Voters will go to the polls in a special election in South Pasadena on Tuesday to decide on two issues — Measure A and Measure C.
Measure A would add a three-quarter-cent local sales tax, revenues from which will go into the city’s general fund.
Measure C would eliminate the elected city clerk’s position, now ceremonial, and delegate full authority of the office to an appointive position, to be named by the City Council. The city now has an appointed “chief city clerk” who handles most of the day-to-day duties of the office. That appointed position would serve, simply, as “city clerk” if Measure C passes and eliminates the elected role.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m., and there will be three polling stations in South Pasadena on Election Day:
- The War Memorial Building, 435 Fair Oaks Ave.
- The Library Community Room, 1115 El Centro St.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1919 Huntington Drive.
There are three ways to return vote-by-mail ballots:
• By regular mail (no postage necessary).
• They can also be dropped off at the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 1414 Mission St., second floor, 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
• Or they can be returned to any of the official Vote By Mail Ballot Dropoff Locations within L.A. County. (Locations can be found at https://www.lavote.net/home/voting-elections/voting-options/vote-by-mail/vbm-ballot-drop-off)
Detailed information on both ballot measures can be found on the city’s website at: https://www.southpasadenaca.gov/Home/Components/News/News/1371/714?backlist=%2f
But here’s brief primer on the nuances of each measure:
Why It’s On The Ballot: South Pasadena faces a budget deficit. The shortfall to pay expenses is estimated at $1 million in the next fiscal year and is expected to grow to about $2 million in five years. “Increases in operating costs, unfunded pension liabilities, infrastructure and technology” are its cause, according to the city’s election information of Oct. 16.
In June 2019, city officials reviewed a research survey of voters about the city’s quality of life. Eighty-five percent indicated they were satisfied with the city’s services. Some 68 percent said they would definitely or probably support a three-quarter-cent sales tax on the ballot.
If Measure A is approved, the sales-tax rate will go from 9.5 percent to 10.25 percent, the state maximum. Sales taxes would be paid by residents and visitors.
The tax proceeds would belong to the city and will not be shared with the county or state.
Ballot Language: “To maintain 9-1-1 emergency response times, including to home break-ins and thefts; neighborhood, school and park police patrols, fire/paramedic services, fire station operations, emergency preparedness; retain/attract local businesses; maintain streets/infrastructure; provide other general services and maintain City finances, shall the City of South Pasadena establish a 3/4¢ sales tax providing approximately $1,500,000 annually until ended by voters, all funds remaining in South Pasadena?’’
What a “Yes” Vote Means: If a majority vote “yes,” the city will enact a three-quarter-cent sales tax. It would remain in effect until amended or repealed by voters.
Revenues to the city from the new sales tax are estimated to be $1.5 million annually. This will be sufficient to fill the budget gap for the near future. However, additional revenues would be necessary in order to balance budgets after that.
If the measure passes, no other local or regional agency would be permitted to ask South Pasadena voters for an additional increase beyond the state maximum. At that point, the city’s sales tax will have met that maximum. The city would become one of almost 30 cities in Los Angeles County to increase the tax for local purposes.
What a “No’’ Vote Means: If a majority vote “no,” the city will not enact a three-quarter-cent local sales tax. With the predicted budget deficits, the city would be faced with finding new sources of revenue soon or reducing programs and services.
On upcoming ballots, South Pasadena voters may be asked by governmental agencies outside the city to approve the same sales-tax increase. Funds assessed for other agencies would not be dedicated to South Pasadena services, according to the city’s election information.
Why It’s On The Ballot: The city clerk position in South Pasadena was an elected, full-time position until 2013, when the council voted to bifurcate the role. According to Assistant to the City Manager Lucy Demirjian, a full-time appointed position was created for the appointee to serve as a management professional with specialized training and education to carry out the required duties of the office.
The duties currently carried out by the appointed position require election-law knowledge, technical skills, records-management expertise, Public Records Act requirements and additional requirements, all of which the previous elected position carried out. The elected role became a part-time ceremonial position that receives a monthly $300 stipend to attend council meetings and sign council documents — the same monthly stipend that council members receive.
The current elected city clerk is Evelyn Zneimer, an attorney, whose ceremonial duties include signing documents and administering oaths. No specific credentials, training, experience or education are required for the position. The elected city clerk does not report to the city manager or the City Council. The elected city clerk is accountable to the voters.
The full-time appointed employee, whose title is chief city clerk, manages the City Clerk’s Division within the Management Services Department. That position is now held by Maria Ayala. The chief city clerk’s office has numerous functions, including preparing materials and handling logistics for City Council meetings. The chief city clerk also oversees city elections. Other duties include responding to public records requests and ensuring that required filings are made by political campaign representatives and officials.
City clerks are credentialed through the International Institute of Municipal Clerks. The chief city clerk is a full-time employee with a salary and benefits similar to those in comparable cities. The city manager now appoints the chief city clerk and evaluates his or her performance.
Ballot Language: “APPOINTMENT OF CITY CLERK: Shall the office of city clerk be appointive?’’
What a “Yes” Vote Means: Measure C would eliminate the position of the elected ceremonial city clerk upon the expiration of Zneimer’s term in 2022. The position of the current appointed full-time chief city clerk would then be, simply, “city clerk.’’ Ceremonial duties would be assumed by the person in the role. The South Pasadena city clerk would be appointed instead of elected, as is the case in 70 percent of California cities.
If Measure C passes, the clerk would be selected by the City Council. Recruitment, hiring and evaluations would be handled by that body, unless it transfers those functions to the city manager.
What a “No’’ Vote Means: If a majority of voters indicate “no,” the positions of the elected ceremonial city clerk and the appointed full-time chief city clerk will remain unchanged.
The elected city clerk’s position would appear on the South Pasadena ballot every four years, and voters would continue to decide who that will be. The chief city clerk will continue to be recruited, hired and evaluated by the city manager.
Update: 3 Poll Locations Available in Nov. 5 Election
SOUTH PASADENA, (Calif.) – South Pasadena will have three polling places available to voters in the Nov. 5 special election, not two as previously stated.
The City distributed voting information on Thursday that included two polling locations, the War Memorial Building and Library Community Room.
City officials have since learned of a third location, 1919 Huntington Dr., that was not included in correspondence from the County.
The three polling places in South Pasadena will be:
- War Memorial Building, 435 Fair Oaks Ave. Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Library Community Room, 1115 El Centro. Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, 1919 Huntington Dr. Hours: 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Registered voters may vote at any of the above locations.
Vote-By-Mail Ballots can be:
- Returned by mail (no postage is necessary)
- Returned to the City Clerk’s Office at City Hall, 1414 Mission St., 7:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Thursday.
- Returned to any of the official Vote By Mail Ballot Drop Off Locations (within L.A. County). Find a drop-off location here.