The Menifee City Council tabled indefinitely a proposal for the Menifee 911 Emergency Public Safety/No Tax increase continuation measure by a narrow 3-2 vote at its July 15 city council meeting.
The resolution, which was proposed by a city council member at an earlier meeting, was intended to clarify another measure to repeal Measure DD, the one-cent general sales tax that will be listed on the Nov. 3 general election ballot. The name of the city council member was not mentioned in the latest council meeting, but the final vote to table the motion was opposed by council members Lisa Sobek from District 3 and Greg August from District 1.
The added tax measure affirmation placed on the November ballot would have cost the city $40,000.
If approved the proposed measure would have read, “MENIFEE 911 EMERGENCY PUBLIC SAFETY/NO TAX INCREASE CONTINUATION MEASURE. Shall an ordinance to continue the existing voter-approved locally controlled one-cent sales tax providing $11,000,000 annually to maintain 911 emergency medical and disaster/preparedness response, paramedic/firefighting equipment, neighborhood police patrols, street/road repairs and other general services until ended by voters, with funding that cannot be taken by the state, all funds for the city of Menifee, and with no increase in taxes, be adopted?” A “Yes” or “No” vote would be left to voters.
Had the measure passed by 50% or more of the voters, it would have nullified the Measure DD Repeal Initiative, and any other ballot measure relating to Chapter 3.26 of the Menifee Municipal Code one-cent sales tax shall remain in full force and effect.
Before the vote to table the Measure DD affirmation measure, the council heard more than a dozen emails sent to the council on the matter; 11 of those were firmly in support of the current one-cent sales tax, which is used only for the city’s ongoing public safety programs, including the new police department.
Two other emails questioned the measure, saying it could sway the vote toward maintaining Measure DD instead of giving the voters a chance to decide for themselves on the initiative as proposed. The two comments argued the affirmative measure should not be on the ballot.
District 2 council member Matthew Liesemeyer and District 4 council member Dean Deines immediately said they would vote “No” on placing the affirmative Measure DD on the ballot, believing the voters would make the right decision on the initiative and believing they would understand the consequences if it was repealed.
“I am not in favor of putting this on the ballot,” Liesemeyer said.
“I agree,” Deines said.
Mayor Bill Zimmerman agreed the voters would know to make the right decision, considering the possible loss of revenue would be devastating to the new police department, many street and highway improvements and other public safety programs in the city. He said he did not see that the city council itself had the right to try to sway the voters in their final decision. He said too after hearing the large-scale public support for Measure DD and what it has brought to the city since being approved by the voters, he was sure the voters understood the financial problems its repeal would bring. He made the motion to table the resolution indefinitely, casting the final “No” vote.
“Let’s save the residents $40,000.” he said.
In other action, the council moved to approve a $45,000 memorandum of understanding agreement with the Menifee Valley Chamber of Commerce to help the Community Services Department to improve local business opportunities. The MOU was brought into some question about how it would be helping the city in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic that was negatively affecting almost all the city businesses and industry. The council agreed the MOU would be granted but, with a scheduled review of the chamber’s efforts after 90-days.
The council approved a partnership with Riverside County’s Permanent Local Housing Allocation funding which would afford the city more than $250,000 per year to help low income residents with up to $15,000 in home loans to be either paid back before 15 years or waived if they remain in the same home longer than that. It is a five-year program.
The council continued a reconsideration of a conditional use permit for proposed AT&T cell tower in Wheatfield Park until its Aug. 5 meeting. Two other public hearings on Community Facilities Districts 2020-1 and 2020-2 special tax levies were continued.
A lengthy discussion followed, as the city council mulled over a number of amendments to the new city code of conduct policy which was introduced in earlier meetings. The final changes were approved. The new code of conduct will be available to the public once completed by the city staff.
Tony Ault can be reached by email at email@example.com.