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Grand Terrace voters can add full-time police officer, but at what cost?

Grand Terrace city leaders on Tuesday, May 22, could decide whether to put a parcel, sales or utility users’ tax measure on the November ballot to fund an additional 40-hour police officer at $330,000 per year.
The city of about 13,000 – one of 14 that contracts with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department for police services – currently is patrolled by a 24/7 police unit and a 40-hour cover unit, well below pre-2010 staffing levels, Lt. Doug Wolfe told city leaders this month.
Adding a second 40-hour unit, Wolfe noted, would provide daily relief when activity is at its highest and increase the level of service to residents.
While all three tax measures should cover the cost of enhancing local law enforcement, their respective thresholds for passage vary. Moreover, the potential passage of a statewide measure requiring all taxes be passed by a two-thirds vote further complicates the matter.
A special parcel tax would require two-thirds of the vote, regardless.
If a parcel tax is approved, Grand Terrace would collect $80 per single-family dwelling, $45.60 per unit within a multi-family complex and $100 on all nonresidential parcels starting in tax year 2019-20. The annual tax could be increased by up to 6 percent through 2023-24.
A citizens oversight board would be formed to ensure the resulting $356,000 goes specifically toward law enforcement services beyond the current 208 weekly deputy hours.
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Sales and utility users’ taxes, by comparison, currently need only a simple majority to pass. Should either measure pass in Grand Terrace below a two-thirds threshold, it would be voided if California voters OK the statewide measure.
City staffers have proposed enacting a local sales tax of 0.5 percent for all purchases. Should such a measure land on the ballot, city leaders could include an advisory vote asking whether the city should use the anticipated $365,000 solely to fund additional law enforcement services.
Grand Terrace’s sales tax would be a near-county-high 8.25 percent if the measure passes.
Lastly, a 1.5 percent bump to the utility users’ tax would collect more than $345,000 for general uses. That measure too would be accompanied by an advisory vote.
The City Council meets at 6 p.m. Tuesday, May 22, at the Civic Center, 22797 Barton Road.

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