South Pasadena Needs the Utility Users Tax (UUT)

Letter to the Editor

An outside organization believes that the UUT should be eliminated. Why would the City of South Pasadena want to end its local control of our emergency services and the progress being made on key projects?

This outside organization is asking South Pasadena voters to do away with a local tax that voters have supported for decades and provides 12 percent of the city’s budget. Some claim that the city has too large a reserve or that the city is not managing the funds efficiently. Through the leadership of the City Manager and the prudent direction of the City Council, the city has done much to reduce costs and implement efficiencies. These are but a few:

Refunded water bonds, reducing costs

Merged the City Manager’s and the City Clerk’s Offices

Purchased outside water rights to reduce the increasing cost of water

There has also been much progress in updating our vital infrastructure. Some of those efforts have included:

The long-needed repairs to streets and sidewalks

Re-building of critical reservoirs, Grand, Wilson, Garfield and Graves are underway 

Let’s be clear: Without the UUT, there will be significant cuts to ALL local services. South Pasadena would have no choice, but to make drastic cuts to police officers and firefighter/paramedics—increasing 911 response times; eliminating senior services like Meals-on-Wheels; reducing tree trimming, park maintenance, and new tree plantings; cutting back on library services; reducing street and road repairs and maintenance.

Getting rid of the UUT has no impact on pension obligations and would only create more of a budget squeeze.

I lived in an un-incorporated area in the past that was serviced by Los Angeles County Sheriffs and know first-hand that their response can be slow. We just need to look at the lack of monitoring of the Gold Line now.

South Pasadena voters have enacted the local UTT funding measure over six times at the ballot box to protect and maintain these very local services that one outside organization wishes to discard. The last election reduced the tax from 8 percent to 7.5 percent, and there is a low-income exemption. The UUT funds have been handled by the city in a fiscally responsible manner.

Funds generated from the UUT cannot be taken by Sacramento or the county to balance their budgets. The funds stay in South Pasadena to improve and maintain our quality of life.

Remember what the UUT provides to the community and why you live in South Pasadena. I am a fiscal conservative and want unnecessary taxes and regulations reigned in where possible. What I don’t want is to eliminate a local tax that is being well spent and well managed and that allows for South Pasadena to remain a special place to live. The UUT money stays here and helps us maintain the local services. That is why I encourage all So Pas voters to vote NO on Measure N.

Kim Hughes
South Pasadena