LocationAlhambra , CA
The City of Alhambra has announced plans to place the Alhambra Community Services and Infrastructure Protection Measure, a three-quarter per cent tax, on the March 3, 2020 ballot.
The city announced the action in a press release two days after the city council, on a 5-0 vote, approved the first read of the ballot measure at its Tuesday night meeting. The ballot measure ordinance to the city’s municipal code will be back before the city council for a second reading at its November 25 meeting.
“For the past three years we have been in the unenviable position of having to close budget deficits, after years of state takeaways of local funds,” City Manager Jessica Binnquist said in the press release.
According to the release, the city has deferred “significant public works improvements to streets, bridges and playground equipment, and cut budgets citywide.” It went on to say that due to budget shortfalls “there is not enough funding to pay for 10 currently vacant police positions.” The release did not specify whether these police positions were for officers or support personnel but at the council meeting the vacancies were described as “police officer positions.”
The council action on the tax measure Tuesday night came near the end of a lengthy meeting which focused on consideration of an urgency tenant protection ordinance that would act as an immediate safeguard to prohibit no-fault evictions and stiff rent increases until Jan 1, 2020 when AB 1482 goes into effect. On a unanimous vote, the council passed this local measure, which contains much of the language of AB 1482.
In presenting the staff report for the ordinance to put the revenue measure to the voters, which was item four on the evening’s agenda, Asst. City Manager Lucy Garcia said it would necessitate a special election in Alhambra on March 3, 2020, the date of the California primary, and that the cost would be $223,000.
The staff report on the measure noted that similar tax measures have been adopted in nearby communities including Pasadena, South Pasadena, Sierra Madre, Glendale and Glendora.
In public comment, Andrea Lofthouse-Quesada, a member of the city Planning Commission, said she opposed the cost of the special election and urged that the measure be put on the scheduled November ballot. Others opposed the tax noting that a levy would inordinately impact low income residents.
In response, city officials voiced concern that Los Angeles County could add its own revenue measure to the November ballot thus hampering the city’s efforts to raise vital funds.
In discussing the proposed ordinance and the city’s revenue picture, some residents questioned the validity of a recent survey mailed to homes that asked for input on the importance of a number of priorities. Those who questioned the survey and outreach meetings discussing the survey suggested that the items mentioned were vital city services and did not include what they termed “discretionary items.” Items mentioned include financial support for the Tournament of Roses float, financial support for the Chamber of Commerce, decorative flower pots that adorn bridges over some of the city’s busy streets, and the 4th of July Fireworks.
Council members listened to the concerns and some conceded that the survey could probably have been framed in a better manner but nevertheless they believed the tax measure—which is estimated to raise $8 million a year—was vital for the city.
The priorities listed on the survey, which is also available on the city’s web site, and mentioned in the city’s press release, include:
—Preventing property crimes, like thefts and burglaries
—Maintaining police, fire and 9-1-1 emergency response
—Keeping public areas safe and clean
—Maintaining essential city services
—Repairing streets and potholes
—Helping ensure young people have safe places to play
—Keeping all funds local by using residents’ taxpayer dollars to benefit Alhambra
In its press release, it was noted that LA County Registrar of Voters has changed the standard ballot format and that the city will “update the community on balloting changes and new voter registration laws.”
“We encourage all eligible Alhambra residents to vote in the upcoming Municipal Election,” Binnquist said.