The city of Glendale provides unmatched services to its residents and businesses — from public safety to recreation and parks, libraries, arts and culture, and quality-of-life programs — to help our community thrive. But by no means are we perfect or without challenges. Honestly, I can’t think of a city that isn’t dealing with many of the same issues as we are.
One of our challenges is ensuring that revenue generated in Glendale stays local and is used to provide services for the benefit of Glendale residents and businesses. To confront this challenge and ensure that $30 million in new revenue will only be used locally, the Glendale City Council unanimously placed the Glendale Quality of Life and Essential Services Protection Measure on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Our neighbors to the east and west have arrived at the same conclusion. Pasadena and Burbank placed almost identical measures on their local ballots for this November, and voters in other cities have also recently approved similar ballot measures that changed the local sales tax.
Many cities in our region generate and send millions of dollars in special sales taxes to Los Angeles County, regional agencies and special districts but don’t see a commensurate amount in return. This fiscal year, Glendale is expected to send $90 million to the county in special sales taxes, but only receive $15 million to use locally.
For example, Glendale is projected to generate $10 million because of Measure H, which is a 0.25% sales tax increase approved by county voters in 2017 to support homeless services. How much of that do we get in return to help those in need here in Glendale? Only $280,000. By increasing our sales tax to the county cap of 10.25% (from 9.5%) today, the funds generated would stay local and not be diverted by similar county and regional tax measures.
I am not saying the sky is falling. Historically, Glendale is a fiscally conservative city with a balanced budget and strong reserves. However, this measure will ensure an estimated $30 million of new funding generated will be used in Glendale for Glendale programs and services. With this amount of additional revenue to the General Fund, the City Council will be well positioned to protect funding for investment in deferred infrastructure, affordable housing, public safety and other essential services.
With all of the cost-saving measures our City Council has taken over the past five years, including the elimination of 337 full-time positions, reducing spending without significantly impacting service levels is no longer a realistic option.
It is important to understand that if voters approve this local sales tax, our city will have full control over its generated revenues. If it is not adopted, it's likely future sales taxes adopted by the county, regional agencies and special districts would be assessed on Glendale, and Glendale will only receive a small portion of that to improve our local neighborhoods.
We strive to educate the public and encourage civic involvement, helping the community make informed decisions on how to best utilize their tax dollars and protect funding for infrastructure (streets, sidewalks, etc.), affordable housing, public safety and other essential services.
We look forward to discussing this measure with you in the coming weeks. Please visit ProtectMyGlendale.com to learn more about the Glendale Quality of Life and Essential Services Protection Measure and to stay informed and engaged in this process.