This is an archive of a past election.
See for current information.
LWV League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
Smart Voter
Los Angeles County, CA November 8, 2005 Election
Measure F
Special Tax for Public Safety
City of Sierra Madre

2/3 Majority Approval Required

Fail: 2,143 / 50.09% Yes votes ...... 2,135 / 49.91% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 28 4:37pm, 100.00% of Precincts Reporting (3/3)
Information shown below: Official Information | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

In order to fund Public Safety Services in the City of Sierra Madre, including Advanced Life Support (paramedic) emergency medical services, replacement of fire equipment, personnel to improve fire and emergency medical response, and to allow more competitive Police Department salaries, shall the City of Sierra Madre impose a special public safety tax beginning with Fiscal Year 2006-07?

Official Sources of Information
Impartial Analysis from City Attorney Michael G. Colantuono
Measure F is submitted by the Sierra Madre City Council to propose a public safety tax to fund police and fire services. 2/3 –voter approval is required for its approval.

Background: The City has the only remaining all-volunteer fire department in Los Angeles County. Lacking a substantial sales tax base, the City funds police and fire services via a voter-approved utility users tax and approximately 18 cents of each dollar of property tax paid in the City. The remaining property taxes – roughly 82% - go to schools, the county, and other government agencies. The State has reduced property taxes paid to cities to address the State’s fiscal problems, causing budget difficulties for the City. The City’s police officers are among the lowest paid in Los Angeles County, earning at least 15% less than all other San Gabriel Valley police departments. Although the fire department’s volunteers work without pay, the City pays other department expenses, such as purchasing and maintaining small equipment, supplies, dispatch services, and some training. The department does not have money for scheduled replacement of major equipment and has problems providing adequate staffing during weekday hours. Sierra Madre is the only area in Los Angeles County which does not receive advanced life support (ALS) emergency medical services by paramedic authorized to administer drugs and insert breathing tubes when needed.

The Measure. Measure F would authorize the City Council to charge up to $140 plus 6 cents per square foot of buildings annually per parcel. Each year, the Council would be required to adopt a public safety budget and to hold public hearings before setting a rate at or below this ceiling. The ceiling would increase annually by the smaller of 5% or the Consumer Price Index increase. Measure F proceeds would be placed in a special fund to be used only for police and fire services, including ALS paramedic emergency medical services; additional daytime firefighting and public safety support; replacement of major fire equipment under an approved capital expenditure plan; training for volunteer firefighters in fire prevention, suppression and emergency medical services; and salary and benefit enhancements to allow the City to compete for, and retain qualified police officers.

Measure F exempts government agencies, churches, schools, and other property owners who are exempt from property taxes and allows low-income residents of singlefamily houses to pay one-half the rate.

The tax can be increased only by a 2/3 vote of the people.

  Official Information

City of Sierra Madre
Suggest a link related to Measure F
Links to sources outside of Smart Voter are provided for information only and do not imply endorsement.

Arguments For Measure F Arguments Against Measure F
Paramedic service can save a life from a stroke, heart attack or head injury from a bicycle or skateboarding accident. Proudly, Sierra Madre is the only city in Los Angeles County served by a volunteer fire department. We are also the ONLY COMMUNITY IN LOS ANGELES COUNTY WITHOUT ESSENTIAL PARAMEDIC SERVICE. This measure will fund paramedic service for all residents, enhance our volunteer firefighter training, ensure daytime emergency response to keep us safe, and replace vehicles and equipment when they wear out. In addition, this measure will improve police department recruiting, training and retention of qualified officers preserving community policing by our own department.

Our City operates on a very modest $5 million unrestricted fund budget. Revenues come from $0.18 of each property tax dollar paid by property owners, the self-imposed utility tax and various user-related fees. Our retail sales tax base is small. The State has further impacted City revenues by withholding hundreds of thousands of dollars from us to balance its own budget as municipal expenses, especially health and workers compensation insurance premiums, have increased in spite of personnel cutbacks and below cost-of-living wage adjustments.

We are unable to fund paramedic service so our City can benefit from the standard of life safety found throughout Los Angeles County. We need a reliable source of funding completely protected from State interference and earmarked solely for public safety to give all of us around-the-clock paramedic service.

We all value the quality of life in our small, independent town. Measure F will fund only public safety and add life-saving paramedic service for the protection of our families and neighbors. This is the way for Sierra Madre to remain self-reliant and provide vital emergency services. We strongly recommend you support our volunteer firefighters and police officers and VOTE YES ON MEASURE F.
s/George Maurer, Mayor
s/Tonja Torres, Mayor Pro Tem
s/John Buchanan, Councilmember
s/Enid Joffe, Councilmember
s/Robert Stockly, Councilmember

This proposed tax is nothing more then an attempt to conceal financial malfeasance and incompetent leadership in Sierra Madre government. Sierra Madre finds itself in financial hardship; however, proper accountability for tax monies spent has never been discussed. Furthermore, using scare tactics to confuse the true nature of the issue and justify a new tax is reprehensible. This tax will do nothing to decrease response time.

The City Council has not done its due diligence in maintaining our City’s longterm financial viability nor has it seriously addressed the real issues facing the Fire & Police Departments; incompetent and/or non-existent leadership and lack of accountability are the real issues facing Sierra Madre’s public safety.

The Council has known for over three years that the residents of Sierra Madre have been at serious risk to loss of life and property. Rather than address the problems when presented, our government decided to make a political issue out of it in order to continue raiding Fire & Police Department funds to subsidize spending on development.

The City Council has refused to consider any alternative means of managing the City’s budget; most especially the elimination of the CRA District, expensive consultants and poor, if not illegal accounting practices used to raid restricted funds.

This proposed tax must be denied and the City Council must be held accountable for managing City funds. By approving this tax, the residents of Sierra Madre would enable this malfeasance and poor leadership to continue, by spending good money after bad, while continuing the downward spiral of public safety in our City.

The people of Sierra Madre deserve better leadership, public safety and financial accountability. Stop the deception. Stop the abuse. Vote NO!

s/Salvatore F. Tesoro, III

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
The argument opposing the Public Safety Measure F is merely a series of reckless allegations, which are not based on thoughtful study of our City budget or a basic understanding of municipal finance. Sierra Madre established its Redevelopment Agency (“CRA”) 30 years ago to infuse restricted, incremental property tax dollars in the downtown area. Only restricted CRA dollars have been invested in downtown improvements and the recent Downtown Specific Planning process. These funds cannot legally be used to provide basic municipal services, such as public safety and street improvements in our neighborhoods. Our City did not use one dime of the General Fund money, which does pay for these municipal services, in either of these projects to enhance our town center. To eliminate the CRA would mean substantially less property tax revenue flowing into the City, albeit for restricted uses such as senior housing and business district improvements.

The argument opposing Measure F does not even address OUR LACK OF PARAMEDIC SERVICE, which is considered basic in every other community in Los Angeles County. For about $20 per month per household, Measure F provides this fundamental life-saving service to all residents of Sierra Madre, ensures consistent daytime response by the Fire Department by staffing the department to respond to emergency calls when most of the volunteers are working out-of-town and provides for adequate equipment and enhanced training for our volunteers. As long-time and active members of the Sierra Madre community, we want our small town to remain self-reliant with our own volunteer fire department and independent police department, but we face increasingly difficult obstacles of limited resources to provide basic services at the level we have enjoyed in the past. We ask that you join us in supporting our dedicated volunteer firefighters on November 8th. VOTE YES ON MEASURE F.

s/Doug Hayes, Former Mayor
s/Roger Keith, Retired Chief – SMFD
s/Rev. Canon Michael Bamberger, Battalion Chief, SMFD
s/Salvatore M. Tesoro, Sierra Madre resident
s/William D. Messersmith, 34-year member of SMFD

Los Angeles Home Page || Statewide Links || About Smart Voter || Feedback
Created: January 28, 2006 14:42 PST
Smart Voter <>
Copyright © League of Women Voters of California Education Fund
The League of Women Voters neither supports nor opposes candidates for public office or political parties.