Letter to the Editor
South Pasadena voters will have the opportunity to ensure the continued good services provided by the City of South Pasadena when they go to the polls on November 6 and vote on Measure N, which, if approved would eliminate the city’s 7.5 percent Utility Users Tax (UUT).
This tax is a surcharge placed on customers’ utility bills and has been in place almost continuously since 1983. Voters have approved renewals multiple times over the past 35 years and it is currently approved until 2022.
Numerous California cities support their General Fund budgets with a UUT. For the past several years, multiple cities have faced efforts by outside groups intent on eliminating this important source of revenue. They have failed. Most recently and locally, repeal efforts failed in Glendale, Sierra Madre and Arcadia.
South Pasadena’s UUT is the second largest source of revenue for the General Fund. It generates $3.4 million each year, which accounts for 12 percent of the General Fund budget. Basic services are paid for with these funds, including Public Safety, Public Works and other city departments.
If Measure N to repeal the UUT passes in November, the city will lose $3.4 million in revenue every year. Since 72 percent of the budget pays for personnel, there will be no way to avoid drastic cuts in city staffing. Eliminated will be police officers, firefighters, Parks and Recreation staff, library staff and more. That will impact public safety, city services, and the quality of life of every South Pasadena resident.
I served as the city’s police chief from 2002 to 2010. During that time, the city was faced with declining revenues due to the Recession. Positions and services were cut to the bone. It was a difficult time to continue to provide the quality services that South Pasadena residents expect and deserve.
But since then, the city has recovered nicely. Streets and sidewalks are being repaired and replaced at a more frequent rate. Garfield Reservoir was rebuilt and work on other infrastructure projects is scheduled. South Pasadena continues to be one of the safest cities in Southern California. The services it provides, from the library to its parks and recreation programs, are second to none.
If residents want to maintain the outstanding quality of life they have in South Pasadena, they must vote “No” on Proposition N. Remember: a “Yes” vote repeals the UUT. A “No” vote preserves city services. A “No” vote will not result in a tax increase. It simply keeps the current tax, and the services it supports, in place.
Chief of Police (Retired)