Election day is now more than a week behind us, but votes are still being tallied and the race for Measure U, a one percent sales tax increase in Coachella, isn’t over yet.
The latest numbers Thursday from the Riverside County Registrar of Voters office show it’s now ahead, but by just two votes.
“Since the Election, it’s been a seesaw, that’s the best I can describe it,” said city manager David Garcia. “On Election Day we were behind one vote. The following day we were up by 2 votes. Then we were down four”
Garcia said the tax hike is necessary because of higher costs for public services and safety. The money would help pay for police, firefighters, paramedics and more.
“The costs are going up, pension reform, contracts, so to provide the same level of services is going to cost us significantly more,” said Garcia.
Countywide, about 20,000 provisional and damaged ballots still need to be processed and counted by the registrar. The registrar said Thursday it’s not clear how many of them are from Coachella.
“They’re having to go one by one from all of the jurisdictions and counting them. The problem for us is one or two votes make a huge difference,” said Garcia.
If the measure fails, the city says it’s prepared, but it could be forced to make some cuts.
“We would have to reduce the number of paramedics, firefighters and police officers in order to reduce the cost of that service so we could afford it,” said Garcia.
If necessary, the city leaders said they’d be willing to pay for a ballot recount.
“The smaller the margin the greater the chance we will request a recount,” said Garcia.
Stay tuned for new results in the coming days. We’ll bring them to you as soon as they’re posted.