Lake Elsinore city council approves sending transaction and use tax to voters in November

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The Lake Elsinore City Council approved a resolution with a 4-0 vote, with councilmember Steve Manos absent, to place a transaction and use tax proposal before voters in the November election Tuesday, July 28.

City Manager Grant Yates, who brought the resolution to the council, emphasized the need for Lake Elsinore residents to have control to allow for “accountability and transparency.” Yates said that financial stability of residents is the priority of the city council and this resolution comes with the intent of moving forward as a community.

“We are the 12th fastest growing city in the nation, but we still have a long way to go,” Yates said.

Yates referred to the 2040 Dream Extreme plan discussed earlier in the meeting to emphasize the need to meet increasing costs and rising demands by residents.

Currently, Lake Elsinore has two main sources of income. The first is sales tax, which is set at 7.75%, and the city gets 1%. The second is property tax, which ranges from 4.5-11% depending on the region of the city. The balance of property tax goes to the state, county and school districts. Yates explained that this position puts the city at a serious disadvantage, because the city does not receive all the tax funds.

State and county shifts include: the state shifting revenues and divesting of services; the pushdown of state services, such as housing demands and prisoner releases, and the economy as a subject to global and national politics, such as the ongoing pandemic.

Matt Liesemeyer, mayor pro tem of Menifee, spoke during the public comment time.

“I want to offer my congrats and support to each of you doing what most of you would say as doing the right thing,” Liesemeyer said. “Based on collective leadership, have faith that your proposal will be transparent.”

Temecula, Murrieta, Wildomar, Menifee and Hemet have adopted the transaction and use tax and will send the resolution to voters in November.

If it is approved by Lake Elsinore voters, the city will form a citizen oversight committee that consists of five members to independently oversee the spending and use of funds generated by the transactions and use tax twice a year. In addition, the city will take community surveys every two years to gather feedback to ensure transparency and accountability for the community.

If passed in November, the transaction and use tax would generate $10 million per year to be spent on local needs controlled by the oversight committee.

Samantha Cox can be reached by email at valleystaff@reedermedia.com.