By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
Tax Measure - Council Declines Funding
Placeholder Image
Not seeing the need to use public money for educational material for the upcoming sales tax measure, the Oakdale City Council on Monday, July 5 declined to fund a $9,500 contract for a private consultant to handle informative services and materials.
A proposal was made for the Lew Edwards Group, a communications, government affairs, and political consulting firm, to provide educational services to the public regarding the proposed half-cent sales tax measure that is slated for the November 2011 ballot.
By law, public funds cannot be used to promote or endorse a measure but may be used to inform or educate the voters.
“Lew is a well-respected attorney,” City Attorney Tom Hallinan said during his report. “Their firm knows the difference between advocacy and educating.”
Sales Tax Ad Hoc Committee Co-Chair Mickey Peabody informed the council that Stanislaus County and the Oak Valley Hospital District have both used similar consultants when presenting measures before voters. She urged the council to show a commitment toward the initiative.
“I’m going to have a tough time asking voters for money if you, the city fathers, won’t step up and take the educational part of it,” Peabody said.
When asked for comment by Mayor Pat Paul, Frank Clark, the other co-chair, told the council that the decision on using a professional to educate the citizens was up to the council.
“You have an obligation to inform them,” Clark said.
Public comment and comments from the council members themselves showed a reluctance to use additional city money for the measure.
“This is the typical baloney that causes people not to like government,” said Councilman Jason Howard, recommending that the matter could be handled in a “grass roots” fashion.
Councilwoman Katherine Morgan suggested that the materials, mailers, and writings could be handled internally and the money could go toward a city employee.
Burchell Hill resident Mike Hancock urged the council not to “throw” more money at the measure, backing that the educating should be done on a grass roots level.
“Don’t be intimidated by this loud group,” said Hancock, as he motioned to Clark and Peabody in the front row.
“Grass roots is easy to say, but hard to do,” Peabody later said, giving a list of things still needing to be done.
Peabody stated she would be calling on those council members for assistance who said they supported the measure.
The writing of the argument to put the ballot on the measure is a concern of the committee, noting that a “grass roots” organization does not have the experience and ability as a seasoned consultant.
Without support from anyone on the council, the measure was not brought up for a vote.
“It’s a setback,” said Clark after the meeting. “It would have been nice to have them (the council) support us. The city’s needs are still the same and Mickey and I are still going to be out working hard for this.”
With several cuts over the years to city services, including police, fire, street sweeping and lighting, the city moved last month to put a half-cent sales tax initiative on the November 2011 ballot. With the statewide 1 percent sales tax reduction that occurred July 1, the half-cent measure would raise the current sales tax from 7.375 percent to 7.875 percent. If passed, the temporary sales tax could bring over $1.2 million to city coffers.