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Mixed Results for Special District Local Revenue Measures

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In last week's "off-year" election, voters decided on 74 local measures, including nine special district local revenue proposals. The results for special districts were mixed.

Of the nine special district measures, four secured the two-thirds vote required to pass. Among the five district measures that failed, four received more than 50 percent of the vote, but fell short of the two-thirds threshold required for passage. Thus, 80 percent of the special district measures that failed passage obtained majority of voters' support.

According to the California Local Government Finance Almanac, in elections held between 2001 and 2012, half of the two-thirds vote measures placed on the ballot by special districts, cities, counties and schools have failed. Of those two-thirds vote measures that failed, over half received greater than 55 percent of the vote.

Because all special districts provide limited, focused services, all special district taxes are inherently special taxes. Thus, a city could pass a general tax that is intended to fund its fire department or parks department using a 50 percent vote threshold, while community services districts, parks and recreation districts, fire protection districts and others must achieve a two-thirds vote.






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