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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justchuck

Apparently G stands for Gouging Greatly! Vote no to continued rip-offs by overpaid bureaucrats!


r0y

Vote NO on Measure Greed!


SamLouis

I find myself keeping an electronic shopping basket open on Amazon these days until I have enough to qualify for free shipping. Similarly, I keep a running shopping list for when I’m in PR, AG or SM and can shop at WalMart. I’ll be doing a great deal more of both if this hideous new tax is approved. I suspect others will as well.


With some of the savings maybe I’ll sign-up for Amazon Prime?


SamLouis

One cannot but marvel at the level of chutzpah and arrogance displayed by the three whose names are on this article. Absolutely stunning.


Their sales shtick is slick and I have but one response: NO!


SamLouis

I suspect Rademacher is salivating at the thought of a continued funding source for his hideous signs. Go ahead and bulldoze what’s left of SLO’s Chinatown. We’ll put up an ugly sign in its place.


HarryMalone

If Boehner can sue Obama can we sue the SLO City Council and City Manager for breach of contract when the money is not spent as promised?


MEASURE ‘G’ STANDS FOR “GOVERNMENT GREED”!


Dan Carp

Harry

That’s the rub…..you can’t sue because these are not contractual promises. It’s marketed to you with the sole purpose of ascertaining an affirmative vote. General purpose taxes can be appropriated for anything the current council desires. A special purpose tax would have assured the spending of this revenue for a specific purpose and could have been challenged contractually had that not been done. These types of taxes rely on a tremendous amount of trust in your elected officials.


The responsibility is on the voters to elect the right people on November 4th.


SLOBIRD

Good statement, Dan, but certainly not realistic.


We, as a society, have become a lawless society due to our leadership top to bottom. The Constitution is no longer the law of the land, who can trust our Federal Government (IRS, Veterans, Defense, Health Services, Homeland Security, Immigration, etc.) or State Government when we have 3 Democrats awaiting trial or sentencing for corruption, or local government from the BOS or local cities.


Only the politicians and their sidekicks benefit from these types of taxes. If the tax was real it would be labeled for open space and traffic, etc.


This tax is strictly for the General Fund and will be spent at the pleasure of the Council and City Manager.


This tax will pay for salaries, pensions, healthcare, etc.


VOTE NO on MEASURE G = Government Greed


mkaney

Why call out the Democrats? Both parties are overrun by people who have perfected the art of lying, and the only difference between them is WHO will be the beneficiaries of their overspending. The difference in rhetoric between the two is only to keep the people sharply divided enough so that no other parties will gain power.


SLOBIRD

Absolutely, mkaney, but the point was there are currently 3 democrats in Sacramento awaiting trial or sentencing for corruption. I would be more than happy to call out a republican but there is no republican charged. I am a democrat and was making a statement. Me, I don’t trust or like any politician any more. They all lie, seek power and control and are corrupt which is why nothing will ever change for the good.


roberttorrance

people cant keep track of more than two things at a time….


hijinks

” If the tax was real it would be labeled for open space and traffic, etc. ”


Well, there is the possibility — not very likely but possible — that we’d have politicians who were honest enough ethically who would see to it that the implied promises to voters were kept even without a legal requirement that they be kept. This council bunch, however, aren’t that type of politician. Staff has them wrapped around their little finger. And that’s the problem — the council refuses to think for themselves, they let staff set all the agendas.


I say vote No because this crew will squander the money on almost anything but what’s listed on the ballot.


scoopone

More money for more raises, more employees and more pension liability down the road…no thanks!! SLO is going broke and we (citizens) are going to pay for it. We need

responsible government, not high-paid administrators who can’t think out of the box.



No to more taxes…learn to live within your means (budget) just all of us have to do!!



Pearce and Rademaker….two fat cats telling us how we should vote….laughable!!


roberttorrance

i think these guys are trying to pass the buck…


achillesheal

“Responsible Government” the quintessential oxymoron!


roberttorrance

around 60% of the citizens are on the government dole, either through being employed by the government or receiving some kind of assistance…..that means 40% of the people pay for the other 60%…..hmmm….yet we worry about environmental sustainability while we dont even consider that this amount of government spending is unsustainable…


October

No, thanks.


Mariposa

The SLO City Council has agreed to: “Developing a philosophy of fiscal responsibility that calls for an APPROPRIATE BALANCE between personnel costs and capital improvement projects.”


“Appropriate balance” is certainly open to interpretation. Appropriate balance may mean something entirely different to the City Council than to what Clint, Andrea, and Pierre like to call “the typical SLO resident.” Give the City Council a mere inch, and they will take a yard!


VOTE NO ON MEASURE G.


obispan

The way the game is played is that revenues are diverted or wasted and that basic municipal services that you expect are now “extra”, because, as we know, SLO is flat broke:) If you don’t vote for the tax we will deny services. An old pro who worked for the County of SLO told me what the official strategy was; if denied revenue make cuts as painful to the public as possible. Police patrols, roads, library hours. Make sure they know about it.


hijinks

“make cuts as painful to the public as possible” That’s exactly Lichtig’s plan. You are so right that basic services become extras. Look what the city has done with our water and sewer costs — up and up and up and up. What you might not know is that when you pay your water bill, you also pay for part of everything at city hall. I mean EVERYTHING, even Lichtig’s and the city attorney’s inflated salaries. They milk the water and sewer funds, and the city council just endorses these “best practices” year after year, and our rates just go up and up to pay for stuff that has nothing at all to do with water or sewer. It’s all in the city budget which is online at slocity.org.


roberttorrance

if this doesnt get passed they will find some other way to “pass” the cost onto joe public…..


SLOBIRD

“Developing a philosophy of fiscal responsibility that calls for an APPROPRIATE BALANCE between personnel costs and capital improvement projects.”


How can there be a balance when 90% of the budget goes to salaries and benefits. Out of the other 10% we have contracts that go to folks like Rademaker Advertising Agency or Pease’s Build Green movement.


This is all a scam….


Measure G = Government Greed


NO*NO*NO*NO*NO*NO*NO*NO*NO*NO*NO*NO*NO*NO


hijinks

And don’t forget the Chamber gets hundreds of thousands of city funds each year, and the Downtown Association is supported entirely by taxes the city collects and turns over to them. And here are these three agents of these two organizations telling us to vote yes. Isn’t that a bit self-serving?