Tuesday's election proved once again that even in these tough times, voters are willing to pay more if there's a clear public need in their hometowns.
Across California and the Sacramento region, most local tax and bond measures prevailed, often by comfortable margins.
In the city of Sacramento, voters overwhelmingly approved an increase in the city sales tax from 7.75 percent to 8.25 percent enough to raise about $28 million a year to start restoring basic services. We recommended a vote against Measure U, arguing that City Hall first needed to do more to trim labor and other costs. But after five years of budget cuts slashed police, fire, parks and other services, it's understandable why most voters supported the measure.
Voters also authorized two bond measures totaling $414 million for renovations and upgrades in the Sacramento City Unified schools. Bond measures also passed in the Folsom Cordova ($68 million) and San Juan ($350 million) school districts. And in Davis, voters endorsed a parcel tax extension for schools.
There were exceptions. A utility user tax hike in Citrus Heights failed to get the required two-thirds majority vote, as did a parcel tax for libraries in El Dorado County.
The trend goes statewide. Of the 240 local revenue measures on Tuesday's ballots, 171 appear to have passed, according to the preliminary tally by Michael Coleman, fiscal policy adviser to the League of California Cities. That includes 85 of 106 school bond proposals and 52 of 66 general tax measures that required only a majority vote. The passage rate for school bonds was in line with the trend since 2001, while that for general tax measures was somewhat higher.
However, local officials should not take the good will of voters for granted. Local governments must keep their promises of accountability and make sure every penny given to them by taxpayers is spent wisely. Otherwise, the next time officials go to the ballot, they're not as likely to be as successful.
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