ORANGE COVE – A special tax that funds police and fire services in Orange Cove is set to expire next year after a ballot measure to indefinitely extend the tax just barely missed the required two-thirds threshold.
Approval of Measure O, which levies an annual property tax of varied amounts dependent on the zoning designation of a lot, received 63.64% of the vote in the Nov. 7 special election; it needed 66% to pass. The measure, which has been around for nine years, generates just under $264,000 and has an expiration date of Nov. 30, 2024.
In a previous interview with the Mid Valley Times, Orange Cove City Manager Daniel Parra said he wanted to get the renewal passed now to avoid missing out on funds that would be lost in the interim if the renewal was approved in next year’s November elections. Because the fiscal year begins every July 1, the tax would only be assessed on properties between July 1, 2024, and Nov. 30, 2024, and then would not start again until July 1, 2025.
Measure O places a $95 annual tax on single-family homes and agricultural lots, a $65 tax on multi-family residential lots, a $495 tax on commercial lots and a $750 tax on industrial lots. It distributes 80% of the generated funds to the Orange Cove Police Department and 20% of the funds to fire services in the city, which are not provided by a city department but instead contracted through the Orange Cove Fire District.
The ballot measure to renew Measure O did not set a new expiration date and would have instead been in place until repealed, had it passed.
Only 11.3% of registered Orange Cove voters — 365 of 3,231 — participated in this election, according to the unofficial election results last updated by the Fresno County Clerk’s office at 1:30 p.m. Nov. 9.
The clerk’s office still has to count an undetermined amount of ballots postmarked on Election Day and received by 5 p.m. Nov. 14 and any signature cure letters — which certify a ballot counted as an “undervote” because the signature could not be verified — received two days before results are certified. According to the clerk’s website, the next results update will be posted by 3 p.m. Nov. 15.
Parra previously told the Times that his contingency plan if this vote failed would be to try to get Measure O on the March 5, 2024, primary election ballot.