Vote margins narrowed further Friday for several Riverside County ballot measures as the results of the ongoing tally of absentee and provisional ballots continued.
Registrar of Voters Rebecca Spencer issued a statement on the county’s website saying an estimated 317,000 vote-by-mail and roughly 25,000 provisional ballots had yet to be tabulated. The next update is scheduled for 6 p.m. Saturday.
The measures that remained too close to call were Jurupa Valley’s Measure U and Corona’s Measure X, a proposed one-cent sales tax increase in support of emergency services
Measure U trails 50.7%-49.3%, 8,586-8,333. The 253-vote separation compares to a 316-vote margin on Thursday.
If approved, Measure U would replace regulations approved in 2018 permitting cannabis stores. If Measure U is approved, the number of outlets would be capped at nine, a net increase of two compared to the current municipal code.
However, the proposal would mandate operators be required to obtain both conditional use and regulatory permits, although only the latter are required now.
Measure U 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.
Measure X led 50.8%-49.2%, 16,189-15,687. Thursday’s 595-vote lead shrunk to 502 votes Friday.
Supporters say passage of Measure X would increase funding for emergency services by roughly $30 million annually.
Corona taxpayer advocate Joe Morgan wrote in campaign literature that the tax increase 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.
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.
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 led to the overall sales tax rate going from 7.75% to 8.75%. A group of residents started 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.
In Riverside, voters approved Measure R, which requires 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 San Jacinto, voters approved Measure V, which will increase local sales taxes by 1% on all transactions.
Corona voters approved the term limits measure, Measure Y, 83.9%-16.1%, 26,385-5,055. It limits anyone elected to the City Council to three terms, regardless of whether the terms are consecutive or served at different intervals.
Lake Elsinore’s Measure Z was also approved, and like V and X, it will increase sales taxes by 1%, generating an estimated $10 million annually for public safety, as well as homeless relief programs and infrastructure repairs.
All the measures required a simple majority vote for approval.