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Tuesday November 3, 2020 — California General Election

City of Morro Bay
Measure E-20 Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


4,113 votes yes (58.55%)

2,912 votes no (41.45%)

100% of precincts reporting (4/4).

7,398 ballots counted.

To protect City of Morro Bay's financial stability, local property values and City services, such as maintaining Morro Bay's local Fire/Police Departments, 24/7 paramedics, 911 emergency response, health emergency/disaster preparedness; keeping beaches, public areas safe/clean; retaining/attracting businesses; and other general City services, shall the measure establishing 1¢ sales tax providing approximately $2,000,000 annually until ended by voters be adopted, requiring independent audits, public oversight, all funds used locally?

What is this proposal?

Details — Official information

YES vote means

A “YES” vote is a vote to approve an additional one cent per dollar transactions and use general tax.

NO vote means

A “NO” vote is a vote against an additional one cent per dollar transactions and use general tax

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Chris F. Neumeyer, City Attorney City of Morro Bay

The Morro Bay City Council by unanimous vote placed the Morro Bay Local Recovery/Emergency Preparedness Measure (the “Measure”) on the November 3, 2020 ballot. If approved by the voters, the Measure adds Chapter 3.26 to the Morro Bay Municipal Code to establish an additional transactions and use general tax of one cent per dollar, while the City maintains a current half cent per dollar transactions and use general tax. A Citizen Oversight Committee is continued to conduct semi-annual reviews of revenues and expenditures and to provide reports to the City Council.

The Measure is estimated to generate approximately $2,000,000 annually in revenues for funding of general City services. Funds are placed in the City’s general fund and may be used for any City general fund purpose, including, but not limited to:

·         Maintaining Morro Bay’s local Fire/Police Departments

·         Maintaining Morro Bay’s 24/7 paramedics and 911 emergency response

·         Maintaining Morro Bay’s health emergency/disaster preparedness

·         Keeping Morro Bay’s beaches and public areas safe and clean

·         Retaining and attracting local businesses

Food purchased as groceries, prescription medicine and real property will not be taxed under the Measure.

City staff estimates approximately 70% of the proposed one cent per dollar tax collected on business to consumer transactions will be paid by tourists and non-residents, and thus they will contribute to the City’s ability to maintain general public services used while visiting. Residents and general purchasers of goods in the City will also be subject to the tax.

The one cent per dollar tax is imposed upon gross receipts of retailers from sale of most tangible personal property sold in the City at retail. The Measure also places an excise tax upon the storage, use or consumption in the City of most tangible personal property purchased from any retailer for storage, use or other consumption in the City at a rate of one cent per dollar of the sales price of the property, where “sales price” includes delivery charges when such charges are subject to state sales or use tax, regardless of the place to which delivery is made. Specific transactions and uses subject to the tax are determined under regulations of the California Department of Tax and Fee Administration (“CDTFA”). The tax would be administered by the CDTFA under contract with the City. The City Council may amend the ordinance to further its purpose and intent, but only the voters may approve a tax rate increase. If passed, it will stay in effect until ended by voters.

A “YES” vote is a vote to approve an additional one cent per dollar transactions and use general tax.  A “NO” vote is a vote against an additional one cent per dollar transactions and use general tax. The transactions and use general tax proposed by Measure E-20 would take effect only if it receives a majority “YES” vote at the November 3, 2020, election.



Published Arguments — Arguments for and against

Arguments FOR

We MUST be prepared for any type of emergency! Vote Yes on E-20 to ensure the City of Morro Bay is prepared for any health crisis or catastrophic disaster.

Today it is more important than ever that Morro Bay maintains our LOCALLY CONTROLLED police and fire departments rather than contracting these out to outside agencies.

Voting Yes on E-20 maintains 24/7 rapid 911 emergency response including police, fire and paramedic services by preventing service reductions and updating emergency communication systems.

Did you know 70% of the calls to the Morro Bay Fire Department are for emergency rescue and medical emergencies?

Vote YES on E-20 to prevent significant reduction to the service of our Morro Bay Fire Department so skilled, local firefighter-paramedics can continue to respond to our local life-threatening emergencies and save lives!

Yes on E-20 makes sure visitors pay their fair share for using our services, roads and beaches.

Yes on E-20 protects Morro Bay’s small harbor town character by keeping our public areas healthy, safe and clean and protecting our local property values.

Vote Yes on E-20 to protect the financial stability of Morro Bay, its residents and local businesses.

Here’s what Measure E-20 WON’T do: 

Measure E-20 is NOT a tax on your home/property.

Measure E-20 is NOT applied to food purchased as groceries or prescription medication.

A penny on a dollar purchase is a small price to pay to help our community recover from the pandemic.

By law, Yes on E-20 requires every penny be used for our local services—none can be taken by the County or Sacramento.

Yes on E-20 includes tough fiscal accountability, independent financial audits and citizen oversight—ensuring responsible spending and LOCAL CONTROL.

Join a unanimous City Council, local business and community leaders, firefighters and police officers and vote Yes on E-20.  For more information:

s/ Rob Kitzman  3rd Generation Local Business Owner                        

s/ Janet Gould  Community Member and Local Educator

s/ Stephen PeckMorro Bay Business Leader                                        

s/ Ken Vesterfelt  Morro Bay Police Volunteer

s/ Jane Heath  20-year Morro Bay Homeowner and Taxpayer


Arguments AGAINST

The proposed increase in Morro Bay's sales tax adds an additional burden to our local residents and small businesses, all of whom are struggling to stay afloat in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.

1.        Although the proposal is called a “Local Recovery-Emergency-Preparedness Measure,” it was first introduced pre-COVID. Although labeled "Recovery," it is proposed as a permanent tax increase with no ending date. The City Council's proposed user sales tax increases from .5% to 1.5% per dollar. This is a 200% tax increase.

2.        Our small businesses are experiencing hard times due the pandemic. Any tax increase that adds to the cost for their customers will impact sales. Our small businesses are vital to Morro Bay's future. We need to help them not burden them.

3.        The residents of Morro Bay are already subject to large increases in utility rates, most notably the increase in sewer/water bills. For example, 300% sewer/water since 2015, and garbage increase 20.5% just this year.

Please vote “No” on the proposed sales tax increase

4.        The current mayor and city council have not properly managed the income to the City. An example of their wasteful spending is this ballot measure: paying consultants $85,000 to help get this sales tax increase passed.

5.        A better alternative to a sales tax increase is requiring our city manager to cut the overall General Fund budget by 10%, in addition to cuts already made. A better, long term plan will provide a long term fix to the City's economic woes and preserve our First Responders.

Please vote “No” on the proposed sales tax increase

s/ John Weiss  Candidate for Mayor

s/ Richard E.T. Sadowski  Candidate for City Council

s/ Dan Sedley  Co-Chairperson for Citizens for Affordable Living

Replies to Arguments FOR

Our NUMBER ONE PRIORITY is keeping police, fire and paramedic services under local control. There is NO REQUIREMENT to ASSURE THE NEW TAX IS RESERVED for First Responders.

The new tax will NOT BE PLACED into a SPECIAL ACCOUNT for public safety. The City Attorney's Impartial Analysis states the new tax goes into the General Fund, meaning the tax can be SPENT for most ANY PURPOSE except sewer and water.

There is NO SUNSET CLAUSE or ending date is specified. The Measure's title “Local Recovery” implies that at some point this tax should end.

Don't be FOOLED: This tax increase was initiated in 2019 before the COVID-19 crisis.

If there was “tough fiscal accountability,” as is suggested, then there is NO NEED TO ASK FOR HIGHER TAXES.

Please vote NO

We need:

1. CONCRETE CHANGES that make our city financially strong, NOT just TEMPORARY salary reductions, and elimination of PART TIME (umpires, coaches, etc) and PREVIOUSLY unfilled positions.

2. STRICT SPENDING RULES that don't bend but keep the City within budget, not expensive consultants for lofty projects.

Pismo Beach is voting to raise their hotel bed-tax rather than sales tax. Morro Bay should consider a raise in hotel bed-tax, rather than requiring RESIDENTS TO PAY an 8.75% SALES TAX!

MORRO BAY FAMILIES are struggling financially. Through strict spending rules, concrete changes, and raising the hotel bed-tax, the City can PRESERVE OUR POLICE, FIRE, PARAMEDICS, and services like safe roads and clean beaches.


s/ George Leage  56-year Businessman, Former City Council Member

s/ Ann Reisner  35-year Private Property Management

s/ James Warner  Morro Bay Fire Department (retired)

s/ Linda Winters  GSMOL Representative of Mobile Home Owners

s/ Barry Branin  Small Business Owner and Engineer (retired)

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Measure E-20 SUPPORTS Local Businesses and Residents through the recovery! That’s why local businesses and neighbors are saying YES on E-20!

Measure E-20 was developed with COMMUNITY INPUT—over several months of a community empowered engagement process, hundreds of residents provided input on the priorities Measure E-20 will address, including:

  • Preparing for a medical/catastrophic emergency
  • Maintaining 24/7 911 emergency response
    • Maintaining 24/7 paramedic services
    • Maintaining 24/7 police services
    • Maintaining 24/7 fire protection services
  • Keeping public areas healthy, safe/clean
  • Protecting the financial stability of the City, residents and businesses

If you were one of the hundreds of residents who participated in a community meeting or provided us your feedback, THANK YOU! Your input was included in Measure E-20—review the official Measure E-20 ballot language.

Voting YES on E-20:

-Prevents cuts to our local fire/public safety services, so our local firefighters and paramedics can continue to save lives!

-Protects our local fire and police departments from being contracted to outside agencies.

-Keeps our taxpayer dollars LOCAL, to address OUR needs. Morro Bay must be self-reliant in any crisis.

-Provides clear accountability/transparency through public oversight with business and community leaders watchdogging every dollar spent.

The City of Morro Bay is a prudent fiscal steward of taxpayer dollars and operates on the leanest of budgets with no room for cuts without sacrificing services. Recently 78 City employees were laid off, remaining employees received salary reductions and City Council gave up their stipend.

Vote YES on E-20 – protect our small harbor town and City services!  

s/ Susan Stewart Local Small Business Owner                      

s/ Barbara Spagnola Member, 2006 Measure Q Oversight Committee               

s/ Tim Cowan  Local Small Business Owner                        

s/ Jeff Eckles  Boat Captain and Waterfront Business Owner

s/ Betty Forsythe  Retired Teacher and 23-year Morro Bay Resident



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