City Council Votes Monday on Preparing Sales Tax Measure for November Election

Staff report lays out City’s need for more revenue

Published : Friday, July 13, 2018 | 3:46 AM

The Pasadena City Council will vote on a series of measures Monday which are necessary in order to place a 0.75 percent sales tax on the November 2018 ballot.

The proposal would raise the city’s sales tax from 9.5 percent to 10.25 percent. The proceeds would be used to offset the City’s projected budget deficit in coming years.

The City Council will first vote to adopt a resolution for the General Municipal Election to be held Tuesday, November 6, 2018, as part of the state and national elections cycle.

The resolution to hold the election cites, in part, Pasadena’s long history, its need to replace and maintain aging infrastructure, including streets, sidewalks and bridges; the need to upgrade fire and paramedic services, maintaining youth and resident services, as well as the support of 18,000 students in the Pasadena Unified School District, all necessitating the need for the sales tax measure.

An accompanying, non-binding advisory ballot measure would also be on the ballot, asking that the City of Pasadena use two-thirds of the revenue from the sales tax to maintain City services, and then use the remaining one-third to support the Pasadena Unified School District.

As part of staging the elections, the City Council will also choose five persons to write supporting or opposing language to the measure, which would be included with the ballot.

The arguments, once approved by the City Attorney, would then be filed by the City Clerk by August 14, 2018.

According to a staff report from the City Manager and City Clerk’s office, “The City has millions of dollars in identified, but unfunded capital needs, including:

• Upgrading Fire Stations to current operational and safety standards
• Replacing obsolete 911 emergency response communications
• Replacing 17,000 street lights on old, failing high-voltage circuits to safer, more reliable low-voltage
• Repair of 670,000 square feet of damaged sidewalk
• Bringing over 4,000 curb ramps in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards
• Upgrading aging libraries, community centers, bridges and emergency shelters.

“Addressing aging and inadequate infrastructure in our 132-year-old City,” the report continued, “has consistently been identified as a top priority by our public, rather than letting conditions worsen and costing residents more in the long-term. The report added, “In order to maintain essential services and reinvest in critical infrastructure, the City must secure a reliable, locally-controlled source of funding that cannot be seized by the State or federal governments.”

The report also noted that other local sales tax measures, which have been enacted by scores of other communities throughout California, allows out-of-town visitors who spend money in Pasadena to share significantly in the cost.

According to the report, “Sales tax is not levied on food purchased as groceries or prescription medication, and it is not a tax on one’s home or property.”

“Another major benefit of adopting a local sales tax is that it will ensure that all funds are controlled and spent locally,” the report added.

Pasadena voters have in recent years, according to the staff report, approved several L.A. County sponsored sales tax measures, but Pasadena is contributing far more in revenue than it is receiving in return.

The report also noted that, of five recent tax measures approved by Pasadena voters—Measures A, C, R, M and H—Pasadena has contributed $63,000,000 in revenue to LA County, but only received back $10,582,541.

“Moreover,” said the report, “unless Pasadena acts now, it is highly likely that the ability to establish a local sales tax will be foreclosed with the November, 2020 election.

Under State law, based on existing voter-approved sales taxes, the maximum amount of local sales tax that can be implemented by voters in any Los Angeles County city is 0.75 percent.

This past February, the South Coast Air Quality Management District released a draft proposal to pursue a local sales tax of its own at the 2020 election. The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors could also act to place a measure on the same ballot.

“Either one of these actions could reduce or eliminate Pasadena’s ability to establish a locally controlled sales tax revenue,” stated the report.

Also, over the past year, while developing the City’s upcoming budget, As part of this year’s budget process, City staff held a series of meetings called, “Join the Conversation,” featuring dozens of presentations to various community and business groups, and supported by an on-line survey which was promoted through social media and other communication outlets.

From the hundreds of responses received, surveyed residents placed maintaining 911 services at the top of the list, followed by maintaining fire services, addressing homelessness, and repairing streets and roads, among other needs.

“The City foresees addressing (these) through new, locally-controlled revenue to be generated by the proposed measure,” said the report.

The staff report also noted that “Helping to support quality public
schools promotes the overall quality of life in Pasadena and is in keeping with the recommendations of the City’s adopted Economic Development Strategic Plan.”

The total cost for submitting the two City ballot measures to voters in the November 2018 Statewide General Election is estimated at $143,000.




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