Murrieta City council unanimously voted July 17 to place the 1 Cent Transaction and Use Tax Ballot Measure, or Ballot Measure T, up for election on Nov. 6. If passed in the general election, the tax will go into effect no sooner than Apr. 1, 2019.
Measure T will add a one cent sales tax to all purchases within the city, excluding essentials such as groceries and medicine. This sales tax is estimated to raise $14 million in revenue annually to cover essential services within the city such as providing increased funding to fire department, police department and paramedic personal, prevent gang activity and drug related crimes, to maintain infrastructure and any other services the council deems to be in need of funding.
The tax is intended to cover Murrieta’s fiscal deficit as well. According to information from the City Clerk’s office, the city is projecting a deficit of $2,621,250 in 2017/2018 fiscal year and $3,669,574 in the 2018/2019 fiscal year, this including the fire district, library district and community services department. The fire district, library district and community services department are all subsidiaries of the city and are funded through property taxes. However, if they are to run a deficit, the city becomes responsible for their fiscal wellbeing and funds from the city’s general fund, which Measure T will flow into, must be draw to cover the losses.
According to the city, “Murrieta Fire is utilizing contingency funds at approximately $1.3 million per year, CSD is also utilizing approximately $900,000 in General Fund revenue to balance their budget, and the library district will be upside down in approximately three years and need additional revenue.”
According to the measure proposal, the city council will create a citizen oversight committee of 3-4 financially minded residents who would “review and biennially report
on the revenue and expenditure of the funds generated by the proposed tax measure.”
According to the measure’s proposal, “in the past seven years alone, the State has taken over $7 million from the City of Murrieta to balance its own budget.” However, the funds generated by Measure T can not be taken by the state and diverted to other uses.
According to a survey of Murrieta residents taken by Dr. Timothy McLarney, Principal, and True North Research Inc. in 2018, “62% of respondents indicated support of a proposed one-cent Transactions and Use tax increase to fund municipal projects and services.”