The city council is looking at options to increase revenues in its faltering general fund. The recent failure of Measure K, a countywide sales tax initiative, has made the issue more pressing.
The council is currently in budget talks for the 2016-2017 fiscal year and discussed several options for improving its general fund bottom line during last week’s meeting, Measure K would have added an estimated $345,000 per year to the local general fund, with that money earmarked for public safety (fire and police services). Under Measure K, the money would have had to augment current services and could not be used to replace current funding.
Measure K would have added a one-quarter percent sales tax throughout the county. It came extremely close to passing, with a two-third majority required. Both Hanford and Lemoore met the margin, but Corcoran and Avenal did not.
Hanford voters favored Measure K by 67.23 percent. Lemoore, with a lower overall voter turnout, approved Measure K by 71.79 percent. In Corcoran, 65 percent of voters approved the measure, while in Avenal just over 65 percent were on board. The unincorporated areas of Kings County, including Armona and Kettleman City, favored the bond by 60.68 percent.
Results of the failure have been swift. Chief of Police Reuben Shortnacy said the Corcoran Police Department will not be hiring two police officer positions that had been placed in the budget for next year. That brings staffing levels down to 2000 levels, he noted.
“We will have to make do with less,” he stated. “We will have to work harder.”
Since it came so close to success, county cities—including Corcoran—are revisiting the possibility of placing Measure K in front of the voters again on the November ballot. Time is short, however. Any ballot measure must be approved for the ballot no later than 85 days before the Nov. 8 election day.
The city may also discuss a local sales tax increase without the entire county participation; or could opt for a general sales tax increase, which would required just a 51 percent approval from the voters.