Palm Springs City Manager Explains the Need for Sales Tax Increase

Palm Springs voters will be asked on Nov. 7 to decide on Measure D: Essential Services and Public Safety Measure.

Measure D would authorize a one-half cent increase in sales tax for essential city services. It will generate about $6 million to $7 million annually, according to city estimates.

Measure D reportedly replaces an expired state sales tax with local revenue, 100 percent of which will remain in Palm Springs.

Uken Report posed a series of questions to City Manager David H. Ready. Following are the questions and Ready’s responses in their entirety.

1. If Measure D is approved, when would the ½-cent sales tax begin to be collected?

The State Board of Equalization has a process for collecting, likely by April of 2018.

2. Will this tax expire, or will it last in perpetuity?

If passed the tax does not have a sunset provision

3. The city-sponsored brochure says it will help improve police and fire/paramedics 911 times. What is the average response time for each service now? What is an ideal response time for each?

Fire/paramedics have a goal of 6 minutes – that number fluctuates based on if they are on other calls for service, the additional paramedic crew will help mitigate multiple call response times. Police response times depend on priority/type of calls. Additional personnel to respond can move calls up on the priority list.

4. How will the city improve response times with more tax revenue? More men and women? More vehicles? If more personnel, how many and at what salary?

In addition to response above, the police and fire cost for the additional personnel positions proposed is approximately $1.7 million

5. The city claims approving the tax will keep all five fire stations open. If it fails, will a station close? Has the city identified that station?

Station 5 was closed in response to the City’s fiscal crisis after the recession – it was reopened in last year’s budget – there are no plans to close the station. The additional tax revenue will help ensure all remain open with an expanded paramedic crew at the downtown station where a large volume of service calls originate.

6. Gangs have never been kept out of Palm Springs? How is throwing more money at the problem going to help?

The City’s participation of extra officers in regional gang task forces plays a significant part in reducing gang activity. Additional revenue ensures participation in those multi-agency task forces.

7. How specifically is this tax going to address homelessness? The copy in the brochure sounds good but what is going to be different? The city does not seem to have done a great job of addressing homelessness to date.

As you are aware, social services is a county function – however, the city has put approximately $1.3 million toward homelessness services including two additional police officers and hiring county social service workers to engage homeless individuals to provide assistance and services. This level of extra expenditure would be hard to maintain if the City was in a budget reduction situation.

8. The city says this tax will help increase neighborhood police patrols and paramedic services. How? By adding men and women? If so, how many and at what salary?

Yes, see question 4 answer above.

9. What kind of public oversight specifically will be provided to ensure these funds are spent as advertised?

All city expenditures are audited by intendent auditing CPA firms, and presented at City Council Meeting.