The Wildomar City Council Wednesday, Nov. 8, approved an agreement with a company to put together polling for Wildomar residents with questions about the kinds of things they might like to see enacted or fixed within the city.
The council voted unanimously to approve a $37,750 Professional Services Agreement for Community Interest Polling Services with the Oakland-based Lew Edwards Group.
The council also approved the creation of an ad hoc Subcommittee consisting of councilwoman Marsha Swanson and Mayor Pro Tem Ben Benoit to oversee the polling process and play a role in some the questions that are asked.
One item Nordquist mentioned was the recent passage of Proposition 64, which legalized marijuana at the state level, but left it to communities to decide how to regulate the drug.
He also talked about infrastructure deficits that he said came from a loss of funding from the state of California over a six year period. He said roads were in need of work, which hadn’t been done recently due to the lack of funds.
“We’re looking at what we can do to get ourselves back up to an adequate service level for the city,” Nordquist said. “And could we be looking at some other kind of revenue source that could help us get back to those levels for this community?”
He said the survey would attempt to gauge whether residents had an “appetite” for such things as a sales tax increase or hotel tax that could garner additional funds for the city.
One Wildomar resident, Ken Mayes, raised concerns that the survey was only a thinly-veiled effort to raise taxes on the public.
“This is nothing more than attempt by this city, some of y’all who pledged no new taxes during your run for office to solicit for more Mello-Roos fees from an already weary citizenry,” Mayes said.
Councilmember Swanson was the first councilmember during the meeting to say she felt the survey was needed.
“This is so important to do,” Swanson said. “We have a handful of people who come out every month here. We know how they feel, we know what they want and what they don’t want, but that’s only a few people. We’re a town of 35,000, close to.”
Swanson stressed that she’s not in favor of raising taxes, but she wondered whether residents of the city held a different opinion on the issue of taxation.
“It’s not my choice,” she said. “It is the people that live here, their choice. And I think finding out what they feel about cannabis, what they feel about higher taxes and hearing what they really feel. Not just from Kenny. I like that he comes and tells us what he feels, but I want to hear from everybody.”
Mayor Tim Walker said he was fine with the survey, but had concerns about questions pertaining to marijuana.
“It’s still a federal law, and I don’t think that it’s our right to overstep our boundaries as city council members to approve something that would move that way,” Walker said.
Walker at first said that he would like it if there were no questions pertaining to the drug. Later he said the questions should be prefaced with the fact that using and selling marijuana still violates federal law.
Mayor Pro Tem Ben Benoit argued that federal law is set up with limitations that allow for states to have their own rights. He said if cannabis is produced and sold exclusively within the state of California and not across state lines, that is not a violation of federal law.
“I would respectfully ask that you not say we’re violating our oath when we sit up here and look at this ordinance that has been passed by the state of California and the California voters,” Benoit said.
The discussion about the survey was not the first time marijuana was brought up. The council voted earlier in the evening to extend a moratorium on marijuana cultivation and commercial sales within the city.
The one year extension, the last the city is allowed by state law, will last through December 2018 and is intended to give the city council time to research a permanent ordinance.