South Pasadena voters passed Measure A Tuesday night by a wide margin, authorizing the city to levy an additional sales tax of 0.75 percent for general purposes, increasing the tax in the city from 9.5 percent to 10.25 percent.
The latest numbers show 2,194 were in favor (66.38 percent) of Measure A while 1,111 (33.62 percent) were opposed.
What it means to the consumer, explained Dean Serwin, co-chair of the Yes on A Committee alongside Yuki Cutcheon, is about 38 cents on a $50 purchase.
During public forums, Serwin pushed the message that the tax was critical because “South Pasadena faces a $1 million deficit for the next fiscal year, growing to $2 million in five years.”
Serwin said rising costs, including increasing public employee pension (CALPERS) funding requirements, along with labor and material, combined with flat or decreasing revenue from property taxes and the UUT are responsible for the shortfall.
“Cutting costs means cutting staff and services for things we care about – like police, fire, and paramedic officers and support, infrastructure maintenance and repairs, and seniors, the library and our parks,” Serwin explained. “And because expenses are increasing every year, additional cuts would be required each year.”
The numbers in Tuesday’s election were in accordance with a survey before residents went to the polls showing 68 percent of South Pasadenans support a sales tax increase. Serwin stressed that only 1 percent of the 9.5 current sales tax revenue comes back to the city’s general fund.
“Measure A will nearly double that amount, generating an additional $1.5 million per year, every penny of which will stay in South Pasadena,” he said “And these funds are subject to oversight by a mandated annual independent financial audit.”
“I want to first thank everyone who came out and voted in yesterday’s election,” said South Pasadena Mayor Marina Khubesrian. “We are very pleased with the results. “The passage of Measure A will allow the city to close its budget gap in the short term and set us on the road to fiscal stability. We have more work to do. This is a first step in the City’s long-range financial sustainability plan. The Measure A funds will help significantly toward maintaining the level of city services that make South Pasadena such a special place to live and work.”
The mayor passed along her gratitude to those who volunteered as part of the Yes on A Committee, commending the leadership of both Serwin and Cutcheon.
“Thank you as well to my City Council colleagues for their leadership and teamwork, which is bringing about a more sustainable financial future for our community,” said Khubesrian. “Thank you as well to our talented and hard-working city employees — this vote is a strong endorsement of the high-quality of service provided by our City departments.”
Khubesrian also paid tribute to South Pasadena City Manager Stephanie DeWolfe and her management team “for the robust public outreach to residents on the city’s budget and other long-term planning efforts,” she said.
A measure to make the city clerk an appointed position was also on the ballot for South Pasadena voters and it was approved.
On Measure C, 1,977 (61.38) were in favor while 1,244 (38.62) were opposed.
In simple terms, explained by the website Ballotpedia: A yes vote was a vote in favor of making the city clerk an appointed position (to be appointed by the City Council) rather than an elected position. A no vote was against making the city clerk appointed position, thereby continuing to elect city clerks.
Khubesrian said Measure C will align South Pasadena with the majority of California cities “that have transitioned from an elected City Clerk to an appointed, trained professional,” she said.