Vernon Voters Give Ok to Tax Hikes

By EGP Staff Report

Vernon voters approved three tax measures in its April 9 election. (EGP 2012 Archive)

An estimated $8 million will be raised through three revenue generating measures approved Tuesday by voters in the city of Vernon.

Businesses and property owners in the city will see the biggest hit to their bottom line, with fee increases for utilities, business licenses and a parcel tax also getting the go-ahead from the city’s small pool of registered voters.

Forty-two votes were cast in the mail-in election in the city where more than 1,800 businesses employ upwards of 50,000 people, but only about 100 people live.

Residents will only be affected by the one-percent hike in the city’s utility fee. All three measures were approved by more than an 80 percent margin.

However, despite the impact to their bottom lines, businesses in the city did little to try and the defeat the measures, unlike in past elections when similar tax increases were on the ballot. This time around, the three ballot measures, K, L, and M were a compromise of sorts, with smaller proposed increases than earlier versions considered by the city council.

Facing an estimated $12 million revenue shortfall, city officials said failure to pass the tax measures would force them to slash city services, with most of the cuts being taken to the city’s police and fire departments.

Approval of the measures — K, which will raise $4.5 million a year by increasing business license fees; L, a 10-year special parcel tax on non-residential properties in the city that is expected to raise $1.9 million annually and M, a 1% tax hike on water, gas, electricity and telecommunications usage for 10 years to be paid by both residents and businesses that should bring in about $1.6 over its lifetime — will not fully satisfy the deficit, but is a significant step in that direction.

“The voters sent a message that they want to maintain their city’s level of public safety and provide funds to maintain critical infrastructure throughout their city,” Mark Whitworth, Vernon’s city administrator said Wednesday in statement announcing the election results.

Whitworth said he was pleased that residents recognized the important contribution the tax measures would make to the city’s general fund.

Voters on Tuesday also approved the reelection of William Davis for another 5-year term.

Davis, who ran unopposed, received 34 of the votes. He has served in the Vernon city council since 1981.

“I’m gratified by the vote of support and confidence from our city’s voters,” said Davis. “Their vote was an endorsement of our city’s continuing good governance reforms.”

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April 11, 2013  Copyright © 2012 Eastern Group Publications, Inc.

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