At the June 25th City Council meeting, the Duarte City Council voted unanimously to declare a fiscal emergency. With the start of the 2019-20 fiscal year on July 1st and to maintain service levels that ensures the City remains the vibrant community its residents cherish, Duarte will begin deficit spending. The current budget calls for the City to use a projected $1.2 million from its General Fund reserve. This action is only a short-term solution and one that is not sustainable for the City’s long-term financial future.
Like so many things in life, the cost of providing essential public services is also rising. Duarte’s key revenues such as sales and property taxes are not keeping pace. Many of our neighboring cities are also grappling with these issues including Arcadia, Monrovia, Glendora, Pomona and Pasadena, who face mounting annual costs to programs and services.
The Council’s action is one of the many steps the City has taken and will take to continue to protect and maintain critical services. By declaring a fiscal emergency, Duarte can now give its residents the opportunity, as soon as the March 2020 ballot, to consider raising its sales tax from the current rate of 9.5% to 10.25% and keep all of the new revenue in Duarte to be spent locally. It is estimated this additional ¾ percent will generate approximately $2.6 million per year in revenue to both safeguard the City’s long-term finances, as well as ensure that our residents and businesses continue to have access to the same, high-quality public safety, drinking water, recreation, youth, senior and transportation services it has enjoyed for over sixty years.
This action by the Council will not change the City’s ability to deliver services that are used every day, and residents won’t see any difference in the day-to-day operation of the community. Instead, this administrative action, required by California law, allows the Council to explore options to generate additional revenues to strengthen the City’s finances including a revenue measure. Over 30 L.A. County cities have passed local sales tax measures, including most recently Glendora and Arcadia with San Gabriel and Monrovia later this year.
Overall, Duarte residents have a very positive image of their local government, especially their parks and recreation and safety services. In fact, in a recent survey, approximately 62 percent felt the City was going in the right direction and over two thirds of those surveyed believe Duarte needs additional funding to provide and maintain services.
The Duarte Council wants to continue the City’s tremendous progress and feels strongly about giving their residents the ability to control their own destiny and can keep their tax dollars local should they choose.
The City Council and staff will continue providing updates on our collective efforts to protect the City’s ability to deliver essential services.