Opinion » Commentaries

The truth about Measure G

by , and

comment

Combined, the three of us have served San Luis Obispo as mayors and city councilmembers for more than half a century. We haven’t always seen eye to eye on issues, but we are steadfastly united in our support of Measure G.

Authors of last week’s anti-Measure G commentary (“Measure G is just more broken promises,” Oct. 16) presented misleading statements and ignored inconvenient truths. We want to set the record straight.

Context is critical: Measure G would renew the half-percent sales tax that voters approved overwhelmingly as Measure Y in 2006. Nearly 75 percent of the tax is paid by non-residents. It is worth nearly $7 million annually, comprising 12 percent of the General Fund, money that is necessary to keep SLO safe, beautiful, and well maintained.

An important point: Measure G will keep our sales tax rate at the same 8 percent that it is today, a rate equal to or less than that paid by 90 percent of California’s population.

Opponents falsely argue that Measure G is a tax increase. They say the sunset clause meant the tax would end after eight years.

In fact, the point of the sunset clause was to insure accountability by letting voters decide whether the money has been used well. This accountability was discussed countless times and was part of the written documentation the council considered when it voted to put Measure Y on the ballot. For proof, go to
opengov.slocity.org and read the 2006 report to council that discussed the sunset clause as an accountability measure.

Putting Measure G before the voters is a promise kept.

Opponents claim that the spending priorities were set by “pollsters.” Nonsense.

In fact, before the Measure Y vote, two surveys were conducted to determine the community’s priorities. In addition, input came from 46 community group meetings, 13 special sessions with advisory boards, a 27-member citizens’ committee, 550 mailers to civic groups, 1,200 individual responses, a speakers bureau that reached 1,300 residents, and numerous town hall meetings.

When Measure Y passed, we had eight more months of public discussions and budget sessions before priorities were set. These priorities have been formally revisited every two years and have included extensive public input. In addition, the city has made public extensive documentation on how the money was spent, facts that were verified by independent auditors.

Opponents of Measure G made more misleading statements:

• Phantom Opposition: They wrote about a CPA who studied the city’s financial reports and opposed Measure G. In fact, the CPA supports Measure G.

• Misleading Compensation: Opponents use a big number—$100,000—and argue that half the workforce is overpaid. They don’t mention that the salary portion is $70,000 and more than half the workforce consists of police officers, firefighters/paramedics, engineers, planners, and many other specialized positions.

• Apples and Oranges: Opponents complain that the city manager makes more than the governor. First, we all know that the governors’ salaries are deliberately modest. In fact, the city manager’s pay falls well within the range for managers of similar-size cities. See cacities.org/Resources/Open-Government/City-Manager-Compensation-Survey.

• False claims about open space: Opponents complain that not enough money was allocated to open space, even though former open space manager Neil Havlik has refuted their figures and outlined the many great open spaces protected, thanks to Measure Y.

• False conclusions: Opponents say the recession is over and the city has a lot of big-box retailers, so it won’t be harmed by losing the money generated by the sales tax. In fact, the impact of a 12 percent loss would be devastating: It would be 10 times the impact of Costco closing overnight.

We could go on about the opponents’ misleading statements.

Instead, we refer you to the SLO Citizens for Measure G website, citizensforg.org, where you can find abundant reasons to vote yes.

Join us in voting yes on Measure G. Keep SLO great.


Jan Marx is the current mayor of San Luis Obispo and has served on the City Council for 10 years, including four years as mayor. Dave Romero has served the city professionally for more than 50 years including 36 years as director of Public Works and 16 years on the City Council, including eight years as mayor. Allen K. Settle has served more than 30 years as a City Council member, including eight years as mayor.

Send comments to the executive editor at rmiller@newtimesslo.com.

-- Jan Marx - SLO

Add a comment