Election Update: COS’ bond measure ‘C’s’ good standing in Visalia

TULARE COUNTY – Measure C has the potential to bring a university center to the College of the Sequoias, and although votes are still being counted, it seems that Visalians are voting in favor of funding the new center.

The latest update from the Tulare County Elections Office shows that the community college bond measure, which would ultimately fund College of the Sequoias’ (COS) anticipated University Center, has received 15,573 “yes” votes and 12,598 “no” votes. With a 2,975-vote lead, it appears Measure C is on track to bringing more major courses and degrees to Visalia.

If passed, the bond would generate $95 million by asking local voters to pay an additional $13 per $100,000 per assessed value on property taxes each year. This tax would allow COS to pursue more partnerships with four-year universities similar to its current partnership with Fresno State University. New partnerships could provide students with more opportunities to earn bachelor’s and master’s degrees while staying closer to home and entering the local workforce.

Additionally, the University Center could help students with two-year degrees from community colleges who would prefer to stay in the region as they earn a bachelor’s degree. This can reduce the cost of earning a degree at a four-year facility by at least 50%. According to the full text report for the measure, the cost to attend California’s public universities has risen to nearly six times that of attending a community college, so more and more local students and their families are relying on College of the Sequoias for affordable education. 

“This measure allows our local community college to create seamless local programs to get a Bachelor’s degree as quickly as possible and at a reasonable price,” the text stated.

Community-wise, the benefits of bringing more university coursework to Visalia includes providing local employers, medical facilities, school districts and private businesses with educated workforces. It also enhances local career opportunities and makes Tulare County an attractive destination for businesses to relocate to by increasing the number of county residents with bachelor’s degrees.

Measure U 

Meanwhile in Exeter, Measure U received another shot at garnering public approval this election and was put on the ballot for a second time after it fell short by 5% in the June 7 Primary. As votes are counted now, 1,711 people have voted “yes” and 1,440 have voted “no” on the measure, giving the measure a chance at redemption.

Measure U is a special parcel tax of $35 per year, which is just shy of $3 per month, to restore life to three local cemeteries under the Exeter Cemetery District. This includes the Exeter Cemetery, Deep Creek Cemetery in Farmersville and Hamilton Cemetery, which is off Avenue 310 between Exeter and Woodlake. The tax is a flat, per parcel rate, meaning large landowners will not be taxed more than small land owners unless they own multiple parcels. It would provide the cemetery with $270,000 more a year to fund designated projects outlined in the ballot. In order to keep up with inflation, the amount will increase by 2.5% annually.

Without the additional tax revenue, the district says it may only be able to operate five more years before it runs out of funds.

Measure B

In other news, Exeter’s Measure B, a cannabis business tax ordinance that would authorize the city to impose a sales tax on cannabis products at commercial dispensaries, is currently taking favor amongst the small town. Thus far, there are 920 “yes” votes and 447 “ no” votes, distinguishing the two by over half of the counted amount.

Passage of Measure B does not mean a retail cannabis shop will be opening in town. It only makes it easier for the city to establish an ordinance if the council decided to allow dispensaries in the future.

However, Exeter may see its first medical marijuana dispensary following a few changes to Exeter’s ordinances made by Exeter Planning Commission. The final approval of the new ordinances is up to city council and will be voted on before the end of the year, which will be the deciding factor for the medicinal clinic BioLife to enter into the community.

Measure Y

Over in Tulare, the city’s proposed Measure Y, also a cannabis business tax ordinance, is taking favor amongst the community. As of current election results, 4,626 people have voted in favor of the tax and 2,446 have voted against it.

Measure Y places the decision of the cannabis tax in the city council’s hands so they can make the decision on what percentage cannabis retail businesses in the city will be taxed. This includes the already established medical-turned-commercial dispensary, Herb ‘N Vibes, and the dispensary’s incoming competitors, Valley Pure and Token Farms.

Revenue from Measure Y will benefit community needs, such as law enforcement, parks and recreation, infrastructure and the emergency homeless shelter. The tax imposes annual rates on cultivation, gross receipts and other cannabis business. It is only a consumption tax and will only affect those who purchase cannabis products. Additionally, the measure only applies to operations within the city limits and will not raise taxes on residents, their homes or their properties.

Measure W

Tulare’s Measure W bond is currently only separated by 13 votes, with 164 people voting in opposition while 151 have voted in favor.

Measure W would allow the governing board of Sundale Union Elementary School District to issue and sell $3.8 million in bonds to fund improvements to school facilities, while also requiring a property tax of $30 per $100,000 of assessed value. This means, under the measure, that a property assessed at $400,000 would likely have an annual tax obligation of $120, according to the measure’s impartial analysis report.

Also according to the report, the bond’s projects list includes: constructing a new gymnasium for school and community use; repairing or replacing any deteriorating sewer systems and plumbing; and making upgrades and repairs to outdoor areas such as parking and ADA access ramps.

Measure X

Another measure in Tulare, Measure X, which would also supply bond funds towards Sundale Union Elementary School, has also received negative community feedback thus far. Right now, 176 votes are pointing towards “no” and 140 votes are aimed at “yes.”

Measure X is another bond proposed by the rural school near Tulare whose governing board is asking for $4 million in general obligation bonds to address safety, class size reduction and technology needs for the school. The measure would also require a property tax of $30 per $100,000 of assessed value.

The project list for the school includes: constructing a new gymnasium for school as well as community use; repairing or replacing deteriorating sewer systems and plumbing; and providing upgrades and repairs to outdoor areas such as parking and ADA access ramps, according  to the measure’s impartial analysis report.

Measure Z

Measure Z for Farmersville, thus far, has received overall community support, with 447 votes going towards “yes” and 236 votes opting for “no.”

Measure Z would authorize the governing board of Farmersville Unified School District to issue $8.6 million in measure bonds to fund improvements towards Farmersville school facilities as well as health and safety. According to the measure’s impartial analysis report, the bond’s project list includes: the construction of new classrooms, including agriculture facilities, to reduce overcrowding amongst students; renovating outdated and aging classrooms, as well as other facilities and furnishings; and improving student access to computers and modern technology.

The measure also authorizes equipment acquisition, upgrades, repairs, services, construction, and other items that are related to the listed projects. None of the proceeds from Measure Z bonds will be used for teacher or administrator salaries, nor will they be used for operating expenses.

Measure A

Another measure in Farmersville, Measure A, is not receiving the same amount of luck and is currently failing by 57 votes with 627 votes having been counted thus far.

If approved, Measure A would establish a 10% hotel tax to fund revenue to the city’s general fund. Although Farmersville currently does not have any hotels, the city anticipates that the tax will generate $185,000 annually once a moderately-sized facility is established and operational, according to the measure’s impartial analysis report.

Also from the report, Farmersville is one of two cities in Tulare County, the other one being Woodlake, that has not enacted a hotel tax.

Measure V

Meanwhile in the city of Orosi, the city’s Measure V currently has 519 votes in favor of the measure while 441 are against it.

If approved, Measure V would authorize the Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District to impose a special tax of $48 per parcel, with funds directed to the district’s sports programs and recreation department for youth in the district. It would also fund a future aquatic complex for the district, according to the measure’s impartial analysis report.

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