Cities’ sales tax measures pass |

Cities’ sales tax measures pass

While two municipal sales tax measures in western Nevada County fared well on election night, a parcel tax increase to fund south county schools was ultimately defeated.

Both Grass Valley’s Measure N and Nevada City’s Measure L passed by large margins, 66 percent and 75 percent respectively, according to preliminary figures tallied by the Nevada County Elections office Tuesday night.

“I am pleasantly surprised with the results. In this economic climate, for a tax initiative to pass, it goes to show people are concerned about public safety in Grass Valley and support the police and fire and the need to improve our roads,” said Alex Gammelgard, a member of the Committee For Yes on Measure N and president of the police officers’s association.

Grass Valley’s Measure N, a half-percent sales tax initiative, stands to raise the sales tax rate to 7.875 percent — Nevada City’s previous amount.

However, with the passage of Measure L, Nevada City’s sales tax will increase three-eighths of a percent.

“I am pleased that the voters support the work the city has done to be financially responsible,” said Nevada City Councilman Robert Bergman. “I think they see the genuine need. The city isn’t making it up. It’s not creating a tax to generate more revenue to do extra things. Over the last few years, there have been so many cuts.”

Since the economic downturn, Nevada City has lost $487,000 from 2008-09 levels, according to city documents. Grass Valley’s estimated nearly $10.1 million general fund is $1.5 million lower from its fiscal year 2007-08 peak at nearly $11.56 million.

While both measures will be allocated to the cities’ general funds and, therefore, qualified
as only a general tax that required a simply voter majority, both measures passed with a
large enough margin to have passed the more stringent standards of a two-thirds majority special tax.

Pleasant Ridge School District’s Measure K, which would have raised the per-parcel tax by $92 to all land parcels within the boundaries of Pleasant Ridge School District for five years, did not fare nearly as well.

As many as 63 percent of south county voters living in the district’s boundaries voted against Measure K.

“I don’t think we are surprised, but we had to try,” said Britta Skavdahl, superintendent of Pleasant Ridge schools,
which has $800,000 in deficit spending in the current fiscal year’s budget.

“We owed it to our children and constituents to go to the electorate and see if they would support (the measure),” Skavdahl said. “We respect the voters, and we will look for solutions. We will survive.”

While the district was spared a double blow with the likely passage of statewide Proposition 30, the district will look for solutions to close the projected budget gap that could include both cuts to programs and layoffs.

“I hope we don’t have to have do layoffs,” Skavdahl said, noting that if enough retirees take advantage of enhanced incentives, the district can retain its teaching staff.

Measure K would have put $920,000 per year into school enrichment programs — programs such as music, visual and performing arts, libraries and librarian services, technology, woodshop, gifted and talented education and sports.

Both newly elected school board candidates — incumbent appointee Scott Hopper and challenger Mary Newberry — supported Measure K.

To contact Staff Writer Christopher Rosacker, email or call (530) 477-4236.

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