The issue Should San Luis Obispo’s Measure G get voters’ approval?
We write as the three co-chairs of SLO Citizens for Measure G, a broad-based coalition that firmly believes Measure G is in the best interest of all San Luis Obispo residents.
Measure G is on the Nov. 4 ballot and seeks to renew a half-percent sales tax that SLO voters overwhelmingly approved eight years ago as Measure Y.
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Our coalition represents a diverse group of community activists, environmentalists, nonprofit representatives, agriculturalists, small-business owners, former elected leaders and others. Here are several reasons we enthusiastically support Measure G:
G is a renewal; it’s not a tax increase: As noted above, Measure G would continue the revenue that voters overwhelmingly approved eight years ago as Measure Y. Yes on G means the city can continue to invest in capital improvements and improve essential services.
G benefits all residents: This tax provides millions of dollars a year to fund street repairs, flood prevention, open-space preservation, bike paths, downtown safety and many other items that improve the quality of life for all residents.
G is affordable: This half-percent tax equals about $1 a week for the typical SLO resident, yet it generates $6.5 million in revenue to the city of SLO. And all of it stays here to be invested in city services. It’s also a significant portion of the city’s general operating budget, about 12 percent.
G is fair: Nonresidents and tourists — who are large users of virtually all city services — pay nearly 75 percent of the tax while residents pay a little over 25 percent. That indeed is a fair deal for residents.
Our diverse group of supporters was able to come together quickly to support Measure G because we have all seen the benefits of Measure Y’s half-percent sales tax — traffic circulation has been improved, bike lanes expanded, openspace acquired and additional staff is now in place to focus on downtown safety and enforce neighborhood codes that improve life for all residents. Independent audits have verified that this is indeed how the money has been spent. For more details on how the money was spent, please go to www.citizensforg.org/faqs .
We know that some opponents of Measure G are concerned that future tax revenue will be used to pay pension costs. But regardless of whether Measure G passes, the city will still have to deal with pension costs.
In fact, the city has already taken steps to address the pension issue, having recently implemented a two-tiered pension reform. Further, all city employees have agreed to significant concessions in wages and benefits that are saving the city more than $3 million annually.
Some opponents have falsely said the city doesn’t need Measure G because it is sitting on a secret pile of cash reserves. That’s simply wrong on two counts:
First, there’s nothing secret about the city’s cash and investments. That information is publicly available and posted on the city’s website at www.slocity.org/ finance/investment.asp .
Second, while the city does have approximately $87.4 million in pooled investments from all city funds, about $75.4 million of that is set aside for specific projects, such as improving the Los Osos Valley Road interchange and upgrading the city’s sewer and water systems. Money for restricted purposes like these cannot be used for general fund operations or capital improvements.
The remaining $12 million of those pooled investments is the city’s general fund reserve — that is, the city’s rainy-day fund, to be used for emergencies, as in the event of an earthquake or recession. That $12 million rainy-day fund is the minimum required by city policy, and it would be quickly wiped out if Measure G fails.
Measure G also includes additional safeguards to hold the city to an even higher level of accountability by establishing a citizens’ oversight committee to review expenditures and make sure the city addresses its financial issues in a straightforward, transparent manner.
Bottom line: Measure G provides the means for keeping SLO on the right track — a means for continuing to strengthen the quality of life for all residents by investing in capital improvements, open space and parks, and neighborhood wellness.
Keep SLO great. Please vote YES on Measure G.