Facts about Measure SM

Renewal of the San Marino Special Public Safety Parcel Tax

Measure SM, the extension of the City’s existing Special Public Safety Parcel Tax, will be considered by San Marino voters on November 5, 2019. The following factual information is intended to ensure that all voters understand Measure SM and its importance to the City.

What is the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax?

The City of San Marino Special Public Safety Parcel Tax was first approved by voters in November 1983 and continues to be a dedicated funding source exclusively for public safety in the City to present. Since 1983, San Marino voters have renewed the Public Safety Parcel Tax every time it’s been up for extension. The California Supreme Court unanimously approved the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax against a legal challenge in 1986.  As permitted by the California Constitution, with the approval of the voters, it is a special tax on parcels of real property, and the City is legally required to use the resulting revenue only for paramedic services, police protection, fire protection, and prevention.

Measure SM would continue the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax at the previously approved and existing rate structure.  Measure SM also continues to limit any possible increase to the tax rate to no more than 5% per year, only if the City Council decides to approve an increase.  Last year and this year, the Council made the decision not to raise the rate of the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax.

If Measure SM is approved by the voters, the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax would be extended and would continue through June 30, 2025. This 5-year term is due to the state’s mandate that the City of San Marino realign local elections to occur in even-numbered years starting in 2020.

How much revenue is generated and where does it go?

Measure SM will generate approximately $3.4 million annually for paramedic services, fire protection and prevention, and police protection in San Marino. This is 28.4% of the combined Police and Fire budgets for Fiscal Year 2019-2020.

Revenue from the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax is specifically dedicated to pay for paramedic services, fire protection and prevention, and police protection in San Marino. The revenue is deposited into the Public Safety Fund, and the Police and Fire budgets are charged to the Public Safety Fund.

 The revenue cannot be used for anything else. 100% of the revenue is used in San Marino – these funds cannot be taken away by Sacramento.

What could happen to city services without the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax?

The Police Department will receive approximately $1.8 million from the existing Special Public Safety Parcel Tax in Fiscal Year 2019-2020. A loss of this revenue would be equivalent to the cost of 16 of the department’s 17 budgeted police officer positions.

The Fire Department will receive approximately $1.6 million from the existing Special Public Safety Parcel Tax in Fiscal Year 2019-2020 (for both fire protection and paramedic services). A loss of this revenue would be equivalent to the cost of 11 of the department’s 12 budgeted firefighter/paramedic positions.
 Without the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax revenue, the City Council would face the choice between funding the City’s public safety needs at current levels versus maintaining funding for other City Services or continuing capital improvements, maintenance, and infrastructure repairs.

How much does it cost me?

Measure SM’s rate structure is calculated in exactly the same way the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax rate has been structured in the past, and previously approved by the voters. The rate is calculated based on your parcel size and the property’s location in one of the assigned special public safety tax zones. The maximum amount per residential parcel in Fiscal Year 2020-2021 ranges from $514 to $1,394.

 Please note: Measure SM would not be an additional amount added to what you already pay. Instead it continues the above formula calculation through June of 2025. 

What percentage of the voters approved the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax measures in recent elections?

In every election since its inception, the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax has been extended. In both 2011 and 2015, the Special Public Safety Parcel Tax passed with over 73% of the vote. Passage of any special tax requires approval by 2/3 of the voters. 

Please click here for a downloadable version of this fact sheet, as well as a vote history of the parcel tax since 1983.

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