A tax measure aimed at increasing funds for law enforcement, along with another in support of fire services and assorted school bond, sales and transient occupancy tax proposals are being put before voters throughout western Riverside County in Tuesday’s election.
The hot button measures are “Z” in Riverside and “U” in Hemet.
Under Measure Z, the city of Riverside is proposing a 1 percent increase in transactions, or “sales,” taxes, noting that the current 8 percent levy has been insufficient to keep up with growing expenditures, especially for police and fire services.
“It’s time to restore public safety and vital services for Riverside,” according to a campaign statement by supporters. “Measure Z will provide the funding needed for essential public safety services, while helping us take care of the basics — like filling potholes and repairing sidewalks.”
Supporters said the proposal will translate to $48 million more for emergency services, as well as boost funding to better address the city’s homeless population.
Opponents countered that the measure will make funds available for any purpose, including to cover automatic salary increases for city employees.
“Riverside taxpayers are providing enough revenue already,” according to the opposition’s campaign statement. “City revenue is at an all-time high. In the last six years, the city’s four main revenue sources have increased an average of 4 percent annually, two-and-a-half times faster than inflation. Steady revenue increases are forecast for years.”
In Hemet, Measure U also seeks a 1 percent increase in sales taxes. Proponents are pushing the hike as vital to boost public safety services, citing figures that show double-digit increases in property and violent crime over the last year, as well as higher volume fire department calls.
According to backers, the measure will potentially make funding available to add 39 police officers and “provide paramedics at every fire station.”
Opponents wrote in campaign literature that “pro-tax promoters are asking voters to sign a blank check,” saying four of five Hemet city council members have shown they “favor the (fire and police) unions over the taxpayers” and want Measure U to cover salary increases for public safety officials.
Measures U and Z require simple majorities for approval.
In Idyllwild, a two-thirds vote for Measure “W” would clear the way for a $130 annual flat per parcel tax benefiting the Idyllwild Fire Protection District.
No opponents were listed in campaign documents, which stated that the district hasn’t had an increase in parcel taxes since 1981.
In Moreno Valley, the city is asking voters to approve Measure “L,” which seeks to hike the citywide transient occupancy tax from 8 percent to 13 percent. A simple majority is needed for approval of the proposal, which supporters said would add much-needed revenue to the general fund for infrastructure and services. No opposition was listed.
There are five school bond proposals in play, the largest — Measure “O” in Riverside — seeks $392 million to complete earthquake retrofitting on several schools, as well as add “career labs” to other campuses and make extensive repairs to 30 schools throughout the Riverside Unified School District. The bonds require a 55 percent margin to pass and would be covered by property taxes.
Measure “V” covers schools throughout Elsinore Valley, including Lake Elsinore, Canyon Lake and Wildomar. The proposed $105 million issuance would cover repairs, upgrades and modifications.
“Aging classrooms, labs, libraries and instructional technology facilities — especially in older schools — simply aren’t up to current academic and safety standards,” according to a campaign statement.
No opposition was listed. The bond proposal requires a 55 percent margin to pass.
Measure “Q” would permit the sale of $135 million in school bonds benefiting the Menifee Union School District, while Measure “Y” would cover a $44.9 million bond issuance in San Jacinto, where supporters said improvements are needed at a dozen schools. Both proposals also require a 55 percent vote for ratification. No opponents were listed.
Finally, Measure “M” would benefit the Banning Unified School District with a $25.5 million sale of IOUs, covered by property taxes. According to backers, the city needs to purchase additional property and make improvements to existing structures within the district. It was noted in campaign documents that a $63 million bond sale was approved by voters in 2006. However, the city only issued about half that amount.
The measure needs 55 percent for approval.
— City News Service