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Merced voters to decide whether to extend public safety tax. Issue qualifies for March ballot

Supporters of Measure C have collected enough signatures to ask Merced voters whether the tax should be extended for another 20 years.


September 18, 2023

The future of Measure C, a half-cent public safety tax that primarily benefits Merced’s police and fire departments, will be in voters’ hands in 2024. 

Supporters of the measure have collected ample signatures to ask Merced voters in March whether the tax should be extended for another 20 years. 

A Friday afternoon email from Merced County Registrar of Voters Melvin Levey to Merced city officials confirmed Measure C’s supporters did successfully reach the threshold of 3,988 valid signatures to put the issue on the March ballot. 

Without an extension, the measure would sunset in 2026. It first was approved in 2006 with a 20-year lifespan. 

A group of citizens called “The Committee for a Safer Merced” led by former Merced Mayor Mike Murphy, spearheaded a signature-gathering campaign in hopes of renewing the tax.

Murphy’s group formed after the Merced City Council last year blocked the tax renewal from appearing on the November 2022 ballot. “We know the overwhelming majority (of voters) in Merced want a fully-funded police department and fire department,” Murphy told CVJC.

Since 2006, Measure C has generated $105 million. It’s expected to generate $8.8 million this fiscal year. Without the half-cent tax, city officials estimate Merced could face a $7 million annual budget shortfall and lose stable funding for the police and fire departments.

In order to pass, Measure C must receive a simple majority of votes in favor of renewal.

The committee received strong backing from the city’s police and fire unions, along with many in the business community, Murphy said.

Murphy expects the committee will grow between now and March to include more volunteers who will continue spreading the word about Measure C. “This is going to be a full campaign to make sure residents understand the choices before them in March,” he said. 

The only difference between the current iteration of Measure C versus the 2024 ballot version is the latest measure will be a special tax, meaning it can only be used for public safety and some road maintenance. 

The current version of the measure is a general tax, meaning it can be used for any city expenditure. 

Murphy said his group looked at how money was generally allocated under Measure C since its passage, and 95% went to public safety and 5% went to roads. He expects those percentages would remain the same if Measure C is extended. 

RELATED STORY: Supporters of Merced’s Public Safety Tax submit signatures to put Measure C before voters in March 2024

Victor Patton is the engagement editor for the Central Valley Journalism Collaborative, a nonprofit newsroom based in Merced. Sign up for CVJC’s free Substack list  and follow CVJC on Facebook.
This story was published in partnership with the Central Valley Journalism Collaborative, a nonprofit and nonpartisan community newsroom. To get regular coverage from the CVJC, sign up for CVJC’s free Substack list follow CVJC on Facebook.

Central Valley Voice
Central Valley Voice
Felicia Roberts took an idea gathered a few people to reached into a minority community to highlight the positive, using a minority newspaper the Central Valley Voice. Roberts was joined by her sisters Carolyn Williams, Alleashia Thomas, niece Hermonie Lynn Williams, nephew Ron Williams, cousin Jerald Lester, Jay Slaffey, Greg Savage, Tim Daniels and the late J Denise Fontaine. Each individual played an important role in the birth of the newspapers. Since, then many have stood strong behind the success of the newspapers and its goal to fill a void in the Central Valley community The Central Valley Voice published their 1st issue in November 1991. Its purposed was to highlight the achievements of minorities in the Central Valley. The Voice focuses on the accomplishments of African Americans and Hispanics giving young people role models while diminishing the stereotypical pictures of gangs, crime and violence that permeate the minority communities. Since 1991, the Central Valley Voice has provided an important voice for the minority community throughout the Madera, Merced. Stanislaus and San Joaquin counties.

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