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Guest Opinion: Measure M will make Citrus Heights stronger, safer

By Steve Miller–
This November 3rd Citrus Heights voters will be asked to make one of the most important decisions since we voted to become a city. On the ballot is Measure M, a 1-cent sales tax intended to address your community priorities and enhance our core city services.

Thousands of our residents have said their current top priorities include quicker emergency response, disaster preparedness, reducing and preventing homelessness, pothole repair and street maintenance, supporting our local businesses and meaningful job creation.

If enacted, Measure M will provide funding for priorities to keep Citrus Heights safe and secure. All Measure M funding will be spent locally and cannot be taken by County or State politicians.

Measure M will provide regular police patrols in neighborhoods and parks to combat crime and drug use. Measure M will provide new technology for crime solving, quicker emergency response times, and body cameras.

Measure M will provide a solid foundation to rebuild our General Fund and return to a “pay-as-you-go” City with no debt.

There are concerns this is not a good time for a sales tax increase when so many of us are struggling due to the economic shutdown from COVID-19. However, Measure M exempts items from sales tax that are necessary for living and therefore, will protect those living on low and fixed incomes. Exemptions include groceries, water, utilities, rent and mortgage payments, prescriptions, and medical devices to name a few.

When likely Citrus Heights voters were scientifically polled by EMC Research in the middle of the pandemic lockdown from June 24-July 1 of this year, 66% said they would support a sales tax measure to fund community priorities provided it was spent locally and there was fiscal oversight.

According to HDL Tax Consultants, over 40% of our sales tax is estimated to be currently paid for by people from outside our city.

Your city is not exempt from the effects of the pandemic either. Revenues are down over $3.5 million this year and our 10-year financial model forecasts a deficit for the next seven out of ten years, even when we begin receiving our property taxes beginning in February 2023.

From June: 10-year budget forecast for Citrus Heights looks grim

Citrus Heights has been run on a fiscal shoestring since cityhood. Major cost savings have included forming our own Police Department at an annual savings of several million dollars per year, building civic center improvements without taking out loans or selling bonds, and building a new City Hall valued at $22 million for net cost of $8.9 million.

Due to the economic downturn, we have already cut costs by not filling 17 positions in the Police Department. Our City Manager has cut the Executive Team from six to three Directors, saving taxpayers over $500,000 annually in salaries.

Citrus Heights has always managed to do more with less, thanks to our dedicated and professional employees.

If Measure M is not enacted, we are looking at serious cuts to public safety and homeless initiatives because of the ongoing loss of revenue to our General Fund. Significant budget cuts will have to occur during a time of social unrest, early release of convicts from California prisons, activists calling to defund our police, and property crime increases.

Without Measure M, our police will be restricted to emergency calls only, Citrus Heights families on the verge of homelessness may not get the help they need, and our major road projects will have to be put on indefinite hold because we will lack matching local funds for Federal, State and Regional transportation grants.

Measure M will ask each of us to make a small investment of a few dollars a month in our City of Citrus Heights, which will end up paying dividends to every resident in increased property values, increased safety, more good paying jobs, and a better overall quality of life in our community for generations to come.

Guest Opinion: 7 myths about Measure M

A community that is safe and well-maintained is even more desirable to home buyers, small businesses, employers, restaurants, and healthcare providers looking to locate in Citrus Heights. Measure M will help attract major employers, retailers, hotels, entertainment promoters, and developers to invest in the Sunrise Mall redevelopment and our local economy.

An independent Citizen’s Oversight Committee will monitor all expenditures and all Measure M funding will be subject to annual third-party financial audits.

There will never be a better time to act.

Steve Miller

Please join me and thousands of others who share a vison for a bright future for Citrus Heights by voting YES on Measure M. Together we will make Citrus Heights Safer and Stronger.

Steve Miller currently serves as vice mayor of the City of Citrus Heights.

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