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Tuesday, Apr 16 2013 12:03 AM

Measure B, Keeping Stallion Safe

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Stallion Springs CSD General Manager Mary Beth Garrison addresses community members on the proposed Police Tax. Photo by Ed Gordon/Tehachapi News

Stallion Springs residents will have another opportunity to learn more about the proposed police tax at an informational meeting set for Wednesday, April 24, at 6:30 p.m. at the Stallion Springs Community Center.

Seventy four residents attended a similar meeting on March 23. General Manager Mary Beth Garrison, Police Chief Brad Burris and Sergeant Mike Grant were the speakers.

Garrison gave details of the process for proposed tax initiative, "On the June 4 election ballot there will be a Measure B. It will read, 'Shall the Stallion Springs Community District levy an annual special tax beginning the year 2013 of up to $120 per parcel for the sole purpose of funding police protection services as provided in resolution 2013 -- 02.' This is a special tax for a specific purpose and the board has elected to use the residence requirement to vote. In order for this measure to pass it requires a two thirds majority of those who vote to pass. Most ballots are just a majority, this is a two thirds majority. That makes it a little more difficult. At the end of the day it's your decision."

Garrison noted that the budget for the Stallion Springs Police department was less than half of the department in Bear Valley where they have a both a police and gate tax.Their public safety tax adds up to $155.40, she said. Cal City just went through this exact process a ballot measure and passed special police tax of $150.

Sergeant Mike Grant said, "We have three full time police officers right now and we have one reserve. Essentially, we have our Chief, Sergeant and our Senior officer. We work a 12 hour shift then we go on call for 12 hours. We have the only working Chief, as far as I know, in California and I know he's the only Chief that consistently goes out on call and also works patrol."

We've had an increase in calls for service, increase in officer initiated activity and increase availability via text email and cell phone. We also handle additional duties that are usually done by other officers or clerks. We began in 1972 with a Police Chief and two police officers. At that time there was 60 people in Stallion, 41 years latter we we are still operating with a Chief and two officers."

Chief Brad Burris said, "It gets to the point where its not safe. This wasn't started from the General Manager, or the Board of Directors. I went to the board and Mary Beth and said we have to change something here. We're losing ground; our guys are tired, I'm tired. We can't continue to do this. We have looked for the past three years for every funding source we could find.

"I need your help we need your help. What are we going to do if it doesn't pass? I don't know. I'm coming to you with my palm out saying I need help.

Questions from the audience followed. "What are we getting for the tax? "I've heard a rumor, are we going to merge with Bear Valley PD." There was a loud laugh from the crowd and Burris replied, "Two full time bodies and no, no, no."

How did you arrive at the amount?

Burris responded, "We formed a committee consisting of myself, Mary Beth Susan Muller, Dave Bert and Sally Lawrence. Two board members, one from the public, the Chief and General Manager. We looked at budget, what it costs to operate per officer. We felt that for the least amount of money that we could possibly do was two people."

"Why didn't you start with just one more officer?"

Burris replied, "I don't want to put a band aid on this. All we need is for one on these guys to get hurt and all of a sudden its changed significantly from what we can do for you. I'm thinking its going to pass, but it's up to you."

Another audiance member said, "I have issue with people being able to vote on measures that cost property owners that don't have a dog in the hunt. But thats a voting law."

Burris responded, "I was trying everything that I could to keep it under $100, but that's what it costs, if you want to come in to the office, I'll sit down and I'll show you.

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