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Los Angeles County, CA November 5, 2002 Election
Measure O
Adoption of ordinance to continue Special Public Safety Tax
City of San Marino

2/3 Majority Approval Required

3,308 / 79.92% Yes votes ...... 831 / 20.08% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 26 10:38am, 100.00% of Precincts Reporting ( 10/ 10)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall Ordinance No. O-02-1162 continuing the Special Public Safety Tax for police, paramedic and fire services be adopted?

Impartial Analysis from Steven L. Dorsey, City Attorney, City of San Marino
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This ballot proposition extends for four years the existing City of San Marino Public Safety Tax for paramedic, police and fire protection services. The Public Safety Tax is a tax on each parcel of real property in the City and is authorized under the authority of Section 4 of Article XIII-A of the California Constitution. As a special tax, the proceeds can only be used for paramedic, police and fire protection services. The City may not use the funds for any other purpose.

Approval of the measure will extend the Public Safety Tax for a period of four years. The tax would expire at that time unless again approved by the voters.

The base and maximum rates in the measure were not increased above those included in the measure approved by the voters four years ago. The measure contains credits for parcels owned by senior citizens whose income does not exceed certain levels and, due to Proposition 13, for parcels purchased subsequent to March 1, 1975.

As a special tax, the measure requires a two-thirds vote of the persons casting ballots at the election. A "YES" vote on Measure O extends the existing Public Safety Special Tax and assessment amounts for four years. A "NO" vote would eliminate the Public Safety Special Tax at the end of the current fiscal year.

If you desire a copy of the Ordinance pertaining to Measure O please call the San Marino City Clerk's Office at (626) 300-0705 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you.

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Arguments For Measure O Arguments Against Measure O
Ballot Measure O renews San Marino's current assessment for police, fire and paramedic services. San Marino residents have previously approved these public safety assessments five times. The current assessment expires in 2003 unless renewed by your vote. Measure O will not change the existing formula for our current public safety assessment; it simply continues our support at the same levels.

If Measure O is not passed by 66-2/3% of San Marino Voters, we will lose approximately 34% of the police budget, and 43% of the fire/paramedic budget. We need and must maintain our present level of safety services.

Every penny of this assessment will remain right in San Marino to ensure our safety and protect our property and property values. It is local control of funds raised in San Marino for San Marino.

The City Council, various citizen committees and other independent advisors have investigated ways to obtain additional funds and to reduce city expenditures. It has been universally concluded there is no current practical alternative to the continuation of our present assessments. We certainly don't want to change the safe residential character of our city and the peace of mind that our outstanding police, fire and paramedic protection provides.

The City must maintain, by law and by prudence, required reserves for emergencies, self insurance and to ensure minimum working capital to avoid costly borrowing. The City does have the required reserve in its bank account, but has no "surplus" in its budget beyond that. Vote YES on Measure O.

Co-Chairman, San Marino Citizens For Public Safety

Co-Chairman, San Marino Citizens For Public Safety

Rebuttal to Arguments For
The "prophets of doom" will tell you that the City will self destruct if you do not renew this tax.

The fact is, that SM has perhaps the largest cash reserves, as a percentage of annual budget, of any City in the State; enough to fund the public safety services for more than three years.

Proponents claim that they have investigated ways to obtain new funds, and cut expenses, but that is a shallow excuse for taxation.

The City has missed numerous opportunities to obtain grant monies. Surrounding cities are masters of that game, and examples abound. Past expenditures must not be a starting point, fixed cost basis, which is mechanically escalated year upon year. It is prudent, and the City must adopt a zero base approach to annual expenditures whereby the justification of each line item expenditure is redetermined, and the amount of each expenditure is re-evaluated and verified as if it had never before existed.

Have no doubt, proponents of this tax measure will run this issue at you again and again, until you give them some money, probably in a low turn out election.

The City's approach to spending, employment, consultants, etc., is deplorable and must be changed.

Demand that change, and a new paradigm ... VOTE NO!!!

Management Consultant & San Marino Resident


Split the Public Safety elements from municipal services spending and permit the levying of a separate tax. This was the State Legislature's answer to the voter imposed Proposition 13 initiative limiting property taxes. How could voters refuse to fund essential services?

What they did not tell you is that every dollar collected through this tax, frees a dollar of general property tax revenue to be diverted to overall spending expansion, thus thwarting Proposition 13 spending limitations.

This is a parcel tax implemented in 1986, with the initial amount arbitrarily established by City districts. It has a built in 5% annual escalator provision. The Proposition 13 annual escalator is limited to 2%. State law establishes a sunset provision requiring voter reaffirmation every four years, hence, you can initiate a change in philosophy. In voting for this tax ask yourself: Do you agree with the 5% annual escalator? Do you agree that the City Council exempt the largest commercial business in the City from this tax (a $120K+ annual subsidy)? Might police, fire, and paramedic services be contracted out under the Lakewood plan at significant cost savings? For starters, fire protection services can be contracted from LA County (One of SM's own fire Captains did a thesis indicating significant cost savings)?

You pay twice for paramedic services: first with this tax, and then you are billed a second time if you have the misfortune to have to use the services. Is it fair to let them double dip?

This tax has become an annuity, but, there are many aspects of the situation that require critical voter analysis and change.

Force an accountability . . . Vote NO !!!

Management Consultant and San Marino Resident

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
- Contracting with outside agencies for Public Safety services has been investigated in the past and found to be disadvantageous for San Marino. Significant reductions in services and longer response times in emergency situations would be realized.

- The Fire Department's response to medical calls in San Marino amounts to 53% of the total calls for service from a dedicated fire/paramedic unit. Further, the City's paramedic program is one of five in Los Angeles County that operates under a Standard Field Treatment Protocol System allowing immediate patient care.

- Revenues from the paramedic program cover less than 8% of program costs. A significant portion of this revenue comes from non-residents.

- The net undesignated general fund reserve is about 77% of general fund revenues. If the public safety tax is not renewed, this reserve would be exhausted in a short period of time, due to outstanding infrastructure needs. The "reserves" exclude legally restricted funding earmarked for future projects. Additionally, the reserves drop by as much as $2 million during the year due to cash flow.

- Over the past two years, calls for service have increased by more than 6% in the Police Department and Fire Department while staffing levels and operating budgets have remained static.

Continuation of this assessment is critically important to the future safety of San Marino.

Vote Yes on Measure O

Co-Chairman, San Marino Citizens for Public Safety

Co-Chairman, San Marino Citizens for Public Safety

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Created: December 6, 2002 03:14 PST
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