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.


Loading...
taxpayer

Yeah, by all means, give the City of SLO a tax increase so they can buy more land and take if off the tax rolls. It makes perfect sense.


wineguyjc

Go CLINT PEARCE, ANDREA PEASE and PIERRE RADEMAKER go. Get all the money you can from the little people to subsidize your projects. GO, GO, GO


obispan

Why not just tax Clint Pearce, Andrea Pease and Pierre Rademacher and other beneficiaries for their City-funded projects? How about the businesses who benefit pay $750,000 to redo sidewalks on 2 blocks of Higuera Street. Their interest is in making SLO into Santa Barbara on YOUR dime.


isoslo

Don’t be fooled people the money is for salaries, pensions and other employee benefits.


womanwhohasbeenthere

Fact check:

The city has made ONE purchase of open space in 8 years. Does anyone know where it is? Didn’t think so.


Salaries and benefits comprise $45 MILLION of the general fund $55 million budget. Now staff is touting a survey claiming they are underpaid! Give me a break.


The binding arbitration ruling against the city wiped out most of Measure Y money and continues to eat up $5 million a year. The much-touted pension reforms will not have an impact until 20-30 years from now, when new hires retire.


Have you seen any Capital Improvement Projects? All the items on the Yes on G website were built BEFORE Measure Y. Now all maintenance is considered a CIP so with a straight face the proponents can claim it’s being spent properly. Somehow I have a hard time believing painting light poles is a Capital Improvement Project. Sounds like basic maintenance to me.


Let’s not forget all the money the city squandered on stupid lawsuits, the toxic waste dumping at the corporation yard, the fireman who had bathroom rage and is still on board, etc Is that the sort of Great we want? If so then by all means vote for Measure G and send a message that you are happy with the current management and want to give them even more money to spend on themselves..


Vote NO to Measure G. Nothing will change. I am so tired of the scare tactics.


r0y

It is if right on cue, in comes the “the ‘education program’ a city-sponsored ‘Ad Hoc Citizens Committee carefully composed,’ as LEG consultants put it, ‘of a defined group of key stakeholders who can provide the City with additional input.’ “


In case anyone was asleep or not paying close attention to Richard Schmidt’s EXCELLENT, in-depth analysis of this, I highly, HIGHLY recommend reading it. Twice. At least.


I have made my kids read it, then I read it with them — the lesson in “modern government” alone is fundamental and incredible, but when they (my kids) can go out and see the results around them, it’s a great learning opportunity.


I doubt that these Ad Hoc Citizen Committee realize the damage they’re doing, instead focusing on their own personal profits; that’s fine, it is just when they are dishonest about it (or at the very least disingenuous) is when I have a problem.


Again, please RE-READ Richard’s piece from August 14. Obviously, these clowns did not, as they played their useful idiot parts out precisely as Mr. Schmidt described happen during Measure Y. Same playbook by the government to squeeze out more money they really do not deserve in the least.


pigsrule

I’m unsure why they’re piddling around with half-a-percent tax? Why not a full percent, or better yet, five percent … or how about 10 percent? Need the bucks to buy up all the land SLO can buy – isn’t that why we have government: To buy up land?


By the way, its stated that this isn’t a tax but then later on, they say it is a tax. Let’s just admit it – It’s tax for bigger government.


tomsquawk

economics 101. if you give someone something it’s hard to take it away. feeding at the public trough


r0y

True, but sometimes candy MUST be taken away from babies. For their own good, of course.


DennySLO

Not only NO, but HELL NO! I will not allow this city to falsely promote capital improvements all the while the money has and would continue to be used to pay employees as well as provide raises.

Let us not be fooled again for another 8 years of BS. Take a look at the individuals promoting this TAX! Just follow the $$$$ folks and it’s very clear who benefits and it’s NOT the citizens of SLO.

NO ON MEASURE “G”


achillesheal

Did voters get what they believed they’d get with Measure Y which collected about $6M/year. Coincidentally, salaries grew about $6M/year (resulting in increased pensions).


The city of SLO posted in their FAQ about Measure Y that about 40% of Measure Y funds were spent on salaries and benefits for staff.


Is the city mandated to spend 100% of Measure G on all of these wonderful things or is the positive spin merely a campaign promise? It’s deja vu all over again.


hijinks

“Is the city mandated to spend 100% of Measure G on all of these wonderful things or is the positive spin merely a campaign promise?”


The city is mandated to spend 0% on these wonderful things. It’s spin, nothing more. The tax is a general tax. It can be spent on ANYTHING Katie Lichtig wants to spend it on.


Don’t be fooled. You already paid $1500 for measure Y, don’t sign up for another, probably somewhat larger, check you’ll write to city hall.


1 2 3 4