Ed Donnelly, who knows all about successful political measures in town, is back at it urging South Pasadena voters to maintain the utility users’ tax that has been around since the early 1980s.
Yuki Cutcheon joins Donnelly as co-chair in the UUT effort. They are asking South Pasadenans to save city services and vote no on repealing the UUT.
Donnelly served on the successful Measure S and Measure SP campaigns, “which passed with incredibly overwhelming support,” stressed the South Pasadena resident, who is also the current president of the South Pas D.U.D.E.S., which takes on projects to enhance the community, and a two-time PTA president at South Pasadena Middle School.
In June 2009, Measure S, a parcel tax for local schools, was approved by 67.6%. of voters. In November 2016, a $98 million school bond, Measure SP, was given overwhelming 74.8 percent support.
The South Pasadenan asked Donnelly his thoughts on the utility users tax before voters.
What is the UUT? How much will residents have to pay?
South Pas voters first approved the UUT it in 1983 (Utility Users Tax) and it has been in place ever since. We all voted to renew it most recently in 2012. The average household pays about $0.16 a day towards the UUT.
This provides about 12% of the city’s General Fund and every penny stays here in South Pasadena, none of it goes to Sacramento. A group from outside the city has placed a measure on the ballot this November to take away a lot of the stuff that makes this a great place to live.
What is your role with the UUT and why do you believe it’s important to be a part of it? Provide me with some background about yourself.
I am gladly serving as co-chair of the South Pasadena Public Services Committee. The committee is comprised of 15 South Pasadena residents who are committed to defending the city from the repeal measure in November. All of the members of the committee have experience with previous campaigns including Measure L, Measure SP, Measure S and even the very first campaign to pass the UUT back in 1983 as well as the renewal effort in 2012.
In addition to the committee we already have over two dozen residents and local businesses that have committed their support through donations, endorsements and volunteering. We have already done a considerable amount of fundraising from local residents and businesses and will continue to be sure we reach every single voter in South Pasadena with our message before November 6.
How damaging to the city will it be if the UUT is repealed in November?
Repeal of the UUT will have an immediate impact on our quality of life here in South Pasadena and they will go into effect 138 days from now, the day after the election, November 7 2018.
The cuts will directly effect:
- Our Safety
- Our School’s Safety
- Our Senior Services
- Our Streets and Sidewalks
- Our Small Town way of life.
South Pasadena Fire Department Paramedics typically respond to a call within 4 minutes, the South Pasadena Police Department responded to over 35,000 calls in the past year in under 3.5 minutes and the South Pasadena Fire Department responds to fire and rescue calls in under 4.5 minutes in most cases. If their staffing is slashed these response times could become considerably longer putting South Pas residents at risk.
- We could also face the loss of the School Resource Officer. In the era of active shooters on school campuses this could be a grave mistake.
- We could also lose crossing guards at all three public elementary schools.
- Street and sidewalk maintenance may be reduced to emergency repairs only.
- The Public Library may face partial closure.
- Low cost meals for seniors may be reduced or eliminated.
- The Dial-a-Ride program for seniors may be discontinued.
- The Senior Center and other senior services may be significantly reduced.
- City support for the 4th of July Parade, Party Gras, the Summer Concert Series and The Eclectic Music Festival may be reduced or eliminated.
Every department in the City may face staffing reductions. While all of these cuts are possibilities, we will know exactly what we are up against in the coming weeks. This July, the City Manager will present a report with the specific budget cuts that will go into effect on November 7th if the repeal passes so that voters will know exactly what will be lost.
Now, some folks will say that city salaries are currently too high and cutting them instead of services would help. You can go to TransparentCalifornia.com right now and see that this is untrue. Compare the wages of our city employees to neighboring communities and you will see they are entirely reasonable and in some cases are lower than what our neighbors pay.
Other folks will say that the looming CalPERS pension obligations need to be addressed by reducing city services. This is disingenuous at best as it ignores ongoing negotiations by all California municipalities who are currently negotiating with CalPERS in Sacramento to revise their policies and reducing revenues now is fiscally irresponsible when faced within growing financial obligations.
We need fiscal responsibility NOW, those who ask for the repeal of the UUT are asking for fiscally irresponsible choices to be made. This is why we are asking South Pasadenans to Save our Services and VOTE NO on repealing the UUT.
What makes South Pasadena the special community it is today?
As I talk to other residents of South Pasadena one thing becomes clear pretty quickly, no matter their age or background, everyone recognizes this is a special place.
- It is a safe place for our kids to walk to school and a safe place for our seniors to walk through Garfield Park. It is a safe place for ALL. Crime is remarkably low thanks to the efforts of Chief Miller and the SPPD.
- Members of our community are engaged and actively participate in life here.
- On July 4th half of the town is in the parade and the other half lines Mission Street to watch.
- Our public schools are among the top 5 districts in the state.
- Our first responders at SPPD and SPFD are phenomenal, our award-winning Public Library has been a community institution for over 110 years.
- Our civic groups including SPARC, SPEF, The Oneonta Club, Kiwanis, The SP Preservation Foundation, SP Beautiful, The Rotary, SP Tournament of Roses, AYSO, Wine & Song/The Blue Guitar, SP Little League, WISSPA, Vecinos, SPHS & SPMS Boosters, D.U.D.E.S., Lion’s Heart, Boy Scouts, Girl Scouts, The YMCA, CERT, The Chamber of Commerce and more are a testament to how actively our residents support each other. You simply will not find this in other communities.
- If the UUT repeal passes, what will South Pasadena become?
If the UUT is repealed we may be less physically safe, our seniors may be less able to be active and less able to interact in the community, our kids may be at greater risk as they go to and from school, our streets and sidewalks, many of which were installed nearly 100 years ago will continue to age and may not be maintained, repaired or replaced.
The library may be essentially closed. All services at City Hall including planning, building and public works may become much slower. A good chunk of what makes South Pas special will be missing.
Sure to some folks that will sound like a scare tactic, but it is NOT. We are discussing FACTS, not “Fake News” that the forces from outside of town pushing the repeal of the UUT would like you to believe.
Many people in town know you as the founder of the D.U.D.E.S. What is the organization about and why is it so important to our community? You’re a pretty proud D.U.D.E. in South Pasadena. It sounds like you’d be even prouder if the UUT repeal doesn’t pass. Can you please explain?
I was one of the Founding members of “Dads Uniting Dads in Education and Service” (D.U.D.E.S.). In 2012 we were a handful of local dads that recognized how fortunate we were to live here and how fortunate we were to be raising our kids in South Pasadena. From that handful of founders we grew to over 300 active members in less than a year later.
We did this by creating fun opportunities for fathers to engage in the community outside of scouts or coaching. Since then we have completed dozens of our own service projects, partnered with other organizations like the South Pasadena Preservation Foundation, SPEF, South Pasadena Tournament or Roses, the Kiwanis, All 5 PTAs, and the Middle School Boosters to cooperate in fundraising, host community events and completing service projects.
And our work is not limited to South Pas. Last year in the aftermath of hurricane Maria we pooled our resources to provide portable coolers for insulin to 3 dozen diabetic patients in San Sebastian Puerto Rico.
I am incredibly proud of all the hard work the D.U.D.E.S. do.
We work hard to:
- Conserve what is great about South Pasadena.
- Improve the things that need to be improved.
- Address the challenges our community will face in the future.
My work with the D.U.DE.S., with the PTA, as well as with the Measure S and SP campaigns and now SPARC and the South Pasadena Public Services Committee is an extension of the pride and love I have for this community. We are all immensely fortunate to live here and I want to ensure that we preserve everything that makes South Pasadena great.
Voting NO on the repeal of the UUT goes a long way toward saving the things that make this town the unique place it is.
If you love living in South Pasadena like I do, and you want to keep our town the amazing place it is, vote NO on the UUT Repeal.