2018 Highlights: Mayor Tornek Says Passages of Two City Sales Measures Top List

Published : Wednesday, December 26, 2018 | 5:44 AM

Looking back over 2018, a year he described as brimming with more than a dozen major community issues, Mayor Terry Tornek said the successful outcomes of Measures I and J come to mind first as being among the year’s most significant.

The favorable response by Pasadena voters to both of the city sales tax measures showed a community solidly supportive of taking care of the public education system in general and of the Pasadena Unified School District in particular, Tornek said.

The Mayor said that in a City where 40 percent of school children attend private schools, the passages were affirmations the people support Pasadena’s public schools.

72 percent of Pasadena voters said yes, Tornek said.

“I mean, you can’t, you can’t get 72 percent to say ‘yes’ to Santa Claus,” he said.

“That’s a very dramatic change for us that will have a huge impact for years and years to come.”

“I think it demonstrates that people, whether they have kids in the public school system or not, recognize that you got to have a great public school system if you’re going to have a truly great City,” Tornek said. “The people put their money where their mouth is and said, ‘Go ahead and make this happen.’”

Measure I results in at least a $21 million yearly income for the City from a 0.75 percent Transactions and Use Tax. Two-thirds of that revenue “will be used to maintain essential public services” and the remaining one third will be passed to schools in the Pasadena Unified School District.

Tornel said the new direct financial “investment” by the Council in the District is unprecedented.

“We paid for a portion of some facilities in McKinley and Washington schools, $1 million each, where we use the use the buildings after hours, we provide crossing guards for the school district. We have after we have after school programs for kids that we do jointly in cooperation with the school district, but this is a direct financial investment. So that’s unprecedented I think. And very important,” Tornek said.
With a $240 million annual budget, the additional tax revenue should enable the School Board to fund the restoration of some jobs cut in recent budget cutting, and to continue various in-school and after-school programs for Pasadena-area youth, many of which have traditionally been supported by the local government.

Last week, an ad hoc committee composed of City Council members and representatives from the PUSD Board of Education met for the first time to plan how proceeds from Measures I and J could be tapped and used effectively in support of PUSD programs.

Mayor Tornek said the ad hoc committee will lead a continuing dialogue where the community can provide inputs and share their opinions about those public school programs in Pasadena.
This is the first a series of interviews about the top most significant events in Pasadena during 2018.

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