Last Monday, the Pasadena City Council unanimously voted to place the Pasadena City Services Protection Measure on the Nov. 3, 2020 ballot. The measure, calling for a charter amendment, must be approved by a majority of Pasadena voters to maintain the longstanding Light & Power Fund transfer to the General Fund that pays for services including 911 emergency response, fire, paramedics, and programs for public health.
Currently, the Pasadena Light & Power Fund transfer provisions of the Pasadena City Charter are being challenged in court on whether the portion of the electric rates used is considered a tax and has met the requirements of voter approval that are called for in Proposition 218 and Proposition 26, despite having previously gone to and been passed by voters a combined total of seven times since the 1930s.
As a full-service city, Pasadena relies on locally generated funds to deliver services to its residents. The City of Pasadena has experienced a $30 million loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Despite those losses in revenue, the city used reserve funds, deferred infrastructure projects, and implemented other cost-saving measures to maintain its current emergency response to the pandemic, public health programs, and critical services.
If the Pasadena City Services Protection Measure does not pass, the loss of approximately $18 million annually from the Light & Power Fund transfer will result in significant reductions. The reductions would impact emergency 911 response; fire, paramedic, public health, and senior services; homeless programs; and street repairs.
The Pasadena City Services Protection Measure is not a new tax, it does not raise taxes, and it does not raise utility rates — the charter amendment is meant to simply protect current funding levels that provide the services residents receive today.
If approved by a majority of Pasadena voters, the measure will also require annual independent audits with public disclosure, reduce and limit the Light & Power Fund transfer to not more than 12 percent, previously as much as 16 percent; and will be under local control with monies spent benefiting Pasadena residents and businesses.