By Staff Reports
(Apple Valley)– Earlier this week, Apple Valley residents overwhelmingly voted to oppose Measure O, a 1% sales tax measure placed on the ballot by the Town Council.
“The question before the community was whether or not they would support an increase in the local sales tax rate to raise additional revenues needed for rising costs of police, parks, and other town services,” said Town Manager Doug Robertson. “The response was a resounding no.”
As a result of the measure’s defeat, the Town will begin reducing services to head off a looming budget deficit.
“These are difficult times and while we are disappointed in the results, we appreciate the community’s input,” said Mayor Scott Nassif. “We’ve significantly curbed spending over the last few years but will now have to make deeper cuts to parks, recreation, and public safety, unfortunately, to live within our means.”
The Town will close the Aquatics Center and the Recreation Department’s Distance-Learning Day Camp after Thanksgiving week and the After-School Activities Program, a Town funded and operated program in partnership with Apple Valley Unified School District, will not resume this school year. Three positions held vacant pending the outcome of the measure will not be filled as a result and the Town will implement a hiring freeze for the foreseeable future.
In the coming months, Robertson will present to the Town Council strategic recommendations to further reduce expenses to make up for a forecasted revenue shortfall of $4.5 million in the upcoming budget year.
One anticipated cutback is the temporary closure of the municipal Apple Valley Golf Course which would save an estimated half million dollars per budget year.
The Town is also exploring reducing the number of police deputies and staff to stabilize the escalating cost of law enforcement services, which rose from $14 million last year to $15.5 million this year and will climb to $16.5 million next year and $19.9 million by 2025. The year-over-year increase simply outpaces the growth of Town revenues, particularly as COVID closures and economic impacts have decimated municipal finances throughout California in 2020 and beyond. The estimated savings is $1.5 million.
Staff furloughs will also be considered which will close Town offices and buildings to the public two days per month, resulting in an estimated cost savings of $1.16 million.
These anticipated budget cuts follow previous steps made by Robertson after arriving in Apple Valley in 2018 to reduce Town spending, including reducing staffing levels, terminating two Assistant Town Manager positions, cutting employee compensation and benefits, and closing one Town park.
The Town’s employee compensation was one area widely speculated as an opportunity for cost savings. However, the Town’s annual cost of salaries and benefits of $10.7 million is significantly less than other municipalities. For example, Hesperia’s annual cost is $19.4 million, and Victorville’s is $49.8 million.