Firefighters in favor of the proposed parcel tax are outspending opponents connected to the City Council, according to the latest financial documents submitted to the Hesperia City Clerk's office.
The battle concerns Measure F, an $85 parcel tax to help fund the Hesperia Fire District. The district, in turn, pays for the city's fire service, contracted through the San Bernardino County Fire Department.
Should Measure F fail, the City Council will have to cut the equivalent of nine firefighter/paramedics, according to a vote council members took to put Measure F on the ballot, although the exact cuts would be decided later.
If approved, the parcel tax would expire after five years and could only be renewed by another ballot measure.
The primary funding source for the fire district, residents' property taxes, has dropped by 24 percent in the past three years, following the bursting of the housing market bubble.
Measure F needs to be approved by two-thirds of voters, and will replace that lost property tax revenue — and more. The additional revenue will also help repay money paid from the city's general fund to cover the fire district's losses in the 2010-11 fiscal year.
On Oct. 12, CHT Investment of Newport Beach contributed $5,000 to the Hesperia Free Press Committee to Oppose Measure F Hesperia 2011 Fire Safety Tax Measure — the political action committee run by Al Vogler, the husband of former mayor Rita Vogler.
The committee spent money on the campaign for the first time during the reporting period, according to financial statements submitted Oct. 27, covering the period between Sept. 25 and Oct. 22. Vogler's group spent $7,026, including $5,715 on signs and flyers and $1,296 on postage and shipping costs.
Vogler's committee is not the only group spending money in an attempt to defeat Measure F: The campaign committee of Hesperia City Councilman Russ Blewett has come back to life, both raising and spending money on the campaign. Blewett's Russ Blewett for City Council 2010 committee raised $19,000 between July 1 and Oct. 22, including 10 seperate donations totalling $5,000 contributions from Newport Beach investment companies. His committee has spent $4,264 so far during the campaign, including $2,069 on newspaper ads (including full-page ads in the Hesperia Star).
On the other side, the San Bernardino County Professional Firefighters No. 1230110 has doubled their contribution to Hesperia Citizens for Public Safety - Yes on Measure F, Sponsored by San Bernardino County Professional Firefighters, with another $10,000 contribution made to their political action committee on Sept. 29. The Hesperia Citizens for Public Safety committee spent another $7,933 between Sept. 25 and Oct. 22, raising their total expenditure to $14,864. The committee spent $3,930 on political signs and $3,712 on campaign mailings.
Any major expenditure between now and Election Day on Nov. 8 will have to be declared to the Hesperia City Clerk's office within 24 hours.