Hoping to address the city budget deficit, Vernon residents will be voting by mail on a business tax, parcel tax and a utility user’s tax during next week’s municipal election.
Mayor William J. Davis, whose five-year term is coming to an end, is up for reelection on the April 9 ballot. Davis has served as a Vernon city councilmember since 1981, and is running unopposed.
Lea esta nota EN ESPAÑOL: Residentes de Vernon Votarán Acerca de Tres Medidas Fiscales 
The mail-in-ballot requires that residents ensure their ballots are received by the city clerk’s office by 8 p.m. on Election Day. If it is too late to mail the ballots, residents have the option of dropping off their ballots at the City Clerks’ office between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m on Election Day.
If passed, Measures K, L and M would provide an estimated $8 million in revenue for the industrial city, which reportedly had a $12 million deficit in July 2012, according to a recent report by Vernon’s Independent Reform Monitor John Van De Kamp.
Measure K, a business license tax measure, will make the tax currently paid by business owners five times higher, and modify city contract terms to match how long it usually takes to complete a project in the city as opposed to just awarding quarterly or annual contract terms. If passed, the measure would provide an estimated $4.5 million in revenue.
Measure L would levy a 3-cent tax on every square foot of non-residential property in the city to fund public safety services. The 10-year tax would help fund fire, health and police services through 2023 and is expected to generate $1.9 million, according to city officials. The square footage that businesses are already being taxed for the Warehouse Parcel Tax would be excluded from the new tax.
As for Measures M, the Utility Users Tax, voters will decide if they want to approve a 10-year, 1% tax increase, which could generate $1.6 million for the city. The tax would be applied to water, gas, electricity and telecommunications usage for both residents and businesses. If approved low-income households and the disabled will be excluded from the tax.
The city council voted at its Jan. 9 meeting to place the measures on the ballot.
Several business owners opposed the tax measures when they three were introduced in January. They claim the increase in taxes would make it harder to do business in Vernon, which for decades had been touted as the most business friendly city.
One business owner also expressed concerns over the wording of the measures, which he said might not accurately represent the impact the tax will have on businesses in the city.