Backers of several ballot measures on issues such as term limits and cannabis taxes were celebrating victories Wednesday in their respective cities across Riverside County, but vote margins for other measures made the outcomes uncertain.
The Office of the Registrar of Voters said 100% of precincts had reported. However, Registrar Rebecca Spencer posted a message on the county’s portal Wednesay saying an estimated 400,000 vote-by-mail ballots and 25,000 provisional ballots had yet to be tabulated. The next update on local results will be Thursday by 6 p.m., she said.
In Banning, voters approved Measure L, imposing a gross receipts tax capped at 10% on marijuana distribution outlets. Marijuana distribution outlets are entities involved in the transportation or transfer of cannabis products to cultivators, manufacturers, retailers and testing sites.
The revenue generation potential is between $20,289 and $405,790 annually, depending on how many distribution facilities are in operation, and how high a tax the Banning City Council decides to impose under the 10% limit. The council put the proposal to voters as a prospective means of bolstering 911 services with the extra money.
In Menifee, voters rejected Measure M, which would have repealed Measure DD — a 1% sales tax on all transactions within the city to support public safety.
DD was approved in 2016, and it led to the overall sales tax rate going from 7.75% to 8.75%. A group of residents initiated a petition drive to undo the tax increase, but supporters of the tax said eliminating it would mean a future loss of $11 million in revenue.
Supporters of M countered that the city is receiving state funding for public safety programs that will offset the loss.
In Riverside, voters endorsed Measure R, which called for realigning elections to consistently coincide with state primaries. The proposal also tacked an extra year — for a total of five — on the terms of council members in wards 2, 4 and 6, beginning in 2021. The normal term is four years, and the extra year will only apply from 2021 to 2026, reverting after that to four years.
The temporary exception is necessary to make the election cycle for each member occur in an even year, according to the city.
In Jurupa Valley, the fate of Measure U remained too close to call, with the latest tally showing 6,543 voters rejecting the measure and 6,139 supporting it, and votes still being counted.
The measure would replace a prior one approved in 2018 permitting cannabis stores. Under the replacement proposal, the number of outlets would be capped at nine, a net increase of two compared to the current municipal code. However, Measure U would mandate that operators be required to obtain both conditional use and regulatory permits, though only the latter are required now.
The proposal would also impose a gross receipts tax of 6% on cannabis retailers, 2% on distributors, 2.5% on manufacturing facilities and 1% on testing sites. The City Council said the revenue would go to the general fund, providing money for youth programs, public safety, road repairs and other uses.
In San Jacinto, voters approved Measure V, which will increase local sales taxes by 1% on all transactions.
According to supporters, the estimated $3.2 million in annual revenue generated from the tax will go to public safety programs, water infrastructure improvements and road repairs. There was no listed opposition.
Voters in Corona were closely divided on Measure X, a one-cent sales tax increment in support of public safety and 911 services that supporter say would raise roughly $30 million annually. The latest tally showed voters narrowly in support, by a 612-vote margin.
Corona taxpayer advocate Joe Morgan contended in campaign literature that the hike would mostly fatten existing public safety personnel’s salaries.
“We have hired new dispatchers and officers, purchased entire fleets of new vehicles and several new pieces of fire equipment in the last two years, all the while growing our cash reserves,” Morgan said. “Measure X is nothing but an attempt to loosen the purse strings and grow the paychecks of the highest paid employees in the city.”
Backers of the measure wrote that “California has taken tens of millions of dollars from Corona, forcing years of budget cuts” that have put the city at risk of not being able to handle medical, fire and police calls in a timely way.
Corona’s Measure Y won overwhelming voter support. Under the measure, any person elected to the City Council will be limited to three terms — for life — regardless of whether the terms are consecutive or served at different intervals.
Lake Elsinore’s Measure Z was also bound for approval. It’s analogous to V and X, seeking a 1% sales tax hike for public safety, as well as homeless relief programs and infrastructure repairs.
The measure will net an estimated $10 million annually, according to the city. A citizen oversight committee will be formed to monitor how funds are spent and make recommendations to the City Council on future expenditures.
All of the measures required only a simple majority vote for approval.
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