Measure K Returns to Kings County Ballot

The June, 2016 ballot initiative was close – it was really close. But, the implementation of Measure K, a ¼-cent sales tax countywide that would be used for public safety issue fell short, barely. By less than 1% of the two-third majority vote, the measure didn’t make it. In other words, Kings County voted 66.29% of the 66.67% needed – about 70 votes shy of passing.

Measure K appears on the November ballot, again, because it was oh, so close.

In theory the measure would not increase sales tax. With the expiration of Proposition 30 statewide sales taxation of ¼ cent at the end of this year, a new ¼ sales tax within the county should not be felt. Taxes would remain the same, with all Measure K funds going toward public safety.

Prop 30, which passed statewide in 2012, included the ¼-cent sales tax providing temporary revenues for schools, and guaranteeing all funding for public safety services realigned from state to local governments. Other sources for funding through Prop. 30, including an increase in personal income tax for individuals earning higher than $250,000 per year, remain in place for another three years. With this in mind, Measure K would not really “increase” the current sales tax, but rather keep it the same. Currently, Kings County’s sales tax rate is 7.5%. It is slated to lower to 7.25% on January 1. If Measure K passes, it will return to 7.5%.

Measure K would be a “special tax.” It would not be placed into any general fund, but could only be deposited into a designated, “special fund,” tagged for public safety.

Within the county, outside of the cities, funding would be split 50/50 between the Sheriff’s department and the Fire department, said Dave Robinson, Kings County Sheriff. Within the
Sheriff’s Department that would allow the hiring of six additional officers, three for patrol and three for the jail, he said. On the Fire Department side, it would also allow for the hiring of additional firefighters.

“So, for the county it will go straight to [an increase in] public safety staffing,” he said.

Once those goals are met, additional funds raised through the measure could go toward rehabilitating or building Sheriff or Fire Department facilities, for replacement of equipment, as well as other potential public safety programs, as allocated through the Board of Supervisors. As for the cities of Hanford, Lemoore, Avenal and Corcoran, each would develop its own annual plan, allocating funds in similar ways to the county.

Robinson said he feels this is of the utmost importance for the County’s Sheriff Department, and as such, he is going door-to-door around the County including Stratford, Kettleman City and Armona to discuss Measure K with voters. Other Sheriff Department personnel are doing the same, on their off-time, discussing the issue while urging everyone to get out and vote.

“We have great public services in this county,” Robinson said. “And, with the criticism that law enforcement is facing around the country, we have to continue to have funds for equipment, for training, and for facilities. With a little community support, we can make it even stronger.”

The November Measure K initiative is exactly the same as the June Measure K ballot measure was – there has only been a slight change to the language, in order to make it even clearer that all funds raised through the measure will explicitly go toward public safety within the county.

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