BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - Unofficial final Measure C Results have come in:
1,814 yes, 469 no.
79.46% yes, 20.54% no.
The parcel tax measure required a two-thirds majority vote. Results are unofficial.
California City is prepared for the third and final chance to pass a local parcel tax that would fund police and fire services in the city.
The tax has been around Cal City for decades, but always comes with a sunset clause; so far, in two other elections this year, voters have decided they don't want to renew it for the coming fiscal year.
The third attempt at getting the tax passed will be the final time.
The proposed tax charges up to $182.50 per parcel of land owned, and accounts for roughly $7 million of the city's general fund (close to 60%). Cal City's population is around 14,000, but there are over 50,000 parcels of land in underdeveloped portions of the city leftover from failed tries at expansion, meaning the people paying taxes on those parcels aren't living there and often can't vote.
In an effort to make the tax more attractive to voters, Measure C includes an ordinance that is intended to wean the city off the tax over the next six years, according to City Manager Robert Stockwell. "We agree that we will reduce the parcel tax every year as the sales tax, property tax and cannabis business taxes grow," Stockwell said.
If the tax failed, significant cuts would likely be coming to city services. In addition to "non-essential" services like parks and recreation potentially getting completely shut down, emergency services like the fire and police departments will see slashes to their staffing.
The fire department in Cal City currently runs four people per shift. If the tax failed, Chief David Goodell said that could be cut to two per shift in a time when their call volume is increasing. "We're at least twice as busy as we were, I believe 7 years ago," Goodell said on Monday.
Cal City Police Chief Eric Hurtado said that based on call volume and other departments, Cal City PD should have upwards of 32 officers. They currently have 10, and if the tax fails, it will be cut to four including Hurtado. "There's no way we can survive with just a chief and three officers," Hurtado said.