San Luis Obispo drafts plans for new sales tax bounty



Expecting more than $11 million in new sales tax money over the next two years, San Luis Obispo city officials are looking at spending the influx on the Bob Jones bicycle trail, new police and fire staff, street improvements, and flood control.

Those are among the city's major goals outlined in an 80-page report prepared by city staff and shaped by the City Council in a meeting on April 10.

The priorities in the revised report closely parallel earlier staff recommendations, as well as goals that were stated when the city sought the new money from voters.

But council members did suggest some diversions from an earlier staff report, including the expansion of a parking lot at the seniors center near Mitchell Park in downtown San Luis Obispo.

City Administrative Officer Ken Hampian said the new money, from the voter-approved half-percent sales tax increase that took effect this month, will go toward restoring services and programs cut in recent budgets.

The projected new money represents a roughly 10 percent increase in the city's general fund.

"If your personal income increases by 10 percent, your quality of life improves, but it doesn't send you into a new class of living," Hampian said.

In fact, he said the current budget process with more hands seeking money from the city's general fund is likely to be even more contentious than past ones.

"But that's a good problem to have," he noted.

According to the report, the city's 12 major goals are: public safety service levels neighborhood paving and deferred street maintenance traffic congestion relief bicycle improvements flood protection senior citizen facilities roller hockey and skate park improvements homeless services affordable housing neighborhood wellness downtown improvements and open space preservation.

A draft budget is set to be released May 17. A final budget won't be completed until June.

Among the recommendations:

$1.1 million over two years for additional police patrol and support staff. The report notes that, with 1.3 officers per 1,000 residents, city police department staffing of sworn officers is well below national and regional averages (see more on this on page 8) Pismo Beach has a staffing level more than twice that of San Luis Obispo's. The report notes, however, that because of the success of San Luis Obispo leaders in quashing Mardi Gras celebrations, more than $200,000 that had been budgeted toward police efforts over the next two years will return to the budget for other uses.

Roughly $4.9 million over two years to pave and rehabilitate Los Osos Valley Road, neighborhood streets, and roads downtown.

Roughly $3 million over two years for a variety of street improvements, including additional work on Los Osos Valley Road and widening of Orcutt Road, Santa Barbara Street, and Tank Farm Road.

$220,000 to construct bridges along the Bob Jones trail connecting San Luis Obispo to Avila Beach. Additional money will go to other bike trail improvements.

$365,000 to study and make repairs to the roller hockey rink and skate park in Santa Rosa Park.

More than $3.4 million for flood control efforts.

$550,000 to restore funding to the city's open space fund. Much of it will be used to purchase greenbelt land.


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