Mayor Jeff Slowey knew it would be a tough sell, asking Citrus Heights voters to pass a tax increase on their utility bills.
Slowey and Sue Frost, who won two Citrus Heights City Council seats in Tuesday's election, supported the idea as a way to fix roads and beef up the police force in the 15-year-old city.
But in the end, Slowey was right. Measure K, which would have raised the utility users tax 1.75 percent for 10 years, got smacked down by Citrus Heights voters.
As of Wednesday, the ballot count showed 56 percent voted against the measure.
"Folks didn't see the urgency," Slowey said of the defeated tax increase proposal. "Raising people's taxes is tough to do."
Slowey, who won his third term on the council with 25.6 percent of the vote, said many voters told him they would rather tap into the city's $33 million in reserves than enact a new tax.
Slowey now hopes to use some of that surplus for police and roadways.
Frost, a mortgage broker and newcomer to the council, was barely behind Slowey in Wednesday's tally with 25.5 percent of the vote.
She said many of Citrus Heights' roads are in "terrible condition, to the point where they are damaging cars."
Frost agreed the city's reserves may have contributed to Measure K's defeat. A successful ballot measure to raise $350 million in bond funds for San Juan Unified School District also may have diverted attention from city needs, Frost said.
"Asking for money from voters at this time is hard," she said. "People have been through a lot, and they're not in a mood for any more expenses."
While Citrus Heights is a fairly new city, it inherited an elderly infrastructure, Slowey said, with some roads anywhere from 30 to 60 years old.
The utility tax hike would have raised an estimated $2 million a year, with half of that going to hire five new police officers for the 85-member force and half going to repair and resurface the city's residential streets, Slowey said.
The city committed to pitching in another $1 million a year from its reserves for 10 years to resurface 628 of the city's 1,100 streets.
The extra police officers would have mainly been focused on quelling gang-related activity and overseeing the 60 new state prison parolees registering in Citrus Heights, Slowey said. The city of 84,000 residents also has 500 gang members identified by law enforcement and 200 registered sex offenders that need monitoring, he said.
Frost said the council will get creative about stretching dollars in the face of the Measure K defeat. Because of a 25-year agreement with Sacramento County, the city still will not get its full amount of property taxes for another 10 years, she pointed out.
"We'll just have to use some of the reserves, fix the roads that need it the most and move on," she said.
In another relatively new city, Elk Grove voters made Gary Davis their first directly elected mayor. He won with almost 50 percent of the vote, with the next vote-getter, council incumbent Sophia Scherman, garnering 14 percent.
In a tight Rancho Cordova City Council contest for three seats, incumbent David Sander was winning with almost 33 percent of the vote. Incumbent Robert McGarvey captured the second seat with 27 percent, while newcomers Brian Danzl and Donald Terry were jockeying for the third position, with 19.9 percent and 19.7 percent, respectively.
Incumbent Jeff Starsky was the top vote-getter in a race for two seats on the Folsom City Council, with 39 percent of the vote. Ernie Sheldon was hanging onto his seat in second place with 37 percent.
And in a close contest for two seats on the Galt City Council, Mayor Barbara Payne had 27.9 percent of the vote, while newcomer Curt Campion had the second most votes, 27.8 percent.
Editor's Note: This article has been changed from the print version to accurately state the number of gang members and sex offenders in Citrus Heights. Corrected on Nov. 8, 2012