Ridgecrest, Ca.- Following the progress, or lack of progress of Measure L, a 3/4 cent for five years General fund tax barely passed last June by the voters of Ridgecrest, may give some insight of what to expect if Yucca Valley passes a General Fund tax. The demographics of Ridgecrest are similar to Yucca Valley and the new increase takes their sales tax from 7.25% to 8%, which was touted for Police and Roads.
As soon as the tax passed, the Police department demanded a pay increase which diminished their Measure L reserves. Then in December, after severe budget cuts, some of Measure L funds were used to back fill the budget deficit which was legal because it is, after all, a general fund tax. The projected income of Measure L was revised down from $1.5 million per year to $1.3 million due to slower sales transactions.
The Oversight Committee was put in place to assure the voters that the funds were going to be used as promised but what authority do they have, if any? The Ridgecrest Newspaper Editorial Board writes:
“We passed Measure L primarily as a way to save our police officers and help fund streets projects. The council formed a committee to oversee how those funds were being spent — because there were promises made to the community.”
The Oversight Committee have been charged with consuming staff time and evolving into council “watchdogs” which the city attorney is objecting to. The editorial continues:
“The committee’s role needed to be defined — as defined by the ordinance and defined by state law — and that role needs to be adhered to, nothing more, nothing less.”
The editorial is very straightforward to the city attorney:
“When he sits down with the Measure L Committee, he needs to stand firm again and say it bluntly: Follow the law or get out. The committee has a singular focus and a singular mission and that’s it.”
Ridgecrest Editorial link
Earlier, the Oversight Committee requested and received ten years of the budget to set up a “baseline” for the new funds. They were told originally they would be starting off with a zero balance and existing funds were swept away to cover other expenditures. link
January 30, 2013-Measure L Committee tables staff time issue citing need for more information: link
Margo Sturges Author link