Santa Paula: Inaugural Tax Measure Oversight Commission Chosen

By Sheryl Hamlin

Taxing History

In 2014, the City Council of Santa Paula approved a ballot measure, Measure F, a one cent sales tax which required monies to be divided into specific percentages for specific beneficiaries. A Specific Tax requires a 2/3 vote to pass. Measure F failed. In 2016, with the financial picture more and more precarious, the City Council approved another ballot measure, Measure T, a one cent sales tax, which specified only general priorities without specifics. This is called a General Tax. Measure T passed because it required only a simple majority, 50% plus one vote.

Oversight Commission Part of Measure

Measure F required independent auditors to report on the monies collected. Measure T went another route by adding the requirement that a Citizens Oversight Commission will be established.

To read the text of the resolution establishing the commission, click here.

Interviews

On March 27 at a Special Meeting, the council interviewed 18 citizens. The meeting was noticed here. The Santa Paula Times (March 31, 2017) published a lengthy print report on the 18 interviews, giving the names as follows: Judy Rice, Andrew Sobel, Rhonda McKaig, Rosemary Chacon, Dennis Shaw, Gary Nasalroad, Earl McPhail, Karen Djernaes, Edd Bond, Delicia Niami, Jose Melgar, Richard Rudman, Gabrielle Muratori, Kristin Majda, Samuel Ponce, Andrian Ponce, Johnny Flores and Connie Tushla.

Taxation must be popular because the City of Ventura had 70 apply for its Oversight Commission, according to the VCSTAR.

Appointees

On April 3, 2017, Mayor Crosswhite announced the five names: Andrew Sobel, Rosemary Chacon, Jose Melgar, Johnny Flores and Kristin Majda.

In making the announcement, the Mayor did not say which slot each new commission filled, nor did she give any biographical information. This information has been requested and will be added upon receipt.

Click on this link to read the descriptions of the five slots, each commissioner represents.

Not Appointed

It was notable that no members of the Measure T Committee or the Measure F Committee were appointed to the new Commission, even though there were several among the 18 interviewees.

What Next?

The description of the committee is purposely vague. During the council meetings, it was clear that Council Member Hernandez viewed this Commission as merely an after-the-fact approval of council actions with little or no budgeting powers.

The number of meetings can be increased by a vote of the committee and probably should be to accommodate changes and requests to the budget over the course of the year and at a minimum to review the quarterly sales tax receipts.

An excellent model of this commission can be studied here: Palm Springs Measure J Oversight Commission. This Commission meets monthly and makes budgetary recommendations. There is a list of Measure J approved projects available too.

During the ‘Future Agenda Items’ Vice Mayor Gherardi moved the council refine the Measure T roles. This was approved.

Recall that during the 2016 Candidate/Election Issues Night, then Council Member Gherardi who was on the pro-Measure T panel, said that a new fund should be added to the accounting system so that Measure T monies could be trackable. Read about this meeting here.

To watch the video of the meeting and download the materials, click here.

For more information about the author, click SherylHamlin dot com.


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