Measure L, a half-cent sales tax increase that would go into Lodi’s general fund, was well in its way to passing on Tuesday night
With all precincts reporting, Measure L had received 6,103 yes votes, or 56.9 percent.
Michael Carouba, a Lodi-based real estate agent and Measure L supporter, expressed his gratitude for the volunteers who worked on the campaign during an election results viewing party at local business owner Dave Kirsten’s office in Downtown Lodi on Tuesday night.
“It’s great to see that our fellow citizens agree with us,” Kirsten said. “It’s rewarding.”
Lodi’s sales tax will increase from 7.75 cents per dollar to 8.25 cents per dollar when the measure takes effect, and is expected to generate an extra $5.4 million per year for the city’s general fund of approximately $50 million to pay for services such as police, fire, parks and the Lodi Public Library.
Had Measure L not passed, city officials projected expenditures would have begun to exceed revenues by fiscal year 2019-20, and by fiscal year 2023-24 the city could have faced a deficit of $6 million, which would have likely forced the city to either significantly reduce services or go bankrupt.
The measure was supported by city employee unions as well as the local business community, and was opposed by local taxpayer advocates who argued that the measure was merely a temporary solution to a problem that they believe was caused by spiraling pension costs.
Lodi Fire Chief Gene Stoddart was excited that his department will be able to fully staff Engine 1, he said at the party, which was unstaffed, or “browned out,” for approximately 75 percent of 2017.
“This means not only increased safety for the public, but increased safety for our firefighters as well,” Stoddart said.
Lodi Police Chief Tod Patterson was equally excited to hear that Measure L passed.
“I’m glad that the citizens realized that we need some help, and that they recognized all the good that this is going to do in the community,” Patterson said at the party.
Although he did not share Carouba’s, Stoddart’s and Patterson’s excitement, Lodi taxpayer advocate and Measure L opponent Alex Aliferis said he felt the campaign informed more voters about problems caused by spiraling pension costs.
“By putting the information out there, we are telling the truth to the voters,” Aliferis said. “The next time the city goes for another tax increase, I think they’re going to have a hard time passing it.”