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Question: What is happening with Santa Barbara’s Measure C money?
— Santa Barbara resident Jay Smith
In November 2017, city voters approved the 1-percent sales tax increase, Measure C, which increased the rate to 8.75 percent as of April 1.
Measure C does not have a sunset clause, meaning it will be in effect in perpetuity unless it is repealed by voters through a ballot initiative.
In the proposed budget for the 2018-19 year, which begins July 1, the city estimates Measure C will bring in $21.9 million in revenues for infrastructure projects.
“All revenues received will be transferred into the Measure C Capital Fund where the use of the funds will be accounted for,” the budget summary says.
The city’s plan for spending that money is broken down by project, with expenditures planned for street maintenance, facilities maintenance, “preliminary work” for replacing the police station at 215 E. Figueroa St., renovating the Louise Lowry Davis Center, and more.
Spending recommendations will be made at the staff level during the budget development process, like other revenues, said Bob Samario, city finance director. The City Council makes final decisions, as it will this year by adopting a budget in June.
Measure C spending will be guided by the council-approved resolution and ordinance that named funding priorities, Samario said.
Santa Barbara is required to create a Citizens Oversight Committee for Measure C spending, and the City Council will appoint seven members to the group on June 26.
Committee members have no advisory role in how the Measure C revenues should be spent, Samario said.
Their role is accountability after the fact – they will review spending reports to determine whether revenues were spent on capital infrastructure as the ordinance says they will be.
“They may not like that some of the money went for this project versus that project, but that’s not for them to say,” Samario said.
The Measure C ordinance that establishes the committee requires it to meet two times per fiscal year, to “receive a report from staff on the status of revenues received and projects funded from Measure C sales taxes” and review the Annual Accountability Report that is developed by county staff at the end of each fiscal year, according to the city.
Candidates for the committee, and other city advisory groups, were scheduled to be interviewed by council members on Tuesday and on June 12.
Twelve applicants applied for the seven spots with four-year terms, according to the city.
They are: Jim Byrne, Steve Epstein, Ted Tedesco, John Thyne III, Susan Lafond, Francis Peters Jr., Sebastian Aldana Jr., Steve Lew, Lesley Wiscomb, Ken Oplinger (president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce of the Santa Barbara Region), Elizabeth “Lizzie” Rodriguez, and Jim Armstrong (former Santa Barbara city administrator).
Measure C capital spending for the 2018-19 year will be presented during the June 4 special budget work session at City Hall, 735 Anacapa St.
The full schedule for City Council budget review meetings can be found online here.
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