Over the last decade, 9-1-1 calls in Visalia have risen dramatically, with police responding to 145,000 calls last year alone.
Firefighter equipment has aged and both police and fire staffing levels have stayed the same despite increased demands from a growing population. City streets and roads are deteriorating due to lack of funding for ongoing maintenance, while Sacramento continues to reduce funding and takes local tax dollars to balance their own budget.
In response to these needs, the City of Visalia is seeking a stable source of funding for essential city services such as police and fire, as well as maintenance of our parks and roads. Following over a year of community input, the Visalia City Council decided to put a local half-cent sales tax increase before voters. Essential services are the backbone of any community and the City of Visalia, and now, Measure N – The Visalia Essential City Services Measure, will be decided in the November 2016 election.
“We are very pleased to have had input from our residents regarding the future of our city,” said Visalia City Manager, Mike Olmos. “Through a combination of public hearings, online surveys and public comment at city council meetings, residents have expressed their desire to see a sales tax measure on this year’s ballot. Residents clearly want to see their city regain fiscal stability with a long-term solution to our finances.”
According to city documents, over the last five years, the State of California has taken over $40 million dollars of Visalia’s revenue. At the same time, Sacramento has scaled back funding for many state-mandated programs leaving the City of Visalia to fully fund these programs and services.
If approved by voters, Measure N would provide a local source of funding that is not controlled by Sacramento. Measure N would help fund essential city services that have been identified by local residents. According to an initial plan that has been adopted by the Council, priorities for Measure N funding are:
- Maintaining 911 emergency services, police patrols, and police and fire response times
- Maintaining gang prevention efforts
- Attracting businesses and jobs
- Addressing homelessness
- Maintaining local streets and infrastructure
- Funds generated by Measure N would be subject to a set of accountability measures, which include:
- Review of spending plans by a Citizens Oversight Board, and two public hearings before adoption of plans by the City Council
- Annual audits to ensure spending in conformance with approved plans, with audits submitted to the Oversight Board as well as the City Council
- Requirement that no Measure N funds be used for capital debt payments
More details about Measure N, including the full text of the Measure, will be printed in the sample ballot sent to all registered voters in the City of Visalia shortly before the November 8 election.
In addition to Measure N, several other issues such as State Propositions, legislative and City Council elections will also appear on Visalia’s November 8th ballot.
For information about Visalia’s Measure N, visit www.visalia.city/MeasureN