UPDATE: Measures A & C Pass In Pair of Landslides

Voters cast their ballots at the Library Community Room on Tuesday, deciding the fates of Measures A and C. Photo by Henk Friezer

South Pasadena voters have spoken, and they resoundingly said “yes” to both Measure A and Measure C in Tuesday’s special election in the city.

With all three of the city’s precincts reporting, Measure A was approved by 66.38 percent of the voters, while Measure C won the day with a 61.38 percent majority, according to results released by the L.A. County Registrar-Recorder/Clerk website.

Specifically, the “yes” votes for Measure A were 2,194, the “no” votes” 1,111. For Measure C, the “yes” votes were 1,977 and the “no” votes 1,244.

Measure A will impose a three-quarter-cent local sales tax — revenues from which will go into the city’s general fund and be used, exclusively, in the city.

Measure C eliminates the elected city clerk — which had become a largely ceremonial position — and gives the City Council authority to appoint a full-time clerk to carry out the role’s highly specialized duties, as is the case in about 70 percent of California cities.

While 100 percent of city’s precincts had reported as of early Wednesday morning, the results are not official until the Registrar-Recorder/Clerk certifies the election – and that can take 30 days. What’s more, the final numbers will surely change slightly due to late-arriving mail votes and provisional votes.

But the landslide victories of both ballot measures will stand.

“The passage of Measure A will allow the city to close its budget gap in the short term and set us on the road to fiscal stability,’’ Mayor Marinia Khubesrian said in a statement released Wednesday morning, shortly after the results were released.

“We have more work to do. This is a first step in the city’s long-range financial sustainability plan. The Measure A funds will help significantly toward maintaining the level of city services that make South Pasadena such a special place to live and work.’’

A woman reads her sample ballot as she stands in line to vote Tuesday at the Library Community Center.
Photo by Henk Friezer

In addition, Khubesrian said, “I am also pleased that Measure C passed, which will align our city with the majority of California cities that have transitioned from an elected city clerk to an appointed, trained professional.’’

As the city continues to grapple with a budget deficit, Measure A was widely viewed as a quality-of-life decision for voters to maintain services such as police and fire, as well as to maintain city infrastructure. Cuts in services and perhaps even staffing had been predicted if the measure failed.

The shortfall is estimated at $1 million in the next fiscal year, and is expected to grow to about $2 million in five years.

Under Measure A, the city sales-tax rate will go from 9.5 percent to 10.25 percent, the state maximum. Sales taxes would be paid by residents and visitors.

Most important for the city, the additional tax proceeds would belong to the city exclusively and not have to be shared with the county or state.

Revenues to the city from the new sales tax are estimated to be $1.5 million annually — which will be sufficient to fill the budget gap for the near future, though additional revenues would be necessary in order to balance budgets after that, officials have said.

Measure C, meanwhile, was a more nuanced — some said, confusing — matter for voters.

The city clerk position had been an elected, full-time job until 2013, when the council voted to bifurcate the role — creating a full-time, appointed “chief city clerk’’ in addition to the elected “clerk.” The chief city clerk now manages the City Clerk’s Division of the Management Services Department.

The appointed position was created for the appointee to serve as a management professional with specialized training, while the elected position carried no such requirements.

The duties currently carried out by the appointed position require expertise in election-law knowledge, records management, Public Records Act matters and other sub-specialties, all of which the previous elected position carried out. The current appointed chief clerk also prepares materials and handles logistics for City Council meetings and oversees city elections.

With the passage of Measure C, the ceremonial duties will fall to the appointed position as well.

The chief city clerk is a full-time employee with a salary and benefits similar to those in comparable cities. The city manager now appoints the chief city clerk and evaluates his or her performance – but with the passage of Measure C passes, the City Council will take on that hiring role.

The current elected city clerk is Evelyn Zneimer. Measure C eliminates her position upon the expiration of her term in 2022.

The current full-time appointed chief city clerk’s job is now held by Maria Ayala.