With the city of San Bernardino declaring bankruptcy and other California communities teetering on the brink of similar fiscal emergencies, financial challenges surround us. Cities and towns throughout California are working hard to survive the Great Recession and state laws that take funds away from our local communities. In Yucca Valley, declining revenues and state actions have forced us to cut millions in spending, impacting our ability to provide the local community services that you value.
The town is committed to the proper management of taxpayer funds and has made the tough choices necessary during the economic recession. The organization downsized from 52 to 41 full-time employees. The remaining town employees made sacrifices to help balance the town’s budget, learning to do more with less, and accepting a series of pension reforms that resulted in considerable savings in recent budgets and will assist us in controlling costs into the future. These efforts have resulted in balanced budgets throughout the Great Recession.
However, significant challenges remain. Yucca Valley faces a $14 million deficit in road maintenance that was inherited from the county when the town incorporated. Contract public safety costs continue to rise. Fuel is more expensive. The cost of doing business continues to rise — all at a time when property values (and property taxes to the town) continue to diminish.
Without additional funds, we cannot maintain services at the levels necessary for our community. Town-provided services — such as maintaining and repairing existing streets and alleys and public safety — are all central to preserving our community’s small-town character and local way of life. They are also important to protecting local property values.
The town of Yucca Valley recently circulated a survey to engage residents and obtain feedback on these issues. We received extensive input from residents about the services important to them including:
• Lowering the costs for the state mandated sewer improvements;
• Improving and protecting local property values;
• Maintaining and repairing existing neighborhood streets and alleys;
• Maintaining local control of local funds to address community priorities;
• Preserving our small town atmosphere and sense of community;
• Maintaining local paramedic/firefighter services.
Unfortunately, the state continues to pass laws that take local funds away from Yucca Valley — threatening our ability to address your local priorities. Without additional locally-controlled revenues, the Town of Yucca Valley cannot adequately or effectively address these service needs.
One of the options being considered is a local revenue measure (a 1-cent sales tax) to give our community the resources it needs to meet the challenges it faces. A local revenue measure would give Yucca Valley control of our destiny by providing Yucca Valley local control over local funds, for our needs — funds that would be protected by law from Sacramento.
We are grateful for all the feedback we have received from the community and will continue to provide updates as we propose local solutions and options to address our community’s challenges. For more information, please visit www.yucca-valley.org.