As promised by the Eureka City Finance Director Paul Rodrigues, the “transparent” information about Measure O spending has been added to the City’s website. Thank you Mr. Rodrigues. It’s a little later than originally promised in 2010, but we are very happy to get the information about where the sales tax money from Eureka is being spent. You told us that it was being spent predominantly on public safety. Sure enough, the report your department put out echoes those statements. You even included pie charts, which show the huge amount of money that has been “allocated to public safety”.
Even more amazing, is that when you get down to the numbers the report clearly states that the Police Department received and USED “37% of all available Tax proceeds”. According to the report the Fire Department received and USED “38% of all available Tax proceeds”. In fact, according to the report, Measure O will have brought in $11.6 million and public safety was allocated $8.7 million. Wow. Wow. Wow. We encourage Examiner readers to look at this report. It can be found at the below link. After getting to the City’s website just go to the bottom of the page and click on the “2014 TUT” link. But please, don’t stop there. We didn’t.
With these seemingly amazing revelations about Measure O expenditures, we almost did a double take. It just didn’t sit right. So we went pouring through the City’s budget reports that are a available online. It turns out that in the budget documents there is a portion entitled “Section F-Expenditures By Fund”. This report is put out by the Finance Department, so it should verify that Police and Fire were allocated these millions of dollars of funds, and show that those funds were spent, right? Wrong.
According to this document Police and Fire spent $1,373,655 in Measure O funds for the 2011/12 FY. In the same year, under the heading “Community Development”, $2,052,714 was spent on “OTHER FINANCING USES”. For 2012/13, Police and Fire are estimated to have used $505,456. “OTHER FINANCING USES” estimated spending was $3,416,544. For the adopted budget of 2013/14 Police and Fire were allotted $427,129 while those “OTHER FINANCING USES” were allotted $3,562,873. Check our numbers by going to Section F on the following link:
Actually, even more amazing is the reporting by each department. The Police Department budget report reads that they are only allotted $77,164 this budget year. The Fire Department budget report doesn’t even give a figure of what they’re allotted.
Examiner staff aren’t accountants, obviously. But it seems that something strange is going on with the way this money is being handled. We’re sure that Mr. Rodrigues will again have some way of excusing what seems to be either blatant mismanagement of this tax fund, or incompetent reporting processes. The question remains, has Measure O lived up to the promises of transparency and funding of public safety? Or is this money a slush fund for infrastructure or pet projects?
If it was actually intended for infrastructure, great! The city needs clean water and sewage treatment, good roads, clean parks, etc. But if it was for use in areas like infrastructure for the City, the ballot measure and the City public servants should have been clear, so that voters could decide. The way it was handled, many voters basically had the fear of anarchy on the streets without this tax. Really, it looks like the city just didn’t want to tighten it’s belt or make tough decisions so used public safety and street sweepers as a red herring.