California City prepares for public safety tax vote

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In five days, residents of California City will get one last chance to vote on a tax that would fund its fire and police departments.

According to government officials, the nightmare scenario for California City is this: if residents don’t vote for a parcel tax of up to $182 a year, the city’s public safety infrastructure will all but collapse.

That could even lead to the disincorporation of Cal City.

A sign inside California City city hall says it all.

“Save Our City.”

Since the 70’s Cal City land owners have paid an $150 or so parcel tax on each property they own, in addition to standard property taxes.

But twice in the last year, voters have rejected a renewal of that tax.

City Manager Bob Stockwell explains if voters don’t approve a new parcel tax scheduled to be on the ballot this Tuesday, the city will basically begin to shut down. 

“Without the parcel tax, all of the parks would be closed, the swimming pool…would be closed, the golf course wouldn’t exist. Literally every optional type service would be cut probably entirely and then whatever remained would be used to fund as much as we could police and fire,” said Stockwell.

But Police Chief Eric Hurtado told us the threat of losing the tax has already knocked the department down to ten officers. 

And if Tuesday’s initiative known as Measure C fails?

“We may go down to chief of police and three officers, and that’s impossible,” said Hurtado. 

Cal City Fire would be hit hard as well. 

“It could drop to as low as two persons per shift which is unsafe, ineffective, impractical, reduced level of service for the people that depend on us,” said Cal City Fire Chief David Goodell.

“Then you start making tough decisions, like can this city exist as an incorporated city?” said Stockwell.

That’s the nightmare scenario, he said.

The city manager estimates 1200 ballots have already been cast, and all of the votes will be counted publicly at the California City city hall Tuesday.

The measure needs two thirds of the vote to pass.

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