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Tuesday June 7, 2022 — California Primary Election
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Local

City of Torrance
Measure SST - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results

Passing

17,996 votes yes (54.9%)

14,755 votes no (45.1%)

To maintain city services such as fire/ paramedic/ public safety/ 9-1-1 response, safe schools; protect local drinking water sources/ coastal waters from pollution; keep parks/ public areas safe/ clean; repair streets/ potholes; prevent thefts/ property crime; maintain senior services; and address homelessness, shall the City of Torrance ordinance be adopted establishing a ½¢ sales tax for general government use, generating approximately $18,000,000 annually until ended by voters, requiring public spending disclosure, independent audits, all funds locally controlled?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Patrick Q. Sullivan, City Attorney

On February 15, 2022, the City Council voted to put Measure SST on the June 7, 2022 general municipal election ballot. This Measure, if approved by the Torrance voters, would raise revenue for general City purposes by authorizing a
0.50%, or 1/2 cent, transactions and use tax (“sales tax”) within Torrance. A 0.50% sales tax rate equates to 50 cents per $100 purchased. The sales tax is paid by purchasers of goods in Torrance that are subject to sales tax. Sales tax is not collected on items such as prescription medications or food bought as groceries.

The total sales tax rate paid in Torrance, which includes the sales tax collected for the State of California and other public agencies and districts is 9.50% now. If the Measure is approved by the voters, the total sales tax rate in Torrance
will be 10.00% and will be in effect until ended by the voters. Under current state law, the sales tax rate may not be increased beyond the rate proposed by Measure SST without a future vote of the people.

The City estimates that Measure SST will generate approximately $18 million per year in new local revenue for use by the City. All revenues raised by Measure SST would remain in the City and would not be shared with the State, County
or any other agency. The City Council’s adopted ballot question states this new revenue would be used to maintain city services such as fire, paramedic, public safety, 9-1-1 response, safe schools, protect local drinking water sources and
coastal waters from pollution, repair streets and potholes, prevent thefts and property crimes, maintain senior services, address homelessness and other general governmental uses. Measure SST would impose a “general tax,” meaning that revenues raised from the sales tax would go into the City’s general fund to pay for any lawful City program, improvement, or service. Since Measure SST proposes a general tax, Article XIIIC of the California Constitution, commonly known as Proposition 218, requires that Measure SST be approved by a majority of voters voting on the measure (50% plus 1).

Accountability over revenue and expenditures from Measure SST will be part of the City’s annual independent audit, the report of which is available to the public. Financial information also will be disclosed in the City’s Annual Comprehensive Financial Report and other public documents. Measure SST also provides for a Citizens’ Oversight Committee that will receive reports on revenues and expenditures from the tax as well as reviewing proposed spending plans and reporting findings to the public.

A YES vote on Measure SST will authorize the Measure.

A NO vote on Measure SST will not authorize the Measure.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

Vote YES on Measure SST to keep Torrance SAFE AND STRONG!

- Safe neighborhoods and schools
- Strong quality of life
- Strict fiscal accountability

Voting Yes on Measure SST provides locally-controlled funding for local needs that cannot be taken away by Los Angeles County or Sacramento.

Strict accountability requirements such as public disclosure of all spending and independent audits ensure funds are used properly and every penny stays here in Torrance.

Torrance's aging city infrastructure and facilities including fire and police stations, community centers and park buildings are more than 60 years old and need repair. Plus a growing budget deficit made even worse by the pandemic
means deep cuts to public safety services, rapid 9-1-1 emergency response times, pothole and street repair, afterschool programs and more.

Vote YES on Measure SST to:

- Maintain fire, paramedic, public safety officers and rapid 9-1-1 emergency response
- Maintain school crossing guards and school resource officers that keep students safe
- Repair streets and potholes
- Prevent thefts and property crimes
- Keep parks and public areas safe and clean
- Keep local libraries open
- Address Homelessness
- Strengthen computer security system to protect residents' personal information from Cyber attacks
- Protect the City's financial stability
- Rebuild emergency reserves for disasters and emergencies

Mandatory Taxpayer Protections
- All funds must stay local to support Torrance city services
- LA County and the State cannot touch Measure SST funds
- Public disclosure of spending is required
- Mandatory annual audits and independent citizens' oversight
- Essentials like groceries and prescription medicine are exempt from the cost
- Out-of-town shoppers and visitors pay approximately 30% of the cost

Join Torrance's public safety leaders, businesses leaders, elected leaders, neighborhood leaders, long-time residents and vote Yes on Measure SST to keep Torrance SAFE and STRONG!

www.SafeStrongTorrance.org

JOHN NEU
Former Torrance Police Chief and Lifelong Torrance Resident

DR. ANIL S. MUHAMMED
TUSD School Board Member and Parent

LINDA BARNETT
Former Torrance City Treasurer and 50 Year Torrance Resident

HEIDI ANN ASHCRAFT
City Council Member, Former TUSD School Board Member, Local Small Business Owner

JACK WALSER
City Council Member, Former Torrance Area Chamber of Commerce Ambassador

Arguments AGAINST

The City of Torrance is broke. We're headed for insolvency and takeover by the State of California. Measure SST only postpones the reckoning.

INSUFFICENT REVENUE.

For the five years preceding the "pandemic", revenues grew 2.6% while expenditures grew 3.8%. During the pandemic, revenues declined but expenditures continue to grow. Only temporary federal bailouts keep the City solvent.

Measure SST is projected to bring in $18 million yearly. However, every year Torrance must spend $10 million for public safety to avoid police layoffs; $3 million for a 2% annual employee pay increase; another $5 million to replenish
reserves; and $1 million for cyber security to stop ransomware attacks.

Measure SST is not enough. There's no money for promised community improvements!

DEPLETED RESERVES

The City of Torrance has $8 million—about 10 days of operating expenses—in reserves. The recommended minimum is $40 million or two months of operating expenses. To remain solvent, 247 jobs have been left unfilled, including 60
police and 8 firefighter jobs, deferring $26 million.

Salaries take up 80% of the budget with police and fire salaries the largest share at 62%. 56% of employees make over $100,000. 92% make more than Los Angeles County's 2020 median income of $68,272.

60 police officers are being paid but not working. Fifteen are on furlough. The rest are working off sick leave, vacation and comp time before retiring.

SHIFT SPENDING.

Measure SST takes another $500 a year from families, hitting the poor hardest. Rather, close one of the two fire stations less than a mile apart on Hawthorne. Close five branch libraries—not the main library—which average 18 visitors a
week. Sell the land and replenish reserves. Use retiring police salaries for new hires when available. Require every new hire have a 401K—not a defined benefit—pension. Downsize. Eliminate most open positions.

Fix this without raising the sales tax.

Vote NO on Measure SST.

MARK STEPHENSON
Systems Analyst

MEGAN DOWLING
Software Engineer

G. RICK MARSHALL
Chief Financial Officer

Replies to Arguments FOR

The California Auditor Dashboard of High Risk Financially Distressed Cities rates Torrance #4 out of 423 California cities. Torrance is #1 in future pension costs. Current pension payments are 15% of Torrance's $322 million revenue stream. They're expected to rise to 22% by fiscal year 2028. Pension costs will drive Torrance's deficit for another decade.

https://www.auditor.ca.gov/local_high_risk/dashboard-csa

We don't begrudge former Police Chief Neu defending his yearly Torrance pension of $230,127.24 or even "doubledipping"– collecting his Torrance pension while earning another $434,810.00 yearly from the Los Angeles County District Attorney's office. Nor do we blame former City Treasurer Barnett defending her annual Torrance pension of $156,029.40 or husband Gene's separate Torrance pension of $202,508.13. https://transparentcalifornia.com.

We're surprised they signed Measure SST. Because excessive pensions are bankrupting Torrance. Is the REAL purpose of Measure SST to keep money flowing into their pockets?

For the past seven years the City Council foolishly drained City reserves rather than cut spending. They used our street easements as collateral. They borrowed money to fund current operating expenses. Unwilling to cut spending, they
handed you the bill.

Hand It Back! Vote No on Measure SST, the "silly sales tax".

MARK STEPHENSON
Systems Analyst

MEGAN DOWLING
Software Engineer

G. RICK MARSHALL
Chief Financial Officer

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

The opponents agree that Torrance needs additional funding and emergency reserves must be restored following the pandemic. However, we vehemently disagree that closing fire stations and libraries is the solution.

Consider these five FACTS:

FACT #1: The City of Torrance has already cut $20 million across the board. Additional cuts would directly impact essential public safety services. Voting Yes on SST prevents deep and devastating cuts threatening our safety and quality of life.

FACT #2: Measure SST keeps our tax dollars in Torrance. Torrance is one of the few cities not collecting a locally controlled sales tax. As a result, most sales tax collected in Torrance goes to LA County and Sacramento. Measure SST requires that 100% of the money stays in Torrance.

FACT #3: Measure SST is modest and brings Torrance's sales tax in line with neighboring cities. It adds just 50¢ to a $100 purchase and essentials like groceries and prescription medicine are exempt. Approximately 30% of the cost is paid by visitors shopping in Torrance.

FACT #4: With crime and homelessness increasing, now is not the time for more cuts to programs and services keeping Torrance neighborhoods safe, clean and well-maintained. Voting Yes on SST protects neighborhood police patrols, investigations of thefts and property crimes, rapid 9-1-1 emergency response, programs to address homelessness and more.

FACT #5: Measure SST requires strict fiscal accountability ensuring funds are spent properly, including mandatory public disclosure of spending, annual audits and an independent citizens' oversight committee.

Vote YES on SST for a SAFE AND STRONG TORRANCE!

FRANK SCOTTO
Former Torrance Mayor, Local Small Business Owner

RYAN MENDIVIL
President of Torrance Firefighters Association, Parent of Two Riviera Elementary School Students

TERRY RAGINS
Former TUSD School Board President, Long-Time Child Safety Advocate

KIRK ROSSBERG
Torrance Small Business Owner, Past Chair - Torrance Chamber of Commerce

PATRICK J FUREY
Mayor of Torrance, Former President of the Torrance Education Foundation, Former President of Local Homeowner Association

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