RIALTO - Voters on March 5 will decide whether to keep an 8 percent utility-users tax worth about $11 million to city coffers after the City Council on Monday voted 5-0 to place an extension of the tax on the ballot.

State law required a unanimous vote to put the measure forward. If approved by voters, the tax extension will last five years.

The city faces at least a $22 million structural deficit if voters don't approve the tax extension, which has been in place since voters approved it in 2003.

Rialto has taken a hit in its General Fund to the tune of more than $8 million over six years. Officials say that's because of declining tax revenue and the rising cost of providing city services.

The General Fund started out at nearly $6 million in the red for fiscal year 2012-13.

Rialto's reserves are expected to dip to $7 million by July 1, according to finance officials.

The utility-users tax - which makes up about 22 percent of the General Fund and is scheduled to sunset in June - is on electric, gas, telephone, water, wastewater and cable.

Its loss would mean massive cuts to city services.

In fact, previous finance reports to the council warned that without the tax extension, Rialto will see a financial catastrophe that could require cuts to public safety and other departments to avoid bankruptcy.

The Police Department faces a $5.3 million hit that could mean the loss of 20 positions and a handful of units.


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The Fire Department is looking at up to $2.9 million in cuts and the loss of a fire station on the north side. Cuts include the loss of 13 positions.

Other possible cuts include public works at $1 million, and recreation at $277,000.

Last week the resolution for a vote failed on a 4-1 count after Councilwoman Deborah Robertson raised questions about whether there weren't other solutions to the city's financial problems, including whether labor groups would give concessions.

Those concerns apparently were answered, and Robertson specifically thanked the Rialto Police Benefit Association "as well as all of the executive board members who came to the table with our management team who were able to work this out."


Reach Joshvia email, call him at 909-386-3894.