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November 6, 2018 — California General Election
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Local

City of Bakersfield
Measure N - Majority Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passed

45,835 votes yes (50.05%)

45,738 votes no (49.95%)

100% of precincts reporting (262/262).

To prevent cuts/improve 911 emergency response, police/fire protection, anti-gang/drug units, neighborhood police patrols; rapid response to assaults, robberies, gang violence, home burglaries; crime prevention; address homelessness; retain, attract jobs/businesses; unrestricted general revenue purposes; shall the measure be adopted approving an ordinance establishing a one-cent sales tax providing $50,000,000 annually until ended by voters, requiring independent audits, citizens oversight, all funds for Bakersfield?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

City Attorney, City of Bakersfield

If approved by a majority of the voters, Measure N would enact an ordinance which would increase the sales tax in the City of Bakersfield by 1 percentage point from 7.25% to 8.25%. Stated another way, Measure N would increase the price of an item subject to sales tax in the City of Bakersfield by one cent for every one dol­lar of purchase. The tax would be levied on the same purchases as the existing sales tax and is anticipated to result in an additional $50,000,000 annually to the City of Bakersfield.

Revenue received will help fund top priorities identified by the community, includ­ing but not limited to maintaining and improving public safety services, keeping public areas safe and clean, retaining and attracting jobs/businesses, and work­ing with community partners to address homelessness. All of the proceeds of the sales tax increase proposed in Measure N would be locallycontrolled. None of the increased sales tax revenue would go to the State or County.

If approved, Measure N would require the Bakersfield City Council to appoint an independentcitizen’s oversight committee. The committee, as outlined in the ordi­nance, is created “to review the expenditure of revenues generated by the tax im­posed by this ordinance. The Committee shall advise City Council on goals and objectives associated with the revenues imposed by this ordinance.”

The Measure also requires City staff to produce an annual report and to process an annual audit of the revenues generated by the additional tax revenue and to have both of these items reviewed by the oversight committee.

Measure N is a “general” tax, which means the increased revenue is for unre­stricted general revenue purposes. While Measure N was placed on the ballot by a 2/3 vote of the City Council and is considered a “transactions and use tax”, it is commonly referred to as a salestax and can only go into effect if it is also approved by a majority of City of Bakersfield voters in the November 2018 election. If ap­proved, the tax increase would take effect on or about April 1, 2019 and the City would begin receiving revenues in June, 2019. If Measure N is approved, it would remain in effect until the voters decide to repeal or amend it.

A “YES” vote is a vote to approve a 1% increase in sales tax in the City of Bakers­field.

A “NO” vote is a vote against an increase in sales tax in the City of Bakersfield.

The above statement is an impartial analysis of the Measure. If you desire a copy of the Measure, please call the election official’s office at (661) 326-3767 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

We all want a bettercommunity, stronger neighborhoods, and a safer Bakersfield. Our city needs more police, investment in infrastructure and economic develop­ment, and a strategy for tackling homelessness. Vote YES on “N for a Safer Bakersfield.

YES on “N will:

Improve rapid response to assaults, robberies and gang violence

Improve response times for home burglaries and property crimes

Keep parks and public areas safe and clean

Keep our fire stations open

Retain and attract jobs & businesses

The city has the third highest rate of auto thefts in the country. The state continues to release criminals, putting more offenders back on our streets. Our homeless population went up in 2018 according to the county homelesscensus. We must in­vest in economic development to attract new businesses and jobs.

Without Measure “N Bakersfield will have to CUT police and fire services.

YES on “N keeps our fire stations fully staffed. In an emergency, seconds count - we need Measure “N so firefighters can quickly respond to emergencies and save lives.

YES on “N puts more police on our streets to fight drugs, youth violence and the growing gang epidemic.

YES on “N addresses the increasing number of homeless, while ensuring busi­ness districts, parks and public areas are safe/secure for everyone.

YES on “N includes strict fiscal accountability and taxpayer protections Including an Independent Citizen Oversight Committee and financial audits. By law, Mea­sure “N requiresthat every penny is spent in Bakersfield forvital public safety and city services.

We need Measure “N , without it, we will have to cut police, fire and cityservices.

Join the Vice-Mayor, City Council members, Public Safety, Business and Com­munity Leaders - keep Bakersfield Safe, Vote YES on “N !

s/Nicholas Ortiz, President & CEO, Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce s/Bob Smith, Vice Mayor, City of Bakersfield

— Kern County Registrar of Voters

Arguments AGAINST

Let’s look behind the ballot language.

The City desires to hire 100 additional police officers with the increased sales taxes in an effort to address local crime. But additional police officers alone will not end or reduce crime in our city.

Sacramento has abdicated its responsibility to protect citizens from known crimi­nals through passage of Propositions 47, 57 and AB 109, thereby allowing crimi-nalsto roam freely on our streets and in neighborhoods leaving few options for our law enforcement officers.

The cost of the tax increase is described as “ ...a one-cent sales tax... That im­plies your tax will increase a penny. However, you are voting to add 1% to your current sales tax rate of 7.25% making the rate 8.25%. That is a 13.8% increase in the tax rate.

It may interest you to know that the City’s 5-Year General Fund Outlook shows a deficit of $16.5 million in fouryears. That deficit is largely due to unprecedented in­creases in annual pension costs and would be paid from the proceeds of this sales tax increase. That is approximately 30% of the annual funds from the sales tax increase.

These pension costs are projected to increase again in both years five and six and then will most likely increase annuallyforthe foreseeable future. These unsustain­able pension costs are for pensions that you likely do not have and pensions that the City and its taxpayers cannot afford.

So, the cities are left with one easy option - raise your taxes.

This has to change. Defined benefit pensions are no longer a viable option as the backbone of public employees’ pensions and a change to a more stable and reli­able pension benefit and cost is long overdue.

Now you know the facts.

s/Ken Weir, Councilmember, City of Bakersfield

— Kern County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments FOR

Those who support increasing Bakersfield’s sales tax will no doubt state the in­crease is for ‘public safety’ issues that include hiring police and quality of life ... seemingly positive goals.

But if this truly is a ‘public safety’ issue, the city should have treated this tax in­crease as a ‘special tax’ and there would be no question that the increase in your tax dollars would be spent on public safety.

Which brings us to the “elephant in the room”. This sales tax increase is destined to pay for current Pension debt.

The burgeoning Pension debt facing Bakersfield for the next 30 years and beyond is so enormous it requires annual increases totaling $20 million over the next four years, and then millions more beyond that. These multi-million-dollar increases are projected to consume at least 30% of the new tax dollars you’ll pay if this sales tax increase is passed by the voters. And voters will very likely be asked to raise the sales tax again and again.

The alternative? The cost of public employees’ “defined benefit” pensions are fi­nancially unsustainable. Their benefit should be comparable to what most of you earn via a “defined contribution” (401 K, etc.). The City, our elected officials and city employees should resolve escalating pension debt before you are asked to vote for a 13.8% increase in the sales tax rate.

You are being asked to vote on a tax increase. Shouldn’t you know exactly how the taxes will be spent?

s/Ken Weir, Councilmember

— Kern County Registrar of Voters

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The Bakersfield Police Officers Association, 
Bakersfield City Firefighters Association, 
the Kern Taxpayers Association, 
The Bakersfield Association of REALTORS, and 
the Kern County Hispanic Chamber of Commerce

ALL AGREE that Measure “N” is needed to protect our public safety. Make sure you know the FACTS about Measure “N”.

FACT: Every cent will stay in Bakersfield- keeping ourcity safe and improving the quality of life for every resident.

FACT: Bakersfield is facing the consequences of Sacramento’s bad decisions, state bureaucrats have endangered our community by releasing criminals onto our streets, and local law enforcement cannot keep up without more resources.

FACT: We can’t change state law. So, we need to invest in Bakersfield. Measure “N” puts more police on the streets, commits more resources for combatting homelessness and invests in community policing. These targeted investments will deter crime, decrease response times, and improve quality of life.

FACT: This election is not about pensions, it’s about the kind of community we want to live in.

While otherCaliforniacities wavered, Bakersfield was one of the first local govern­ments to reduce retirement benefits. The City of Bakersfield is a leader in lean staffing, outsourcing services to the private sector, and operating in a fiscally conservative manner.

Measure “N” is critical to keeping ourfamilies, homes, businesses and parks safe. Join us, vote yes on Measure “N”.

s/Bob Smith, Vice Mayor, City of Bakersfield
s/Nicholas Ortiz, President & CEO, Greater Bakersfield Chamber of Commerce

— Kern County Registrar of Voters
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