Business involvement needed in Measure Y committee
San Luis Obispo officials are putting together a volunteer committee to seek input on the renewal of the city’s half-cent sales tax, and it’s critical that a strong local business perspective and thorough understanding of the community be engaged throughout the process.
The Local Revenue Measure Advisory Committee will study and develop recommendations regarding the reauthorization of the half-cent sales tax, currently known as Measure Y. The application period opens Friday, July 19 and will close on August 16. Applications will be available online beginning July 19 at www.slocity.org.
The committee will gather community input on spending priorities, analyze the stewardship of Measure Y resources, collect feedback and develop recommendations regarding possible alternatives for reauthorization of the measure.
“We hope to see local business people applying for the advisory committee in order to actively participate in the decision-making process,” said SLO Chamber Director of Governmental Affairs Charlene Rosales. “The importance of having a strong voice from the business community on this committee cannot be understated.”
Applicants must be residents of the city. Residents that currently serve on a city advisory body will be eligible to serve on this committee. It is expected to have about nine members, though it is at the Council’s discretion to establish the final committee size based on the applicant pool. Committee members will be selected publicly at the Sept. 3 City Council meeting.
The committee has a preliminary schedule of seven open meetings and two public workshops to provide community members with numerous opportunities to give feedback and input as well as to cultivate an open discussion on the value that the tax measure brings to the city. The first meeting is set for Sept. 12, with the final meeting scheduled for April 16, 2014, according to the preliminary meeting schedule.
Voters approved the sales tax increase in November 2006 in order to help further the funding for identified community priorities, including public safety, senior services, open space acquisition and neighborhood street paving and code enforcement programs, among other improvements. The Chamber was part of a broad stakeholder group that helped ensure the passage of Measure Y.
The citywide tax will sunset in March 2015 if not reauthorized by voters at a general election.
Measure Y generated $6.2 million in 2011-12. For 2013-15, Measure Y is expected to generate more than $6.5 million annually.
“A local revenue measure, such as Measure Y, is a powerful tool for accomplishing local priorities,” San Luis Obispo Assistant City Manager Michael Codron said. “Measure Y dollars are used to keep police officers on our streets, train our firefighters, pave our streets, clean our storm drains and enhance our city’s greenbelt among many other priorities.”
Through the advisory committee, the City is hoping to develop a clear understanding of the community’s views on how money generated by the measure is budgeted, appropriated and accounted for. At the July 16 meeting, City Council members voted 4-1 to approve the formation of the committee, $30,000 to hire the firm of Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz and Associates (FM3) to conduct a resident survey and an additional $10,000 to hire an outside facilitator to manage the committee meetings and public workshops.
Council member John Ashbaugh said the formation of the committee should, “in every way possible, instill confidence in our tax payers and rate payers”.
Mayor Jan Marx said that this process “will give us a chance to really educate the public and ourselves” as to what the alternatives for a future revenue generating measure would be.
The committee will also be asked to develop realistic and feasible alternatives regarding the measure’s reauthorization and to prepare a final report with recommendations to be delivered to the City Council by April 2014.
As part of the 2013-15 Financial Plan, the council adopted sustaining essential services, infrastructure, and fiscal health as a major city goal. The committee is part of the work program to achieve that goal.
Separately, the Chamber Board intends to form its own internal taskforce to study the issues, gather member input and advocate for Chamber positions.