The City of Eureka is keeping up the push for the Measure O extension, with good reason. If the extension doesn’t pass, the Council will actually have to make some tough budget decisions and “prioritize” spending, as opposed to the recent across the board cuts (surgery with a scalpel as opposed to using a butter knife). On top of that, the County is now trying to pass their version of Measure O, so Eureka has some competition. The folks at City Hall thought no one was paying attention and must have believed that was going to be a sure thing. Now it’s becoming a big question mark.
With Measure O generating $11.6 million and saving 12 to 13 public safety positions over the last four years, Eureka City Manager Greg Sparks said the tax is an important revenue source for the city.
There goes that funny accounting again (or as Leo Sears is known to call it “the shell game”). Since Greg hasn’t been here that long, we will give him the benefit of the doubt and assume that he is just using talking points provided by his staff. We won’t say, at this point, that he’s being purposely misleading (lying). But his statement is blatantly false.
Saving 12-13 positions in Public Safety over the life of Measure O translates to saving 4 positions a year. However, the police department has been short more than twice that amount over the life of Measure O. Dispatch has been down by up to 50% of staffing at times. Unfilled police positions has hovered around 4, and recently has gone up to 7 positions down. On top of that, there were positions such as “POP Coordinator” which were created but never allowed to be filled.
So that’s where we get back to the Cities funny accounting (shell game) and lack of genuine transparency with regards to how the money has been spent. You can’t “save” positions that have never been filled! You can’t claim that X percentage of Measure O has gone to Public Safety because you allocated a certain number of positions. If the positions are intentionally not filled or just not filled because of no qualified applicants, then the money goes back into the general fund and wasn’t spent on Public Safety.
These are positions on paper, that’s all good in the world of accountancy, but try getting one of these “paper positions” to show up on time when, oh let say, your old town jewelry store (with 10 windows) is being burglarized!
The City still hasn’t clearly shown how Measure O funds have been spent, unless you believed the outgoing Finance Directors “just trust us” line of reasoning. The Klowncil hasn’t made any tough or forward thinking decisions which would help cut spending in area’s not essential to the City, which over the life of Measure O could have put millions into a reserve fund. But the City is hoping that won’t matter. As the saying goes, “If you repeat a lie often enough, people will believe it, and you will even come to believe it yourself.”