The sales tax in the City of Los Banos will jump from 8.25 percent to 8.75 percent with the extra revenue funding a slew of city services.
A majority of Los Banos residents, 2,574 of them, voted in favor of Measure H, constituting 64.16 percent of votes cast on the ballot question, according to Tuesday night election results. About 1,438 people, or 35.84 percent, voted against the measure.
The measure’s tax increase is expected to raise the city’s general fund revenues by about $2.5 million each year for the next 15 years.
The funds can be used by the city “for any legitimate governmental purpose such as fire and police protection, traffic safety, street and sidewalk repair, park maintenance, and general administration of the city,” according to an impartial analysis of the measure by the city attorney.
The Los Banos City Council identified a list of spending priorities, with 45 percent of funds going toward maintaining police patrols and crime prevention, about 15 percent for firefighting resources, 15 percent toward maintaining parks and recreation facilities, 10 percent on 9-1-1 response and 5 percent each on cleaning up city blight, youth programs and curbing gang influence, and maintaining long-term financial stability.
“We definitely appreciate the community in supporting Measure H,” City Manager Alex Terrazas said. “I think the council’s adoption of spending priorities ... was important to the community.”
Opponents of the measure have said it was too vague and doesn’t bind the funds to their intended purpose, potentially allowing future city council administrations to stray from the measure’s intended use of funds.
Los Banos businesswoman Kathy Ballard, who was outspoken against the measure, said “it’s sad” to see a tax increase levied on the whole city by the decision of about 1,200 people.
“It’s done, and the few people have spoken,” Ballard said. “My only choice is to make sure (the funds) are used wisely.”
Ballard said she will be seeking a position on the city’s Measure H oversight committee, and that she hopes residents over the next 15 years keep tabs on the city government and how the Measure H funds are spent.
Terrazas said the city will be taking a strategic approach on how the funds will be used. It wasn’t immediately known when the citizens’ oversight committee will be formed.
Here is the latest on the other races affecting Los Banos and western Merced County as of the Merced County Elections Office’s latest update at 11:46 p.m. Tuesday.
Los Banos Mayor
- Mike Villalta: 69.56%, 2,680 votes
- Nilson Gomes Filho: 29.59%, 1,140 votes
Los Banos Councilmember, District 2
- Tom Faria: 61.76%, 525
- Refugio M. Llamas: 36.88%, 322
Los Banos Councilmember, District 3
- Brett Jones: 56.45%, 687
- John Cates: 43.30%, 527
LBUSD Board Member, Area 1
- Dennis Areias: 50.60%, 297
- Anahi Rodriguez: 49.23%, 289
LBUSD Board Member, Area 7
- Geneva Marie Brett: 53.29%, 267
- Raymond Martinez: 46.11%, 231
Dos Palos Councilmember (Vote for two)
- Thomas Lee Pigg: 32.93%, 433
- Deborah A. Orlando: 27.30%, 329
- Alice F. Thompson: 24.81%, 299
- Kuldip Mahal: 11.78%, 142
DPOLUSD Board Member (Vote for three)
- Jeremy O’Banion: 25.01%, 563
- Gordon Bonds: 23.94%, 539
- Armando Bravo: 17.99%, 405
- Moy Meraz: 17.68%, 398
- Olga Flores: 15.15%, 341
- Patrick Nagy: 65.32%, 469
- Zachery Ramos: 34.26%, 246
Gustine Councilmember (Vote for two)
- Rich Ford: 38.83%, 400
- Derek Alexander: 30.78%, 317
- Lynn Schultz: 30.29%, 312
GUSD Board Member
- Kevin Bloom: 51.96%, 106
- Wendy Montgomery: 48.04%, 98