The City of Paso Robles City Council voted Tuesday night to place a local essential services and local control measure on the November ballot.
This would empower voters to decide how to best address current and future needs of the community.
In a recently conducted community survey, as many as 65% of respondents indicated they would support this simple majority requirement measure, which would provide local funding for 12 years, via a 1 cent sales tax, to maintain city services the community has indicated are priorities.
“Paso Robles by tradition is a self-reliant community,” said Paso Robles City Manager Tom Frutchey. “If enacted, this measure will ensure we are investing to prevent further cuts to core services important to our community. We know we cannot expect the state or federal governments to help address our unique, local needs.”
If enacted, the Measure will address local emergency, recovery, and accountability priorities identified by the community through the Join the Conversation community survey and engagement efforts the City has been conducting for several months. Based on nearly 1,000 community responses, top service needs and priorities were identified as:
- Fire and Emergency Response Services
- Public Safety and Police Services
- Street Repair and Maintenance
Additional priorities included keeping tax dollars local, ensuring accountability, and reporting back to the community the benefits their investment achieved.
“The Fire Department is overextended; too often we are having to respond to multiple emergencies at the same time. There were over 700 times last year when both engines were on a call and unavailable to respond to additional 911 calls. Currently, we are meeting response time goals only 56% of the time. Without this measure we will lose six firefighters and the paramedic squad. This is not sustainable. We need this measure to upgrade our response capabilities, be fully staffed and equipped, and reduce the community threat of wildland fires,” said Fire Chief Jonathan Stornetta. “We remain at high risk of a devastating fire, like those that ravaged Santa Rosa and Paradise.”
Police Chief Ty Lewis shared that, “The state continues to release parolees into our community, resulting in rising property crime, and gang activity from surrounding communities is decreasing personal safety in Paso Robles. The City has seen a 40% increase in Police calls for service in the past five years alone, while the Department’s staffing remains below 2007 levels. We must recruit and retain qualified officers to address essential policing needs and position the Police Department to meet the current and future needs of our community. As recent events have shown, including an active shooter incident, it is critical we have a well-trained department adequately equipped to keep the community safe.”.
“The City’s streets are our most expensive asset. Currently, streets are aging faster than we can repair them. This imposes costs on our residents, by adding wear and tear on their vehicles and adding time to every trip. Since our streets aren’t been repaired when they should be, the eventual repair costs are higher than they could be. By investing more now, we can actually save residents money in the long run,” said Public Works Director Dick McKinley.
If enacted, the Measure would enact a one-cent sales tax increase for 12 years unless ended sooner by voters, generating locally controlled funding. Oversight components would include an independent citizen oversight committee, public disclosure reports of all spending, and annual financial audits. No funding generated by the measure could be taken by the State.