SLO’s Measure G deserves a yes

September 11, 2014

slo gOPINION By CLINT PEARCE, ANDREA PEASE and PIERRE RADEMAKER

As the co-chairs of SLO Citizens for Measure G, we firmly believe that Measure G will benefit all San Luis Obispo residents and therefore deserves the community’s support.

As a reminder, Measure G seeks to renew a half-percent sales tax that SLO voters overwhelmingly approved eight years ago as Measure Y.

We believe Measure G is necessary to fund the kind of improvements we want to see in the future, such as preserving open space, keeping our parks clean, maintaining our streets and sidewalks, reducing traffic congestion, and promoting safer, quieter neighborhoods.

SLO Citizens for Measure G represents a diverse group of community activists, environmentalists, agriculturists, small-business owners, nonprofit representatives, former elected leaders and others who share our belief that our city needs the continued investment in city services that this half-cent sales provides.

Here are several other reasons we support Measure G:

G is a renewal; it’s not a tax increase: As noted above, Measure G would continue the revenue that voters overwhelmingly approved of eight years ago as Measure Y. Yes on G means the city can continue to improve essential services.

G benefits all residents: This tax provides millions of dollars a year to fund street repairs, flood prevention, open-space preservation, bike paths, downtown safety and many other items that improve the quality of life for all residents.

G is affordable: This half-percent tax equals about $1 a week for the typical SLO resident, yet it generates $6.5 million in revenue to the City of SLO. And all of it stays here to be invested in city services. It’s also a significant portion of the city’s general operating budget, about 12%.

G is fair: Nonresidents and tourists – who are large users of virtually all city services – pay nearly 75% of the tax while residents pay a little over 25%. That indeed is a fair deal for residents.

Opponents of Measure G allege that the city is sitting on a secret pile of cash reserves and doesn’t need Measure G. That’s simply wrong on two counts:

First, there’s nothing secret about the city’s cash and investments. The city regularly reports on its investment portfolio, and this information is publicly available and posted on the city’s web site.

Second, while the city does have approximately $87.4 million in pooled investments from all city funds, about $75.4 million of that is set aside for specific projects, such as improving the Los Osos Valley Road interchange, regular maintenance and upgrades of the city’s sewer and water system, and for special capital improvements such as parking garages. In short, monies for restricted purposes like water, sewer and parking cannot be used for General Fund operations or capital improvements.

The remaining $12 million of these pooled investments is the city’s general fund reserve – that is, the city’s rainy-day fund, to be used for emergencies, as in the event of an earthquake or sudden recession.

Opponents have further suggested that the City Council is putting too much money into its contingency fund. In fact, the city should be congratulated for having a solid rainy-day fund. At $12 million, the reserve fund now equals 20 percent of the general fund, the minimum prescribed by city policy.

However, that one-time reserve would be wiped out quickly if Measure G were to fail because the city would instantly lose more than $6.5 million annually. It would take the equivalent of opening 10 new Costcos to replace that revenue. That kind of development just isn’t going to happen and would be inappropriate in any scenario.

We know that some people are skeptical about whether the tax money has been spent as promised. Many of us who support Measure G have shared that concern. But we have reviewed the city’s spending records in detail, and it’s clear that the money has been spent appropriately – and as promised when it went before voters for approval in 2006.

We also know that some opponents of Measure G are concerned that future tax revenue will be used to pay pension costs. Every California city is dealing with pension costs. San Luis Obispo is no different. To its credit, the city has recently implemented pension reforms, and the council has committed to developing a longer-term plan to address the costs of commitments made long ago. Additionally, city employees have agreed to significant concessions in wages and benefits that are saving the city more than $3 million annually.

Realizing that doubts persist, the city council has opted to hold itself to an even higher level of accountability to ensure that these funds are spent properly and clearly tracked. The council has publicly agreed to three critical components:

1. Developing a philosophy of fiscal responsibility that calls for an appropriate balance between personnel costs and capital improvement projects.

2. Appointment of a citizens’ oversight committee to review Measure G expenditures and make sure the city addresses its financial issues in a straightforward, transparent manner.

3. A scorecard that publicly tracks and measures city spending.

The half-percent sales tax has enabled the city to make a substantial progress on improving essential services these past eight years, but much more work is still ahead to achieve the goals of our community. That’s why Measure G is necessary. At $1 a week for the typical SLO resident, it’s a terrific investment, returning millions of dollars in improvements and services for all residents.

Please join us in supporting Measure G. Keep SLO great; vote yes on Measure G.

Clint Pearce is President of Madonna Enterprises and past chair of the SLO City Tourism Business Improvement District.

Andrea (Andy) Pease is an architect and principal of In Balance Green Consulting, and a founding member of SLO Green Build.

Pierre Rademaker, owner of Rademaker Design, is a past president of the SLO Downtown Association

For more information about Measure G and about SLO Citizens for Measure G, click here.


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64 Comments

  1. DennySLO says:

    NO on Measure “G”!!!

    (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
  2. falconbh says:

    A lot of long term costly decisions all across the SLO County.

    1. SLO New Sales Tax Increase
    2. New School Tax Increase
    3. New College Tax Increase
    4. Pismo Sales Tax Increase
    5. Atascadero Sales Tax Increase
    6. Grover Beach New Road Tax Increase
    7. A.G. Charter City

    8. Recent “Automatic Rate Increases ” for Water and Sanitation.
    9. Recent Property Tax Increases and Rental Increases
    10. Recent A.G. Sales Tax Extension approved by City Council.

    After Election Tax Increases:

    11. South County Sanitation “Automatic Tax Increase”
    12. Oceano ” Automatic Water Tax Increase”
    13. Los Osos ” Automatic Water and Sanitation Tax Increases”
    14. Morro Bay ” Automatic Sanitation Rate Increase ”

    Do Not give them Permission or Your Vote to make us their Victims !

    (17) 19 Total Votes - 18 up - 1 down
  3. roberttorrance says:

    sounds like three business leaders trying to keep the tax burden on their customers shoulders, as opposed to their own Hey want to raise twelve million? cut the police department salaries by half……

    (15) 15 Total Votes - 15 up - 0 down
    • kayaknut says:

      Don’t limit it to the police department, try all departments by minimum 25%, limit pensions, stop salary spiking, cut benefits, stop double dipping.

      (11) 15 Total Votes - 13 up - 2 down
      • roberttorrance says:

        y not start out with the most overpaid force in America?

        (9) 9 Total Votes - 9 up - 0 down
        • kayaknut says:

          I was, it is called the “public servant” force

          (6) 6 Total Votes - 6 up - 0 down
    • falconbh says:

      Talking points from consultant that we paid for with valuable taxpayers money !
      The “Education Plan” is starting and soon we will be receiving the mailers with all the pictures and telling us what a great thing all these New Tax Increases and Bonds will do for our communities.

      With the” Fading Middle Class” these New Taxes create a real financial burden for the future.

      Just amazed at how our Elected Public Leaders ,City Managers & Staff, Paid Outside Consultants, and Unions, can be so disconnected from the people. .

      G and all the other New Tax Increases are about Greed and Entitlements.

      Can We Really Afford All These ” New Tax Increases” and ” Automatic Rate Increases”.

      VOTE NO !

      (10) 10 Total Votes - 10 up - 0 down
  4. wineguyjc says:

    By all means vote for Measure G, because all of those other funds are specifically allocated to other projects – that is simply not so. And these funds were always on the books – that is simply not so. The nearly $100 million was only called out on the books when Steve B discovered the accounting or that is unique accounting the City was doing. The funds were cleverly hidden. And yes, if you don’t vote for measure G City services will be cut back, the roads will fail, the water will go off, you wont be able to flush your toilet. And oh yes, City employees have given up so much. These funds will simply be used to back fill funding gaps created for unwarranted raises and for project fee waivers for special developers in the community.

    (15) 19 Total Votes - 17 up - 2 down
  5. SamLouis says:

    If Measure G is rejected, I suspect it would eventually lead to a better (and better run) San Luis Obispo. City management needs to focus on the fundamentals and not on all the politically driven window-dressing as it is today.

    Tighter budgets would require more discipline and focus — both good qualities for any city to have. The “Keep SLO Great” message is appalling. It’s actually offensive. SLO did not become great because of the efforts and spending of people like Pearce, Pease or Rademaker. It has remained great despite the actions of such people!

    SLO enjoys the natural gifts of gorgeous weather, beautiful topography and close proximity to the Pacific Ocean. San Luis Obispo has a very long and rich history. It’s fortunate to be the home of a California Mission and one of the finest universities in the United States. It’s also the county seat of San Luis Obispo County — one of the most intrinsically beautiful places in the world.

    THESE are the foundational qualities that make SLO so special and not the expensive and often times hideous gimmickry of today! Please reject Measure G(reed.)

    (8) 16 Total Votes - 12 up - 4 down
    • roberttorrance says:

      if measure G is rejected, it just means the police, parking meter maids, code enforcement officers among others will just become more active raising revenue as they desparately try to hold onto their great gig…..

      (7) 7 Total Votes - 7 up - 0 down
      • OnTheOtherHand says:

        Subtle extortion is still extortion if reality if not in law. When you allow it to go unchallenged it only gets worse.

        (8) 8 Total Votes - 8 up - 0 down
      • SLOBIRD says:

        Well, maybe they will have to really earn their salary to get paid. Let’s see, maybe the City Council, Mayor, and City Attorney and her job created brother-in-law can give back some of their receive salary increases. Just sayin!!!

        Anyone thinking Measure Greed is not going to salaries, pensions and benefits is not paying attention to this City. Have employees pay their full pension plan, health care and reduce benefits. City Attorney has a car and yet the Court is right across the street, there is about $4,000 saved a year. How many others are getting a car benefit that don’t need it. There is a car pool at City Hall for employees to use.

        The private citizens should form a committee and go to work and show government how to cut costs in a real world instead of raising taxes every time you want something.

        (11) 11 Total Votes - 11 up - 0 down
  6. SamLouis says:

    [B]Vote NO on G(reed)![/B]

    (20) 30 Total Votes - 25 up - 5 down
  7. isoslo says:

    Stop feeding the beast.. Vote no on G!!!

    (25) 33 Total Votes - 29 up - 4 down
  8. Mr. Holly says:

    Very good and informative article.

    Looks like everyone benefits greatly except for the tax payer.

    (32) 40 Total Votes - 36 up - 4 down

Comments are closed.