Early voting in the Nov. 8 general election in Riverside County begins today.
Residents who want to cast their ballots in advance can do so at the Registrar of Voters’ main office in Riverside, 2724 Gateway Drive, through Nov. 7.
Early voting will also be available at the Westfield Palm Desert shopping center, 72-840 Highway 111, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 5.
The registrar’s office will also be mailing 121,000 vote-by-mail ballots today. Absentee voters will have until 8 p.m. Nov. 8 to return the completed ballots, or they won’t be counted.
The upcoming election includes requests for tax hikes in three municipalities.
The cities of Coachella, Indian Wells and Palm Springs are all seeking increased levies to boost revenues, while the city of Riverside is asking voters to approve a 10-year extension of an existing tax.
If Measure I is approved by two-thirds of Riverside voters, the city would be authorized to continue collecting a $19-per-parcel property tax dedicated to supporting operations at the city’s eight public libraries.
Voters first approved the tax in 2002, but it expires next year. Measure I proposes extending the levy to 2022, generating about $1.4 million annually.
Indian Wells city leaders are asking a majority of voters there to enact Measure H, which would increase the municipality’s transit occupancy tax from 9.25 percent to 11.25 percent.
According to supporters, the hike would translate to an additional $1 million in general fund income annually, providing money for police, street maintenance and public works projects. According to ballot measure backers, the city needs more revenue to offset the loss of funds stemming from the Legislature and Gov. Jerry Brown’s decision to abolish local redevelopment agencies.
The tax would be imposed on hotel and motel guests.
Palm Springs voters will decide whether to increase the city’s sales tax by 1 percentage point. Under Measure J, the levy would go from 7.75 percent to 8.75 percent. The increase would remain in effect for 25 years.
Supporters emphasized that the city only receives 1 percent of the aggregate sales tax, with the state taking 6 percent and the county siphoning away 0.75 percent.
“Measure J will create local revenue which cannot be confiscated by Sacramento or Washington,” backers wrote.
But the Palm Springs Taxpayers Association slammed the proposed increase, saying the money could be used for anything, including raising city employees’ salaries.
In Coachella, a majority of voters will decide whether to approve a half- cent increase in the local sales tax, raising it from 1 percent to 1.5 percent on all retail transactions. Measure K has a companion measure, L, which asks voters to state whether the additional revenue raised should be reserved for expanding park space and building or improving community centers and other public recreation facilities.
Five cities have council or mayoral races on the Nov. 8 ballot.
In Blythe, six candidates are running to fill two seats, and in Desert Hot Springs, three candidates are vying for two council seats, while Mayor Yvonne Parks will attempt to fend off challenges from business owner Alex Bias and the Rev. Robert Bentley.
The council race in Norco has seven candidates competing for three seats, with incumbents Kathy Azevedo, Berwin Hanna and Greg Newton all trying to weather challenges. One candidate, former Norco City Councilman Herb Higgins, is using the city’s recent cuts to fire and police services to save money as a campaign rallying cry.
In Palm Springs, four challengers are trying to unseat council incumbents Rick Hutcheson and Lee Weigel. Mayor Steve Pougnet will square off with six aspirants to his job.
In Riverside, City Councilman Steve Adams, a retired police officer, will try to fend off a challenge from United Parcel Service supervisor and 17- year resident John Brandriff.