Capitol Alert

Local tax, bond measures fare well

Julia Croteau of Rescue, drops in her Vote by Mail ballot in a drop box outside of the El Dorado County Elections Dept., on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, 2008.
Julia Croteau of Rescue, drops in her Vote by Mail ballot in a drop box outside of the El Dorado County Elections Dept., on Election Day, Tuesday, November 4, 2008. lsterling@sacbee.com

Local tax and bond issue measures fared well in California’s off-year election his week, albeit with a socioeconomic and/or geographic differential.

Voters in affluent metropolitan and suburban communities were especially willing to pay more taxes and authorize more bond spending, but those in poorer rural areas were less so, especially if they required two-thirds approval margins.

Michael Coleman of the California Local Government Finance Almanac charted Tuesday’s election results. He reported that, of 40 tax and bond measures on local city, special district and school district ballots, 29 passed.

They included 12 of 14 city tax measures requiring simple majority votes, 3 of 7 city special tax or bond measures requiring two-thirds votes, 2 of 5 special district taxes requiring two-thirds votes, 4 of 5 school district parcel taxes requiring two-thirds votes, and 8 of 9 school bond issues requiring 55 percent margins.

The only municipal bond issue to win voter approval was a $310 million measure in San Francisco to finance low- and moderate-income housing, responding to a burning controversy in the city over rising rents. Bonds for local recreation facilities were rejected by wide margins in San Carlos and Los Altos.

Nine cities sought voter approval for general sales tax increases and seven were successful in getting majority approval. The two rejections were in Delano and Modesto. All city hotel and utility tax measures were approved.

“There were more local revenue measures on ballots this November than any of the four prior gubernatorial or presidential elections,” Coleman concluded. “More were passed than ever before…”

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