By Reggie Ellis

For the second time in four months, Farmersville voters have voted down a utility tax measure that would have funded several city positions cut for budget reasons.

Fifty-three percent voted against Measure G, a 4% tax on the monthly phone, cell phone, electric and natural gas bills of residents and businesses within the city. The measure needed 51% to pass.

&#8220This tells me that the people of Farmersville are satisfied with the way things are,” said Renee Miller, Farmersville's interim city manager and finance director. Only about 750 registered voters cast their vote for the measure, as opposed to the more than 1,100 that voted in the Farmersville Unified School Board election. &#8220If people don't vote that means they don't see a need,” Miller added. &#8220That's really the only way to look at it.”

The measure would have generated an estimated $230,500 in annual revenues to bring back city services cut for budget reasons in 2004, including animal control ($80,000), park maintenance ($55,000) and possibly another full-time firefighter ($42,000).

The City of Farmersville eliminated its part-time animal control, park maintenance, code enforcement officer and youth sports programs last summer as part of the effort to balance the city's budget, which began the year with an $83,000 deficit in the General Fund.

The General Fund covers all costs not earmarked for specific programs and projects, such as city council, administrative costs, building inspections, police, fire and animal control. Like all California cities, Miller said Farmersville only receives about 1.25 pennies for each dollar spent in the city, with the rest going to the state.

In order to improve its finances, the city put two measures on the November 2004 ballot. Measure V, a $6 utility users tax, was narrowly defeated

The other, Measure U, a one-half cent sales tax increase to 7.25%, was approved by 63% of voters. The measure is estimated to bring the city a total of $200,000 from September of this year through September 2006.

However, Measure U will only generate half of the money needed to pull Farmersville out of its deficit. Together the two measures would have provided Farmersville with about $500,000 annually.

&#8220Things will continue the way the are,” Miller said.

Only the front portions of the parks will be mowed once a week, bathrooms will remain closed and the city will continue to use the SPCA for animal control on an as needed basis.

This time around the city included a provision for senior citizens (ages 62 and older) on fixed incomes exempting anyone receiving supplemental social security benefits from paying the tax.

Any provision, allowed for the City Council to reduce the rate from time-to-time, but could never increase the rate above 4.0% without another ballot measure.

&#8220Hopefully we will see some commercial development that will bring additional sales tax revenue into the city,” Miller said. &#8220There isn't much else we can do.”

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