Jessica Cejnar / Monday, Dec. 28, 2020 @ 5:54 p.m. / Local Government
Measure S Oversight Committee Applications Go Out; Members Tasked With Reviewing Tax Revenue Expenditures, Spending Priorities
Members of the Measure S oversight committee will likely spend their first year deciding how Crescent City should spend those extra tax dollars, according to City Attorney Martha Rice.
About six weeks after voters approved a 1 percent sales tax increase, the Crescent City Council approved applications for five residents to sit on the required oversight committee.
Those members will be tasked with reviewing how much revenue the tax increase generated during a fiscal year, how that revenue was spent and if it coincided with the spending priorities presented to voters, Rice said. The oversight committee will also make recommendations on how that tax revenue should be spent in the next fiscal year, she said.
In addition to the five voting members, the city manager and finance director will be on the oversight committee in non-voting roles.
“They’re there to make sure the committee has information and is working with staff so that information can be disseminated directly to Council,” City Manager Eric Wier said. “The Council will be the ultimate deciding factor. The Council’s the one that sets the budget, which then dictates where expenditures go.”
Approved by roughly 2/3rds of Crescent City voters on Nov. 3, Measure S is expected to generate about $1.3 million annually. Those dollars will go into the general fund and will be used to implement Crescent City Fire and Rescue’s master plan and Crescent City Police Department’s staffing plan; to reopen and operate the Fred Endert Municipal Pool; and for local street maintenance, including fixing potholes.
The Crescent City Council adopted the ordinance setting the tax on Dec. 7.
According to Wier, of the revenue that’s expected, specific percentages haven’t been allocated to each priority. The city does receive about $100,000 in Road Repair and Accountability Act, or SB 1, dollars, every year, but Wier said that doesn’t go very far in addressing the city’s road repair needs.
“In the past, we’ve used it for some design money,” he said, using as an example a storm drain project along Front Street that’s being paid for using Community Development Block Grant dollars. “We used it to help design Front Street and paired that with our CDBG grant and that’s how we got Front Street done.”
Noting that nearly 2/3rds of the community approved the sales tax increase and has a diverse set of needs, Crescent City Councilor Blake Inscore urged staff to take a “balanced approach” when it comes to deciding on oversight committee members.
“I think (voters) voted for a balanced approach of this projected $1.2 million,” he said. “I think that needs to be part of the education process with the oversight committee so there’s not this sense that five people want to put $1 million of that towards the pool. I don’t think that’s what the community voted for.”
Inscore’s new colleague on the City Council, Mayor Pro Tem Alex Campbell, asked staff to draft a resolution requiring the oversight committee to meet once per quarter.
“As money starts coming in, they need to meet more and more often to see how we’re spending that money and what we’re doing with it,” he said.
However, Rice said she and staff are in the process of drafting a set of bylaws that would address those issues. For example, she said, meetings will likely occur more often toward the end of the calendar year and the beginning of the next calendar year as the city prepares for its next budget cycle.
Inscore said the City Council should allow the committee to determine how they want to do business. The Council’s responsibility is to allocate the money, he noted.
Crescent City Mayor Jason Greenough agreed with Inscore.
“They’re going to know what they need to do and how many meetings it’s going to take,” he said.
Wier said he hopes to get committee applications back in late January, which will then be disseminated to the mayor. He said he hopes to bring recommendations before the Council on Feb. 1.