The failure of the tax measures shouldn't have come as a complete surprise as people usually vote to support one tax measure but no more than that, said Michael Coleman, a local government finance expert.
The conventional wisdom is to give voters one item to decide on, Coleman said.
If people have more than one tax choice, "they might say I don't want all of these" and reject them all, he said.
Mayor Elliott Rothman predicted just that outcome during a campaign forum in October, saying he thought all five measures would fail.
Pomona measuresPomona residents denied five ballot measures on Election Day.
- Measure T sought to change the way council members are elected. Council members are currently nominated by voters of the district they live in and elected by district. Had the measure been approved, candidates would have been nominated by district voters but elected at-large.
- Measure U called for the approval of updates to the city's charter proposed by a citizens commission.
- Measure V would have raised the city's transient occupancy tax charged at all hotels in the city, producing some $288,000 a year for the city's general fund.
- Measure W would have increased the city's property transfer tax, generating about $1 million annually for the general fund.
- Measure X would have established a parcel tax that would have produced about $1.5 million per year for the library.
Pomona voters denied Measures V and W, which sought increases to existing taxes, and Measure X, which would have established a parcel tax to generate revenue to pay for the operations and services of the city's Public Library. The other two measures, T and U, involved broadening elections and updating the city charter, respectively.
The struggles in Pomona to get the measures passed was in contrast to other cities in California.
Ten out of 24 parcel taxes in the state received approval from voters. Of the 10 that passed, five were extensions of existing parcel taxes, Coleman said.
The best approach would have been to seek the assistance of a consultant to help determine what had the best chance of being approved, he said.
Councilman Freddie Rodriguez said he would have preferred to leave all three tax-related measures off the ballot.
"Just the word tax is a big no-no in the age we're at," Rodriguez said.
Councilwoman Cristina Carrizosa said the city had no choice but to try.
In the spring, council members voted to place Measures V and W on the ballot in an effort to bring in revenue to the city's cash-strapped coffers. Later, residents called for placing Measure X on the ballot to create a stable source of funding for the library.
The city faced two obstacles in passing the tax-related measures - a weak economy and absence of some type of campaign seeking support for Measures V and W, Carrizosa said.
"There was no organized effort," she said. City Hall could not campaign for any of the taxes.
Carrizosa said voters told her they needed information that clearly spelled out what each tax measure was and what it would do.
That was especially true of voters who are naturalized citizens and are more comfortable going through weighty subjects in their native language, she said.
Unlike Measures V and W, Measure X supporters worked diligently and were able to garner many votes, Carrizosa said. Although Measure X didn't achieve the necessary two-thirds majority to pass, it received 60 percent support.
"That demonstrates the community is willing to pay for that service," she said.
The council must now look for different ways of generating revenue to fund services.
"We've got to think outside the box," Rodriguez said. "We have to be different."
Paula Chamberlain, Pomona's finance director, said the the process of developing a budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1 will begin next month and will include collecting information on revenue and revenue projections.