Measure Y renewal moving toward SLO voters

May 22, 2014

sloBy JOSH FRIEDMAN

After Councilwoman Kathy Smith switched her position earlier this month on renewing Measure Y, four out of five members of the San Luis Obispo City Council continue to support placing the half cent sales tax on the November ballot.

State law requires a two-thirds vote of the council to send a general sales tax initiative to voters. At a May 6 council meeting, Smith agreed to provide the fourth vote needed to place Measure Y back on the ballot as long as the council would create a citizen’s oversight committee to track the use of the funds.

On Tuesday, Smith held her new position, though she indicated last week at a Measure Y panel discussion that her mind was still open.

During the council discussion, debate continued over the wording of the November ballot measure and the composition of the proposed committee.

Much of the dispute over Measure Y surrounds the city’s use of the sales tax dollars for capital improvement projects. City staffers claim they spent 60 percent of Measure Y funds on capital improvement projects, but critics suggest that the majority of the money went to routine maintenance and backfilling salary and pension costs.

The ballot measure, as currently proposed, states that sales tax dollars will go to capital improvement projects but makes no mention of salaries and pensions.

During the hearing, Mayor Jan Marx requested that staff explain how the city defines capital improvement projects.

City finance director Wayne Padilla said capital improvement projects consist of non-routine maintenance activities and city expenditures of at least $25,000. Assistant City Manager Michael Codron said capital improvement projects are projects that are contained within the city’s capital improvement plan, such as open space acquisition.

“Maybe not exactly what would be meant as a textbook definition,” Codron said.

Major expenditures listed in the capital improvement plan include street maintenance, creek flooding protection and sewer system upgrades. The city is deferring most of the spending, though, on the sewer upgrade until at least the next fiscal year.

Both councilmen Dan Carpenter and John Ashbaugh said they oppose the creation of a citizen’s oversight committee and that voters should elected new representatives if they are not satisfied with the ways in which money is spent. Ashbaugh, though, said he is willing to work with Smith in creating a committee in order to place Measure Y renewal on the ballot.

Smith requested that the citizens oversight committee have the authority to direct staff on how it spends city sales tax funds. The majority of the council, however, said Tuesday that they oppose granting a committee that power.

The council will continue to hash out details of the proposed committee, including requirements for membership, at its June 10 meeting. In order to place Measure Y on the November ballot, the council must finalize the wording of the initiative and a corresponding ordinance by August 8.


27 Comments

  1. jarhead says:

    NO AND HELL NO

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 12 Thumb down 0

  2. hijinks says:

    “The ballot measure, as currently proposed, states that sales tax dollars will go to capital improvement projects but makes no mention of salaries and pensions.”

    It doesn’t matter what the council resolution sticking this on the ballot says. The tax is a general tax that goes into the general fund. They can, and will, spend it on whatever they want. That’s how general taxes work.

    Renewal of Y is strictly a “trust me” situation. Since they’ve shown us in the past 8 years we cannot trust them, that makes it absurd to vote for measure Y renewal.

    They COULD do a designated tax, ALL of whose proceeds would go into, say, capital improvements, but other than Kathy Smith they will not. What’s that tell you? A designated tax would require a 2/3 vote. If the city had the trust of its residents, that is wholly possible. Since more and more people are waking up to how dishonest and hypocritical the city has become, it would be harder to get 2/3 than it would have been, say, 15 years ago, or even before they lied to us about how they’re using Y funds.

    Even so, with a designated tax they’d find a way to scam funds for salaries. Water customers, for example, pay for the city manager’s and city attorney’s salaries through their water bills, on the pretext that part of their work concerns running the water department. So, where there’s a will to spend on salaries, they’ll find a way. Surely they’d come up with some similar claim for capital improvements. We all know Katie and Christine go out with their boots and hardhats and gloves to dig ditches on these capital projects. Shouldn’t they get paid for it? :-)

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 15 Thumb down 1

  3. achillesheal says:

    Vote yes to keep your taxes high and provide more funding for higher government salaries, pensions, and more waste!!!

    Should be an Obama campaign slogan.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 3

  4. SamLouis says:

    “…Smith requested that the citizens oversight committee have the authority to direct staff on how it spends city sales tax funds…” <— Isn't the city council supposed to do this based on input from their constituency and their own finely-tuned minds?

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 17 Thumb down 0

  5. SamLouis says:

    Just say “NO!”

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 22 Thumb down 2

  6. Can someone please provide an operative definition of what a Capital Improvement Project
    (A CIP) actually is other than we have spent over 60% of all Measure ‘Y’ revenues on those things that the city has referred to as a “CIP” since the creation of Measure ‘Y’ ??????

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 2

  7. scoopone says:

    Of course, let’s give them more money to spend on salaries and to pay for those sky-high
    pensions. When are we all going to wake up and make some serious changes in this
    town. No to measure Y.
    -

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 23 Thumb down 2

  8. Old Salt says:

    We pay to much in Taxes already…
    Enough is enough…!

    So, LOWER Taxes…

    I have wondered why NO ONE…
    Not Brown…Not “The Obama”
    is complaining about the “price” of gasoline… ! ! !

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 18 Thumb down 2

    • kayaknut says:

      Why??? because the taxpayers are paying their gasoline, along with every politician in Sacramento

      Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

      • hijinks says:

        You’re so right. Our esteemed city attorney, who just got another pay raise because Jan Marx and Carlyn Christianson think she makes too little (they’re both lawyers — go figure), also gets a monthly car allowance — so we are literally paying for her gasoline.

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 0

        • SLOBIRD says:

          What would justify a City Attorney having a car allowance. Her work is at City Hall and the Courthouse and law library are across the street from City Hall. She drives to work, to lunch and home (maybe a trip to the gym or to the bar). Her brother-in-law probably car pools with her, you know the one that Christine and Monica Irons are breaking all the personnel rules to get him hired, even creating a position for him, but the dumb s%i$ can’t even pass the test so they keep him as a temporary.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 0

  9. justchuck says:

    Raise taxes? Raise salaries. Say NO!

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 30 Thumb down 2

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