Measure G is NOT an “extension” of Measure Y. Measure Y was a temporary half-cent sales tax placed on the ballot by the San Luis Obispo City Council in 2006 with a promise it would end in March 2015. We were told the additional tax was to augment revenues from other sources, to provide more money for things people had told taxpayer-funded city pollsters they wanted.
But that promised use of extra funds didn’t happen. For the most part, city expenditures in the promised areas didn’t increase—the city just claimed expenditures it would have made otherwise came from Measure Y, and used existing funds for other purposes not mentioned to voters. We call this bait-and-switch “broken promises.”
The same broken promises we heard in 2006 are being repeated for Measure G. That’s because pollsters told the city that saying these things would convince voters to approve G, not because the city’s serious about doing the things promised. How can they trick us this way? At the bottom of the list of promises is the caveat: These funds can be spent for any other purpose the city wishes.
Proponents of G say Y saved the city during the recession, yet the city’s gross revenues not counting revenues from Y never dipped below those of 2006. What did balloon during the housing crisis and ensuing recession was city salaries, which went up 25 percent during just two years—about $6 million per year, which is about the same amount as Y brought in. Could that be where Y’s funds really went?
We note many city employees are paid very well: 160 earn pay plus benefits of $100,000 or more. Our city manager is paid substantially more than Gov. Jerry Brown, and our city attorney receives more than the state attorney general.
In any event, the scare tactics of G’s supporters—that the city will again find itself in recession-like financial straits if G fails—are just nonsense. The city’s general revenues continue to rise significantly each year. The recession is over as far as the city is concerned. There are numerous new large-box retailers generating revenue for the city that didn’t exist in 2006. The city will do financially well without G.
The city promised they’d use Y funds to purchase open space for a greenbelt around the city—because city-paid pollsters said that would make people vote yes. But the city accomplished less on open space acquisition after Y than earlier in the decade, before Y.
We are far from alone in our disappointment at Measure Y’s broken promises. A CPA who served on the city committee charged with recommending whether to place G on the ballot voted no after a thorough financial analysis. His poignant letter to the City Council explaining his misgivings can be read at slomeasureg.com/cpa-letter.pdf.
The Sierra Club lamented broken promises in their September newsletter: “Unfortunately, the highest priority of city residents has not been reflected [with] the expenditure of [only] 3 percent of collected Measure Y funds on open space acquisition and maintenance over the eight years since the sales tax measure was adopted.” The Sierra Club endorsed Measure Y, but because of broken promises is not supporting Measure G.
Make no mistake: Measure G is a new tax increase. We were promised Measure Y was temporary, but it’s clear Measure G proponents really intend the tax to be permanent and will seek “renewal” again in 2022. And it seems they’ll say whatever’s necessary to get our vote.
Please join us in voting NO on G.
For more, visit slomeasureg.com.
Keith Gurnee and Dodie Williams are former SLO City Council members; Dia Hurd is a Local Revenue Measure Advisory Committee member; and Leslie Halls is on the No on G Committee. Send comments to the executive editor at firstname.lastname@example.org
-- Leslie Halls - San Luis Obispo