding 2013 the city's revenue had fallen by 40%

Election results

Measure C
ResultVotesPercentage
Defeatedd No1,43260.58%
Yes 932 39.42%
These final, certified results are from the San Bernardino County elections office.

Text of measure

Ballot language

The question on the ballot:

To ensure Grand Terrace has the funds necessary to remain an independent city and able to provide essential services to residents including rapid response to 9-1-1 police emergencies, maintenance/repair of local streets, adequate police services, and maintaining parks and public facilities, shall the City of Grand Terrace establish a utility users' tax of 5% for six years only with independent citizen oversight, all money staying local, and an exemption for low-income seniors?[1][4]

Resolution

A full text of Resolution No. 2013-36, by which Measure C was referred to the ballot, is available here.

Ordinance

The full text of the ordinance that would be approved by Measure C is available here.

Analysis

According to the impartial analysis of measure C by the Grand Terrace city attorney Tracey R. Martinez:

  • A financial report on the city projected the financial position of the City and the report said that the City would need to severely cut municipal services to keep the city budget within estimated revenues over the future five years.
  • The city council adopted a 2013-2014 budget that reduced city services: The law enforcement agreement with the Sheriff's Department was reduced by one deputy for the full fiscal year.
  • The budget plan adopted provided that unless a tax measure was passed in November of 2013 further reductions to city services would follow, including:
- the elimination of a Sheriff's Deputy
- the elimination of funding for the Senior Center
- the closure of Rollins and Pico Parks
- 50% reduction in emergency operations oversight funding
- reduced City Attorney and Finance consultant contracts
- reduction of administrative expenses by $266,000
- a 50% reduction in Historical and Cultural Activities
- a 50% reduction in Historical and Cultural Activities Committee funding
- the disbanding of the Planning Commission
- council and oversight meetings reduced to once per month

Support

Supporters

  • Save Grand Terrace[5]

The official arguments in favor of Measure C were signed by:[6]

  • Walt Stanckiewitz, Mayor
  • Bernardo Sandoval, Mayor Pro Tem
  • Darcy McNaboe, Council Member
  • Jackie Mitchell, Council Member
  • Sylvia Robles, Council Member

Arguments in favor

Proponents of Measure C argued that the city simply needed the revenue from Measure C or it would be forced to curtail essential city services, especially after the loss of RDA funds from the state.[6]

For rebuttals to the arguments against Measure C click here.

Media endorsements

  • The Sun: The editorial board at The Sun published an article endorsing Measure C in which they wrote: "Grand Terrace officials have proven themselves responsible financial stewards and responsive leaders — two traits voters must continue to demand of them as the city implements Measure C and manages funds from the new tax.

Voters should say yes to Measure C."[3]

Opposition

Opponents

The official arguments against Measure C were signed by:[7]

  • Thelma Winkle Beach
  • Jeffrey McConnell, local real estate broker
  • Doug A. Wilson, former planning commission chairman
  • Mark Jorstead

Arguments against

Opponents of Measure C argued that much of the revenue from Measure C would go to salaries and retirement benefits of city officials and that the city should not be threatening to close parks, cut public safety services and close senior centers and should instead return to city to what it allegedly was originally, "a contract city with a modest budget." The official arguments said, "We need less bureaucracy, not more. Our city must return to being a contract city."[7]

According to Doug Wilson, "In a Why we don’t need Measure C: Governor Brown killed redevelopment in California when he signed AB26 and AB27 on June 28, 2011. Grand Terrace lost $738,000 a year in General Fund money, not the $1,500,000 that Measure “C”, the open-ended Utility Users Tax, will extort from voters."[8]

For rebuttals to the arguments in favor of Measure C click here.

RDA money

In 2010, Governor Brown signed AB26 and AB27 and removed the funding going to cities from the California Redevelopment Agencies, or RDAs. This removed an estimated $738,000 of funds from the city of Grand Terrace. This, according to some reports, was at the root of the fiscal difficulties in Grand Terrace. Measure C proponents argued that the city needed Measure C funds to replace RDA funds.[8]

McConnell, opponent of Measure C, stated: “Here’s our viewpoint, the three of us—Doug Wilson, Mark Jolstead, and myself. We lived without the RDA before. We can do it again. We survived without the RDA money before. We can do it again. Closing the parks is just a fear tactic. We can go back to being a contract city."[8]

Bernardo Sandoval, Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Grand Terrace and proponent of Measure C, said, “Measure C is an ordinance approving a utility user tax that if passed in this next November election would increase the revenue to general fund required to maintain Grand Terrace at its current level of service.”[8]

See also

External links

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