Public safety appears to be under siege lately, with budget cutbacks and changes in criminal accountability forming a perfect storm to make the job even more difficult. Law enforcement and fire officials across Kings County hope Measure K will help them provide the basic safety measures residents should be able to expect.
The initiative calls for an additional quarter-cent sales tax which will be used for public safety.
The measure first appeared on the primary ballot in June, failing by less than 100 votes countywide. This time around, proponents have promised to aggressively support the additional sales tax proposal. To that end Chief of Police Reuben Shortnacy has noted that the local Police Officers Association (POA) has pledged monetary donations to promote the measure. A group representing both the city police department and the public works department also walked neighborhoods Saturday to inform local residents of the importance of Measure K.
The initiative will maintain the Kings County sales tax at 7.5 percent, with 100 percent of the increase remaining in the county. The sales tax in the county currently stands at 7.5 percent, but a quarter-cent sales tax imposed by the state is slated to expire as of Dec. 31, 2016. The initiative would mean the tax would remain in place, going into effect in April of next year.
The measure requires two-thirds’ voter approval.
All four cities have signed on to re-ignite the initiative, with city councils from Corcoran, Hanford, Lemoore and Avenal approving participation. Kings County will benefit from the measure, as will the Kings County Sheriff’s Department.
Countywide, the measure is expected to raise about $4 million annually. That will be divided, approximately, as follows:
–Kings County fire and the sheriff’s department, $1.25 million;
–City of Hanford police and fire, $1.5 million;
–City of Corcoran police department, $335,000;
–Lemoore police and fire, $675,000; and
–City of Avenal police department, $240,000.
The money can only be used for public safety. The Corcoran Police Department will use the funding for staffing, training, facilities and equipment.
Currently the quarter-cent sales tax costs each county resident about $26 a year. That figure is expected to hold, based on a county population of 150,000. The amount is reduced by spending of non-residents traveling through the area. The tax equates to about a quarter (25 cents) for every $100 spent and all persons who spend in Kings County will pay the tax. This includes those spending at the new Costco complex in Hanford and drivers along the I-5 corridor who stop and spend in Kettleman City.
Corcoran failed to gain the 66 percent margin required in the June election, but not by much. The voters in the city approved Measure K by 65 percent; another 20 local votes would have pushed the ballot measure over the top. The same was true in Avenal, while both Hanford and Lemoore met the two-thirds majority. Residents of the county rural area voted in favor of Measure K by 61 percent.
This time around, the local city council vowed to aggressively support the measure, working to attain the required percentage of votes to make it pass.
The countywide committee coordinating the Measure K drive meets In Lemoore and is known as the Kings County Citizens for Safe Neighborhoods. Local residents who would like to donate to the campaign effort can contact Chief of Police Reuben Shortnacy in Corcoran or can mail donations to KCCSN, P.O. Box 164, Hanford, CA 93232.