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ARTESIA VOTERS SOUNDLY REJECT UTILITY USER TAX

 

By Rico Dizon

Despite the supporter’s message of an “urgent need to raise additional city revenues to improve general city services and enhance the quality of life for the city,” Artesia voters soundly rejected Measure Y, the proposed 4.9% utility user tax.

Nearly 63% or 1,038 voted no on the UUT while 37.28% or 617 residents in the city were willing to pay the 4.9% increase in their total utility bills which would have gone to the city’s general fund.

What is alarming was less than 5% or only 1,655 out of the total registered voters in Artesia went out to the polls. It is not known whether there were actually more who voted on the other contests and intentionally declined to vote on the UUT issue in their ballots.

The question on the ballot for Measure Y was: “Shall the Artesia Public Safety, Parks and General Services Ordinance be adopted to enact a general purpose utility user tax at a rate of 4.9 percent for charges made for certain utility services, to provide funding for general fund purpose without limitations to 911 response, crime/gang prevention and neighborhood police patrol, community center improvements for teen-after-school recreations and senior programs, neighborhood streets, alleys, potholes sidewalks, and roads and other city general services? Yes or No.”

Official proponents of Measure Y included Artesia Mayor Tony Lima, Councilman Ali Taj, Public Safety Commissioner Betty Lou Ormonde, Parks and Recreation Commissioner Rene Trivino and Artesia Chamber Director Dinesh Gandhi.

During a quick post-elections phone interview, Artesia Mayor Lima said, “Of course I am sad of the outcome, what is important is it was the people’s choice. Although there were many supporters of the measure, there were many more who were against it.” He added, “I think the voters did not see the long-range positive results of the measure that will benefit both the residents and business owners alike-even those who live outside Artesia.”

“For now, everything will be the same. We cannot get another patrol car for better public safety, we cannot improve the 50-year old community center, and we are still in the state of fiscal emergency with our city budget slashed by about 30%. Our current alternatives to raise city revenues would be the implementation of the downtown improvement project and the train proposal that will pass through the city.”

When contacted by LCCN, Councilman Ali Taj who vigorously campaigned to raise funds for the city’s general services could only say, “The residents have spoken. You loose some, you win some.”

The defeat of the Nov.4, 4014 UUT proposal was a repeat of the 1996 and 1999 elections when Artesia residents turned down utility user tax proposed ordinances.

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