Over 78 percent of revenue collected from Measure O has gone toward public safety and all the funds have been spent correctly, according to a presentation by Oakdale City Manager Bryan Whitemyer on Feb. 13 to the members of the city’s oversight committee.
Whitemyer broke down the spending of the funds from when the measure was passed in November 2011 and how much had been collected over the fiscal years.
For the 2012-13 Fiscal Year, the city received $1,548,715 from the sales tax assessment and so far into the 2013-14 Fiscal Year it has received $619,593. For the remaining 2011-12 year, it received $412,393 which was set aside for this year.
Whitemyer explained that throughout the year the city receives electronic transfers from the State Board of Equalization that are deposited into a special Measure O account. The funds in the Measure O account are later transferred into the General Fund.
Using the first full fiscal year of figures of 2012-13, Whitemyer explained the breakdown on where the funds went for the budgets of police, fire, street lighting, senior center, street sweeping, and the community center – the authorized uses for Measure O money.
“Every cent went to approved categories,” Whitemyer said. “Every penny generated was spent for its intended purposes.”
Whitemyer also told the committee members that the city spent $255,000 more than it brought in that fiscal year.
“This is a pattern that can’t be continued,” Whitemyer said.
During his presentation Whitemyer pointed out that certain expenditures may show higher than budgeted for the senior center and community center, but outside funding had covered those expenses because those facilities charge usage fees and collect money for outings.
“Looking at these numbers to where the money has gone, funds have been spent where they were to go,” said Measure O Oversight Committee Chairman Scott Hogg. “There may have been public perception that they haven’t, but they have gone where they were supposed to.”
Committee member Doug Lyman said he had concerns because people who lobbied for the measure had told voters funds would be for police and fire. He also expressed how the measure would be perceived with current efforts of trying to continue the tax.
“People out there were told it was public safety tax to be used for the departments (police and fire) first and foremost,” Lyman said. “By the letter of the law, yes, it was spent appropriately. My concern is moving forward – how to win back the trust of the people who took verbal representation and may not have read the measure?”
Lyman said he, and many others, had the understanding that with the passage of the measure police and fire were to remain whole, yet there were layoffs and positions going unfilled.
The Oversight Committee will continue to meet periodically to review the city’s expenditure of Measure O funds.