Local Tax Election Results:
Voters in Four Areas Reject Parcel Taxes, Despite Skewed Ballot Language
In four special elections held August 25, voters rejected parcel taxes for special districts:
- In the Clements Rural Fire Protection District (San Joaquin County), voters rejected a parcel tax with varying rates for different types of property. The actual rates were the subject of controversy, as the text of the measure set the maximum rate at 0.03 cents and 0.05 cents per square foot for many properties, but district officials said the measure really meant 3 cents and 5 cents per square foot. The text of the ballot question did not mention the tax rates at all, but simply asked, “Shall the proposed ordinance 15-1 establishing a special tax for fire protection and suppression by Clements Rural Fire Protection District be adopted?” The owner of a 90-acre vineyard in the district estimated that the tax would have cost him $118,000 per year. Measure J received just 45.1 percent of the vote, leaving it far short of the two-thirds vote required for passage.
- Voters in the Arden Manor Recreation and Park District (Sacramento County) rejected a parcel tax that would have cost $84 per year for single-family residences and $504 per acre for commercial properties. Only 46.3 percent of the voters supported Measure C, despite a heavily skewed ballot question that read: “To improve the quality of life for the residents of Arden Manor Recreation and Park District, shall the District provide neighborhood security patrol services, improvements and renovations to parks, community buildings, and aquatics facilities, and additional park and facility safety features by assessing a parcel tax of $84 per residence, and adjusted rates for all other property types, for twenty years with 100% of the funds received allocated directly to the maintenance and improvement of District parks, facilities, and safety?”
- In the Higgins Area Fire Protection District (Nevada County), voters rejected a parcel tax that would have cost property owners various rates, including $141 per residential dwelling unit, and $45 per 1,000 square feet for certain industrial buildings. The ballot question did not mention the rates, but asked: “To maintain prompt local fire protection and emergency medical response services within Higgins Fire Protection District, to maintain current fire station staffing, and to prevent the immediate layoff of personnel so that firefighters are available to respond to all emergencies; shall a special property tax be imposed as established by District, without any cost-of-living adjustment, with all revenue staying in our community?” Measure V failed, receiving 59.2 percent of the vote. Voters in the district also rejected parcel taxes in 2012 and 2013.
- Voters in the Greenfield Fire Protection District (Monterey County) rejected Measure U, a parcel tax that would have cost property owners $73 per “tax unit” initially, with annual increases based on inflation. The measure was supported by 62.4 percent of the voters. The ballot question, written by district officials, asked: “To fund emergency medical services for quicker responses to heart attacks, vehicle accidents, and other emergencies, recruit and retain qualified personnel to provide necessary responsiveness to protect our homes and businesses from fire and other disasters, and plan for the District’s long term fiscal well-being, shall an annual special tax be authorized at a base rate of $73.00 per tax unit with a cost-of-living adjustment, and all revenue staying in our local community?”
September 16, 2015
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