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RIVERSIDE (CNS) - Measures to extend or add tax levies -- including one  that supporters argue is vital to keep the municipality's emergency services  available -- were enjoying strong support tonight in various Riverside County  cities.

In Banning, 84 percent of voters approved Measure E in a vote-by-mail- only election. The measure will permit the city to continue collecting a 12  percent transient occupancy tax from hotels and motels.

Supporters argued that the tax, which is charged to hotel and motel  occupants for overnight stays, is comparable to what many localities in the  region impose.

In Desert Hot Springs, Measure F had the backing of 65 percent of  voters, with 29 percent of precincts reporting. The proposal calls for the  imposition of a $372.68 tax on vacant parcels that are privately held  throughout the city.

The city council voted in favor of placing the measure on the ballot  following the declaration of a fiscal emergency, under which city hall staffing  was cut by two-thirds and many remaining employees' salaries were slashed by 22  percent, according to documents posted to the Riverside County Registrar of  Voters' website.

According to supporters, the funds generated from the new parcel tax  will be used exclusively to pay for public safety services, including police,  fire, animal control and code enforcement. The ``Yes on F'' campaign stated  that, without the additional revenue, the city could face bankruptcy and the  loss of its police department.

Opponents countered that the tax would be punitive, unfairly targeting  owners of unoccupied land.

In Cathedral City, a majority of voters appeared ready to enact Measure  B, which will allow for the continuation of a 1 percent sales and use tax first  established four years ago. Of 2,288 votes counted by 9:30 p.m., 71 percent  favored the ``Fiscal Emergency Tax,'' imposed primarily on retailers for every  transaction involving real merchandise.

The ``Yes on B'' camp argued the estimated $4 million generated by the  measure would ensure Cathedral City ``maintains our locally controlled police  and fire departments and other vital programs.''

In Perris, meanwhile, Measure C was bound for approval, with 65 percent  of votes from nearly half of precincts in favor of the bond authorization,  under which $40 million in general obligation bonds may be sold in support of  the Perris Elementary School District.

Backers noted that local schools are in need of a range of repairs and  upgrades, including expansion to accommodate more than 900 enrollees -- 40  percent above what the facilities were designed to handle.

The last local measure on the ballot, D, was also destined for  enactment, with 74 percent of voters from one-fifth of  precincts affirming it.  The proposal asked voters in the Coachella Valley Water District to decide  whether members of the Board of Directors should be elected by division, or  continue to be elected via a general district-wide vote.