In a landslide, Hesperia voters resoundingly rejected a proposed parcel tax at the polls Tuesday.
Measure F would have levied an $85 tax on each parcel of land in the city, with the revenue going to the Hesperia Fire District, the agency that pays for Hesperia's fire service from the San Bernardino County Fire Department. The district is largely funded by 15 cents of every dollar landowners pay in property taxes. That revenue has plummeted in recent years, dropping by 24 percent in three years.
Last year, the city kept funding for the fire district whole with funds from the city of Hesperia's general funds, something officials cannot afford to do again, as they seek to keep from making cuts in other city services.
The city estimates there are about 30,000 parcels of land that would have been subject to the tax, according to city spokeswoman Kelly Malloy.
Measure F would have generated about $2.55 million in revenue the first year, creating a surplus of $900,000. The extra money would have gone to replenish the fire district's reserves, which are supposed to be maintained at 9 percent of annual revenue, according to council policy.
As a special tax, the revenue could only have been spent on the purpose it was collected for — in this case, the Hesperia Fire District. Counter-intuitively, this more restricted form of tax is harder to approve than a general tax, and requires the approval of two-thirds of voters.
But Measure F didn't even come close: Eighty percent of voters rejected Measure F, 5,243 votes to 1,260. The registrar of voters is still reviewing provisional ballots and ballots requiring review as of Thursday morning, but those are unlikely to change the outcome of the election.
As a result of the parcel tax's defeat, Hesperia City Manager Mike Podegracz will negotiate with the fire department to reduce service by the equivalent of nine firefighters. Podegracz will meet with county fire officials to work out the details in mid-to-late November, according to Malloy, and is expected to update the city council at their Dec. 20 meeting.
Beau Yarbrough may be reached at (760) 956-7108 or at beau@HesperiaStar.com. Follow us on Facebook at Facebook.com/Hesperia.Star.