The Tulare County Elections Office certifies election results, shows Measure U failed by 13%, the cemetery district will look elsewhere for alternative funding
TULARE COUNTY – After months of attempting to educate the community on the need for Measure U funding and keeping the cemeteries alive, it has fallen short for the second time in 2022.
The Tulare County Elections Office certified votes on Nov. 30, and unfortunately for the Exeter Cemetery District, Measure U once again did not reach 66.6% of votes it needed to pass. In fact it only brought in 53% of the vote, which is a shortfall of 13%. Measure U was 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.
Erica Pine, the certified public accountant for the cemeteries, said it is disappointing to see that even though the measure may have received the majority of votes, it still was not enough.
“The [cemetery] board has a lot of work to do moving forward and has to put a lot of time and effort into finding alternative sources of revenue,” Pine said. “That is what they have got to do. We do have a board position that’s open…so we’re hoping for some new energy, and someone with time, to give us some good ideas on how to move forward.”
The three cemeteries included in Exeter Cemetery District are the Exeter Cemetery, Deep Creek Cemetery in Farmersville and Hamilton Cemetery, which is off Avenue 310 between Exeter and Woodlake. The measure was needed to keep the three cemetery operations from dying, by providing a steady source of income. The funding would help with things like basic maintenance as well as larger scaled projects like the expansion of the Exeter Cemetery as well as connecting the Deep Creek Cemetery to water.
Pine said those are the biggest areas of need within the district. Without the passage of Measure U, their only option is to look elsewhere for different funding opportunities. What that looks like for the district is still unknown, but there are a few possibilities. The district has money in reserves, but with the expansion of Exeter and the connection of water for Deep Creek, she said those funds won’t go very far.
“It wasn’t ever doomsday – if this doesn’t pass we close up, there were reserves, but that reserve is going to be eaten up,” Pine said. “So most of our reserve is going to be consumed by developing the last section in the Exeter cemetery, so then it is back to where we started with no backup plan.”
Currently Exeter has very few grave sites available, and they are already in the process of expanding the area. Without grave site availability, there would be nothing to sell. Pine is hopeful that bringing a new face to the board will help bring new ideas to the forefront and determine the best way to raise alternative funding.
The cemetery does have a second type of reserves, one called the Endowment Care Fund, which is a reserve that cemeteries are required to have according to Pine. She said the money is to be used when a cemetery has reached maximum capacity and therefore would be used for maintenance only. If a cemetery wants to access that money they must go through the courts. Being that the measure did not pass, and the district is looking to be in a tough spot, Pine said it is a possibility the district will look into starting the process of accessing those monies sooner rather than later.
Even though the district tried the educational approach, it still wasn’t enough. There is a lot of history in the cemeteries and Pine said she doesn’t think many people understand why that history is important. For instance, she said the Gill family, who was a large ranching family long ago, is buried in the Exeter Cemetery. At the Deep Creek Cemetery, the Fly Family, who were the original settlers of Deep Creek, which is now Farmersville, are buried there.
Bringing the measure back to the ballot is not completely out of the question, but Pine said they will have to take a much more thorough approach to the explanation of the history of the cemeteries. One idea is a possible partnership with the Exeter Museum. As it stands now, Pine said the district is going to put their heads together and determine a way to find some alternative funding for the cemeteries.
“Nobody likes more taxes,” Pine said. “From a CPA, nobody has ever come into my office and said, ‘you know, I’m glad to pay that tax bill.’ So, it was gonna be a tough one to pass because, we’re tapped out as a community, and as a nation, we don’t want to pay more.”
As for the rest of the races throughout the county, many were close while some were taken by a landslide. As far as the state level propositions and races go, Michelle Baldwin, registrar of voters for the elections office, said there are still other counties included in those contests so the results may not be completed quite yet.
Below are the certified results of local races, with the winners listed in bold.
College of the Sequoias Local University, Careers Measure
- Yes – 55.8%
- No – 44.2%
Exeter Cannabis Business Revenue Measure
- Yes – 66.4%
- No – 33.6%
Tulare Cannabis Business Tax
- Yes – 65.3%
- No – 34.8%
Farmersville Transient Occupancy Tax
- Yes – 49.2%
- No – 50.8%
Sundale Union Elementary School District Bond Measure, $3.8 million bond to address school improvements like new gymnasium and updating sewer system, repairing outdoor areas and ADA compliance
- Yes – 46.5%
- No – 53.5%
Sundale Union Elementary School District Bond Measure, $4.0 million bond to address safety, class size reduction and technology needs
- Yes – 43.9%
- No – 56.2%
Farmersville Unified School District Bond Measure, $8.6 million to address modernizing outdated classrooms, restrooms and school facilities, construct new classrooms and health and safety improvements
- Yes – 68.8%
- No – 32.2%
Cutler-Orosi Joint Unified School District Special Tax Measure, $48.00 per parcel annually raising $234,048 annually to address sport facilities upkeep and youth recreational programs. This measure required two-thirds of overall votes to pass.
- Yes – 46.5%
- No – 53.5%
*Statewide results / **Local results
Constitutional Right To Reproductive Freedom. Legislative Constitutional Amendment
- Yes – 66.9%* / 45.5%**
- No – 33.1%* / 54.5%**
Sports Wagering on Tribal Lands
- Yes – 33.0%* / 27.7%**
- No – 67.0%* / 72.4%**
Online Sports Wagering Outside of Tribal Lands
- Yes – 17.7%* / 17.0%**
- No – 82.3%* / 83.0%**
Public School Arts and Music Education Funding
- Yes – 64.4%* / 53.8%**
- No – 35.6%* / 46.2%**
Regulates Kidney Dialysis Clinics
- Yes – 31.6%* / 25.6%**
- No – 68.4%* / 74.4%**
Tax to Fund ZEV/Wildfire Programs
- Yes – 42.3%* / 32.6%**
- No – 57.7%* / 67.4%**
Prohibition on Sale of Certain Tobacco Products
- Yes – 63.5%* / 48.1%**
- No – 36.5%* / 51.9%**