Keep Kern safe with Measure I

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By Kimberly Hernandez

Reporter

Earlier this year, the California Department of Education’s annual crime statistics revealed that, out of the 58 counties that make up California, Kern County had the highest murder rate in 2017.

The reality that Kern has become an unsafe place to live can be worrisome to those who reside in the county. It may feel like the issue with Kern County has gotten out-of-hand, especially when the statistics prove that the county is the leader in murder and homicides.

However, the upcoming November election may give Kern County residents an opportunity to make a positive change in their community. Measure I on this year’s ballot, seeks to improve the safety, and quality of communities within Kern County. Kern inhabitants have the chance to change the criminal statistics that currently exist.

The proposed measure, if passed, would result in a 1 percent increase in sales taxes paid within Kern County communities; this means the current sales tax of 7.25 percent would be increased to 8.25 percent.

Bakersfield City residents will vote on a similar tax increase with Measure N.

Although the difference in taxes paid may not seem like a drastic change, there may be some people who will be opposed to the raise in taxation. However, voting residents should take into consideration the benefits that the slight tax increase would bring about.

If passed, Measure I is expected to produce an additional $35 million dollars to the current county budget.

Measure I also states that the money that is acquired through the tax increase would be invested in “public safety and protection, parks, code enforcement, roads and libraries.”

Improving roads and providing better parks and libraries would clearly be a positive contribution to the community. However, there seems to be a primary focus on how the measure will strengthen law enforcement presence in Kern County.

The increase in the yearly budget would allow for the hiring of more law enforcement officers to protect the streets and our communities. With crime rates being at all time high, the increase in law enforcement officers seems like a step towards a solution.

When federal, state, and local taxes are already being taken from people’s paychecks, it may seem like adding another percent to the current sales tax is out of the question.

To put things into perspective, a person who spends roughly $500 a month in taxes would pay an additional $60 a year in sales taxes should the increase be implemented. The increase is slight and it would be used to not only safeguard our community, but to also ensure the children of our community will live to continue to make the community better.

Whether or not Kern County residents are willing to pay an extra 1% to ensure the decrease of homicide rates will all depend on the results of the election that will take place on Nov. 6, 2018; the measure requires a majority vote to pass.

Voting information can be found at www.kernvote.com