Early returns are not looking good for the city of Perris.

According to the Riverside County Registrar of Voters, which is administering the election, 2,240 ballots have been processed as of Tuesday night with 52% voting in favor of Measure A — a special business tax the city says would help fund the maintenance of public roads. The measure requires a two-thirds majority vote in order to pass.

“We’re following the results like everyone else, and we’ve got our eye on our results,” Stephen Hale, public information officer, said. “Once that decision is finalized, then we can begin executing our next steps.”

According to the city, if passed Measure A would provide approximately $4 million annually for the “improvement, operation, maintenance, repair and/or restoration of Perris public roads.” The tax would only apply to distribution facilities and industrial businesses.

“Our city continues to grow and thrive, but that growth has also meant more strain on our local streets and roads,” Mayor Michael Vargas and Councilmember Malcolm Corona wrote in a joint statement supporting the measure. “The city has done all it can to keep our roads safe and maintained, but the increase in distribution facilities, warehouses, and industrial businesses has strained city public roads, impacting collector streets, arterial streets, and truck routes – and making it harder for residents to get around. That is why we need Measure A.”

Decon Sulli, the executive director for the commercial real estate development association NAIOP-Inland Empire Chapter, argued against the measure, calling it a “job-killing double-tax.”

“Warehouse facilities in Perris already pay for road, sidewalk, parks and other community improvements when the city council approves these projects,” Sulli wrote. “The city council wants to impose a new $120 million tax to fund road improvements when the city is sitting on millions in unspent taxes and fees that warehouses have already paid for road improvements.”

In their rebuttal, Vargas and Carmona said the one-time project fees the city currently collects are for new roads and bridges, not ongoing maintenance, and reiterated that the tax would only apply to distribution facilities and industrial businesses and was estimated to bring in $4 million annually.

“The lone author of the argument against doesn’t live in Perris, understand our community, or have his facts right,” the pair wrote.

Hale said the city was prepared to accept the results of the election with the understanding that at the moment, it seems that the measure is likely to fail.

“Anytime you get something that requires two-thirds approval to pass, that’s always an uphill battle to begin with,” he said. “We were aware of that before this measure came to the ballot, and so it’s kind of consistent with what we’ve seen in other cities who have also tried to pass on two-thirds approval, so we’re not surprised by it.”

Hale said if the measure ends up failing, the city would continue to explore other avenues to address the issue of road maintenance in the city.

“Our goal is to continue to put the best foot forward for the betterment of Perris, and our elected officials will give us guidance and city staff will execute their guidance the best that we can.”

According to the registrar’s office, there are 569 vote-by-mail, three conditional voter registration ballots and an unknown number of ballots postmarked on or before Election Day that have not yet made it to the office that still need to be processed. The next update is expected to be posted at 6 p.m. today on the registrar’s website.

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Alicia Ramirez is the publisher of TN News and the founder and CEO of its parent company TN News.