Pasadena Voters Overwhelmingly Pass New Sales Tax Measures

New ¾ cent tax will bring in $21 Million to the City yearly; Pasadena Unified set to share in funds

Published : Wednesday, November 7, 2018 | 5:03 AM

Offering financial respite to both the City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Unified School District, voters Tuesday overwhelmingly passed a set of municipal sales tax measures that will bring in approximately $21 million in new revenue yearly.

Measure I, which mandates a new municipal ¾ cent sales tax on purchases in Pasadena, passed with 22,291 votes in favor (67.68% of the count) versus 10,645 votes against (32.32% of the count).

Measure J, an advisory measure which recommends that one-third of the new tax revenues be shared by the City with the Pasadena Unified School District, subject to City Council approval, passed by a much wider margin: 22,903 votes in favor (70.43%) versus 9,617 against (29.57%).

“I’m delighted at the results,” said Pasadena Mayor Terry Tornek Tuesday evening. “I’m not too surprised, because I think Pasadena voters are well-informed, and when they got the information about what we were talking about, I think they were willing to invest in the City as they always have been, and in the public school system.”

Tornek, as a private citizen, had created a campaign committee to back the measures.

“It was only a matter to get them the information they needed because asking people to raise their taxes is not a simple thing. But Pasadena people have always been willing to invest in their community.”

The Pasadena Chamber of Commerce had lead opposition to the tax hike.

Paul Little, Chamber President and CEO, said Tuesday night he was “not surprised” the measures passed, “considering the amount of money raised by its committee, and the fact that there was no organized opposition to it.”

Both the City of Pasadena and the Pasadena Unified face mounting budget woes over the next few years as the City struggles with increasing pension costs and the School District is plagued with shrinking attendance rates.

Pasadena Unified’s financial situation remains so precarious it is in danger of being taken over by the Los Angeles County Office of Education if it fails to maintain an adequate reserve in its budgets through 2021.

Pasadena School Board Member Scott Phelps reacted positively to early numbers Tuesday evening, saying, “I’m pleased that the community has given us a stable source of income that won’t be subject to any possible legislative changes. I want to give my thanks to those who opened up their hearts and wallets and agreed to pay this tax.”

Phelps also noted that the PUSD still faces budget battles, along with shrinking enrollments and increasing State Calpers costs.

“We will go back at the budget again Wednesday and Thursday,” he said.

Phelps also said that the PUSD Board will request that the LA County Office of Education allow some portion of the anticipated revenues to be calculated into the budgeting process.

“It’s all an estimate process, anyway,” Phelps added. “I think we should be allowed to estimate some of that revenue in our budgets.”

Former Pasadena Mayor Bill Bogaard, who had supported Measures I and J, was delighted at the early results Tuesday night, and said, “This is a tribute to the voters of Pasadena. They are interested in quality municipal services, modern infrastructure and strong public schools”

The sales tax measures will be in effect indefinitely.

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