What is Measure E?

Measure E will appear on the March 3rd ballot. The specific ballot language that Yucaipa voters are being asked to vote on is:

To avoid cutbacks in Yucaipa’s existing paramedic program and increased response times on emergency 911 calls; generate funds from Yucaipa visitors to benefit local residents; enhance police and fire protection; increase local youth and senior services; and fund other general services provided throughout the City like streets and parks, shall the ordinance be adopted to increase the local sales tax by one-half percent; generating approximately $2,000,000 annually, with citizen oversight, mandatory audits, and public reporting?

Assuming Measure E receives simple-majority support needed for passage, this will increase the local sales tax on purchases made within the City limits from 7¾% to 8¼%.

100% of the revenues generated through a sales tax will remain in the community to benefit local residents.

What does a ½-percent increase in local sales tax mean to those who shop in Yucaipa? For every $10,000 of purchases on taxable items (e.g., over a period of one year, for example), the added cost for purchases made in that year will be $50.

Why are these funds needed?

Beginning fiscal year 2015-16, revenues to operate and maintain Yucaipa’s Paramedic Emergency Services Program were no longer sufficient to cover annual expenses; thus, for the past four years, the City’s paramedic program has been underfunded. In 2004, Yucaipa voters passed Measure Y, entitled “Paramedic Emergency Medical Services Special Tax”, which was intended to cover the costs of providing these 911 emergency services for the following decade (10 years); however, there was no CPI (escalator) included in this funding Measure to control for inflation. As a result, “…the (current) Public Safety budget imbalance will grow from an estimated $1 million annually this year (a $725,000 shortfall for paramedics, and a $275,000 shortfall for police) to an estimated $1.3 million next year, $1.7 million the following year, and so on,” City Manager Ray Casey explains in a Letter to Neighbors, which is posted on the City’s website. Therefore, unless additional funding can be secured, the City will be forced to make significant cutbacks in its Paramedic Emergency Services Program and/or other programs; in turn, increasing emergency response times for 911 calls, which will impact all Yucaipa residents, especially seniors.

Why did City officials select a 1/2-percent increase in the City’s sales tax vs. increasing the existing Special Assessment?

Beyond eliminating the deficit spending that present exists with the City’s Paramedic Program (thus, no cutbacks in paramedic services will be necessary), there are a host of reasons for asking local voters to authorize a half-cent increase in Yucaipa’s sales tax vs. asking voters to authorize an increase in the annual Special Assessment that presently funds these emergency services. First, increasing the amount of the annual special assessment that presently funds the City’s Paramedic Program would amount to increasing property taxes; and, it would not allow for both residents and non-residents to share in the cost of providing these critical services. Furthermore, as explained in a Neighbor’s Letter from the City Manager Ray Casey (which is posted on the City’s web site), “Since the last increase was 16 years ago, a significant increase would be required (nearly doubling in the coming year) in order to fully fund paramedic services.” Based upon the findings from a recent survey of Yucaipa voters, this amount of increase far exceeds the local electorate’s THRESHOLD of willingness to pay. There are other reasons:

  1. The monies from a half-percent increase in the local sales tax will not only ensure that paramedic emergency services in Yucaipa will remain at their present level (thus, no cutbacks in paramedic services will be necessary), but these monies can also be used to provide and/or enhance paramedic services, as well as other City services, such as public safety (e.g., increasing police and fire protection), services for local youth and seniors, street maintenance, maintaining community and neighborhood parks, among other general services that impact the quality of life for residents throughout the community.
  2. Most local taxes are paid by property owners; a sales tax is paid by everyone 
who shops in Yucaipa, whether they are property owners, renters, or visiting the City from a neighboring community or beyond. “This approach is far more equitable and fair to all stakeholders, because paramedic services are provided not only to residents, but also to visitors to Yucaipa,” states Mayor David Avila.
  3. A sales tax is one of the few mechanisms that brings money from outside the community into Yucaipa when visitors to the City frequent a local restaurant, buy gas for their automobile, and/or shop at local stores. These monies can be used to provide and enhance critical services being provided to Yucaipa residents through local government.
  4. At the present time, Yucaipa residents are subsidizing visitors to the City when these individuals encounter a 911 emergency.
  5. And, there will be no need for a CPI (annual escalator to control for normal inflation), since the revenues from a sales tax will increase, over time…as the City continues to grow AND new businesses and commercial enterprise are attracted to the community. As a result, this revenue stream will provide the City with a stable source of revenue, going forward.

Will there be citizen oversight?

YES. Measure E requires the City to form a Citizens’ Oversight Committee, comprised of five Yucaipa residents, to monitor ALL expenditures from Measure E funding. This body will produce an annual report that will be made public. Further, the City will commission annual audits of these expenditures by an independent accounting firm, which will be posted on the City’s website and made available to the public upon request.

Did City officials reach out to local voters prior to making place Measure E on the local ballot?

YES. The City commissioned a scientific survey of local voters in September 2019. This survey made clear that most Yucaipa residents (approximately 80%) DO NOT want the paramedic emergency services cut back; only, 21% of respondents said they would prefer cutbacks, rather than authorizing an increase in either the annual special assessment or local sales tax. According to the survey, the top three concerns on the collective mind of Yucaipa voters (rank-ordered) are: (i) providing assistance to the homeless in Yucaipa, (ii) keeping crime out of the City, and (iii) proper maintenance of local streets and roads. The two top concerns regarding the level of service being provided through the City’s Paramedic Emergency Services Program are:

  • Reducing response times to a 911 emergency call
  • Avoid having to make cutbacks in paramedic and/or fire protection services

The City Manager, Ray Casey, said that the findings from this scientific survey played a central role in the City Council’s decision to place Measure E on the ballot; thus, allowing Yucaipa voters to decide whether or not the City should address the deficit spending situation through a modest increase in the local sale tax and, if authorized by Yucaipa voters, avoid cutbacks on the level of emergency services presently being provided to the community.