City Council Green Lights Public Opinion Polling Contract Services

CATHEDRAL CITY — The City Council on Wednesday unanimously approved a $42,500 budget amendment to provide public opinion polling services of residents on whether the city should pay for parks and recreation services through the Desert Recreation District.

The item was part of the consent agenda. There was no discussion. Councilmember Raymond Gregory was absent.

Pollsters will be checking to see if there is any appetite for a half-cent sales tax.

This is not the City Council’s first attempt at trying to raise money for parks and recreation.

At their meeting on Aug. 2022, the City Council voted to place a local funding measure (Measure K) for parks and recreation on the November 2022 ballot. Had it been approved by voters, this measure would have cost property owners 15 cents per building square foot annually on single-family residential units to allow DRD to:

  • Maintain and improve neighborhood park safety.
  • Maintain safe drinking water and improve water conservation.
  • Enhance youth drug and gang prevention programs.
  • Provide affordable after-school and senior programs.
  • Address homelessness in local parks.
  • Make a wide array of recreational programs available in Cathedral City.
  • Provide funding to develop a community recreation center.

Because it was a single purpose tax measure, provisions in California state law imposed a super majority requirement on Measure K, meaning a two-thirds majority was needed for adoption. The measure received majority support from Cathedral City voters but did not reach the required two-thirds level for adoption:

Some 6,980 residents, or 55% voted “Yes.” Some 5,808, or 5 % voted “No.”

As a result of the strong community support for providing parks and recreation services and programs in Cathedral City, the City Council adopted the following action item as part of its five-year strategic plan adopted in April of 2023:

  • Action B-13 Develop a plan to address the need for funding for parks and recreation services through the DRD; and other resident priorities including streets, and work toward a potential funding measure in 2024. The City Manager appointed a committee of residents to review unfunded needs in the community, explore possible solutions and potentially make recommendations to the City Council.

The committee first met and began its work on Oct. 26, 2023. They met a total of four times through their final meeting on Jan. 11. At that final meeting, the committee discussed ideas from committee members for addressing the identified funding gaps. Discussion included the applicability and limitations of grant funding, public-private partnerships and single-purpose tax measures. Ultimately, the committee members coalesced around recommending a general purpose, half-cent sales tax (transaction and use tax) to the City Council, according to City Manager Charles McClendon. It was noted that a half-cent tax would raise about the same amount as the original Measure K would have raised – approximately $5 million per year.

Image Sources

  • 2022-Cathedral-City-Soccer-800×568-1: Cathedral City file photo