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With Political Leaders Lined Up on Both Sides, Infrastructure Ballot Arguments Under Public Review

If approved by voters in June, the Measure M facilities ordinance would require Santa Barbara County to maintain all county-owned roads, parks and buildings in the same or better condition than existed when the initiative passed.

The measure has been cleared for the June 3 ballot, but the specific language of the ordinance and its arguments are under public review until Thursday.

If someone proves any of the material is false, misleading or inconsistent with state Elections Code requirements, an injunction can be issued to amend or delete portions of the documents, according to the county Elections Office.

Measure M was pitched by Fourth District Supervisor Peter Adam, whose staff gathered all the signatures necessary to get it on the ballot.

The Board of Supervisors narrowly voted to put the initiative on the ballot, but two supervisors — Salud Carbajal of the First District and Doreen Farr of the Third District — wrote the arguments against the ordinance. Many other elected officials and community leaders are taking sides, as evidenced by the ballot arguments.

In election documents, County Counsel Mike Ghizzoni said the measure may not be enforceable if it impairs the Board of Supervisors’ ability to fund all of its state-mandated programs in addition to the maintenance levels. The initiative doesn’t address what to do if there isn’t enough money to pay for everything everything, he wrote.

County Auditor-Controller Bob Geis wrote a fiscal impact statement on the measure with similar sentiments, asserting that there would have to be a “major allocation” of county spending to comply with the ordinance. He estimated that another $18 million to $21 million per year is needed to keep everything in the same or better shape.

The Board of Supervisors itself is split on the measure, with Adam writing the argument in favor and Carbajal and Farr writing the argument against it.

In the argument in favor of Measure M, Adam and other supporters write that “the small fixes that cost a dollar today will become more expensive the more we delay.”

It’s not a tax or additional debt, but adjusts spending priorities, say Adam, Solvang Mayor Jim Richardson and former Supervisors Willy Chamberlin and Tom Urbanske.

“The problem is not a lack of money,” they argue. “The problem is misplaced priorities. This ballot initiative will restore our priorities to what you, the voters, always expected.”

In the rebuttal, opponents say the measure “would adjust spending priorities in a way that would cripple law enforcement and other essential services.”

The county wouldn’t be able to cover the proposed maintenance costs without cutting other services, they argue. The rebuttal argument was written by Sheriff Bill Brown, District Attorney Joyce Dudley, Santa Barbara Unified School District trustee Monique Límon, Goleta Mayor Michael Bennett and Carpinteria Mayor Brad Stein.

The argument against Measure M, urging voters to reject the measure and find another way to fund ongoing maintenance, was written by Carbajal, Farr, former Supervisors Joe Centeno and Joni Gray, and retired county Chief Probation Officer Patti Stewart.

Supporters wrote the rebuttal to the anti-measure argument, saying the maintenance backlog will keep growing if the county does nothing.

“Gutting essential public safety programs has no political support,” the ordinance supporters write. “Instead, our supervisors, with input from staff, will have to do the hard work of combing through the $844 million budget to make the 2.8-percent adjustment that will keep your infrastructure from deteriorating any further.”

The rebuttal was written by Santa Barbara City Councilman Dale Francisco, former Carpinteria City Councilman Gregory Gandrud, Montecito Association past president David Kent, Carpinteria flower grower June B. Van Wingerden and Buellton Chamber of Commerce member Kathy Vreeland.

Click here for more information about the June 3 election or Measure M documents.

Noozhawk staff writer Giana Magnoli can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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