City Council appoints Measure T Citizens Oversight Committee

April 07, 2017
Santa Paula News

Five members were appointed by the City Council to the Measure T Citizens Oversight Committee, formed in the wake of the passage of the 1 cent sales tax meant to benefit police, fire, youth programs and roads.

Mayor Jenny Crosswhite announced the names of those selected from among 18 candidates: Andrew Sobel, Rosemary Chacon, Jose Melgar, Johnny Flores and Kristin Majda will serve 2-year terms on the inaugural board whose responsibilities and powers still must be defined.

Candidates passed over included members of the Santa Paula Police & Fire Foundation who were active in the Measure T campaign as well as those that were at the forefront of Measure F, a previous attempt at a Special Tax that fell short of the two-thirds voter approval required. By law, a Special Tax must be spent for the use presented to voters.

The successful sales tax was designed to raise General Fund revenues, and, as a General Tax requiring a simple majority of voters, the council can allocate the funds for any purpose. 

But, the sales tax ordinance approved by Santa Paula voters contained a fiscal accountability provision that called for the creation of an oversight committee to make recommendations to the council on the expenditures of revenues generated by the sales tax measure and confirm that such revenue is expended in accordance with the intention of the voters and State law. 

The council established the guidelines for the Measure T Oversight Committee on November 16, 2016. 

At the special meeting of March 27, 2017, the council interviewed 18 candidates for the inaugural five-member committee using scripted questions.

Mayor Jenny Crosswhite said she would propose a slate of candidates, “but first I want to say thank you,” to all that applied. “We had eighteen amazing candidates but only five spots.”

She urged that those with the “enthusiasm” to serve but not chosen for the Measure T Oversight Committee to “reapply in two years. The city also has a slate of other boards and committees,” that Crosswhite said she hoped candidates would also be interested in serving.

In addition, Crosswhite said she hoped those who applied continue to be involved.

“Please pay attention to when meetings are,” and attend to share their ideas.

Vice Mayor Ginger Gherardi said “In addition to having eighteen great candidates, we had to put them into slots, that played into it,” when the council interviewed candidates.

According to the ordinance, the Measure T Oversight Committee was designed to have one member active in a business organization representing the business community located in the city; one member active in a senior citizen organization located in the city; one member active in a city-based civic organization; one member active in a youth organization located in the city and one resident at-large.

“I thank everybody that took the extra step,” and came forward to apply said Councilman Martin Hernandez. “We encourage you all to stay engaged,” and offer feedback.

Interviews, he added, made for a “long evening,” and all the candidates were “very impressive…”

Councilman Clint Garman said “In two years I expect twice as many to come in as candidates…that night we came to an agreement and we’re thankful for the people that came forward.”

Gherardi suggested the council “Will have to sit down and meet with the group, there were some questions asked that we couldn’t really answer,” that should be revisited.

Terms of the members — who are not compensated — will be staggered so that the terms of the three members end in even-numbered years while the terms of the other two members end in odd-numbered years. How that will be determined is still to be outlined but can be accomplished with a lottery.

The committee has its work cut out: they must select a chair and vice-chair from among its members and establish the frequency and times of meetings, which are governed by the Brown Act and must be posted.

A simple majority of the committee will constitute a quorum, and a majority vote can remove a member who misses two consecutive meetings or are not present at 50 percent of the meetings over a 12-month period.

According to the ordinance, “The Committee shall act in an oversight capacity to review revenues and expenditures generated by the Santa Paula Local One-Cent Sales Tax in order to ensure conformance with the budget allocation approved by the City Council. The Committee’s specific duties are as follows:

Report annually by May1 on the recommended expenditure of the Santa Paula Local One-Cent Sales Tax revenue; Annually review revenue receipts and expenditures of the Santa Paula Local One-Cent Sales Tax; Annually review the status and performance of programs and services funded wholly or in part with proceeds from the Santa Paula Local One-Cent Sales Tax; Annually prepare an independent report to the City Council regarding the revenue and expenditures of the Santa Paula Local One-Cent Sales Tax.”

City Manager and Finance Department will provide technical and administrative assistance to the committee.

The Measure T sales tax took effect April 1 and is expected to generate more than $2 million a year.





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