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Funds for San Luis Obispo arbitration campaign disclosed

Tens of thousands of dollars have been collected by the groups lobbying for and against two ballot measures going before San Luis Obispo voters in August.

The San Luis Obispo Police and Fire Association Political Action Committee and the San Luis Obispo Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility have raised a nearly equal amount of money, but so far opponents of the measures have far outspent the supporters.

The police and fire PAC received a single donation of $27,415 from the city’s fire union to oppose both measures.

The San Luis Obispo City Firefighters Association isn’t required to disclose the specific amount of money from its donors unless it’s more than $100 in a year and it’s in turn given to a PAC, according to the state’s Fair Political Practices Commission, a state agency that enforces the provisions of the Political Reform Act.

Erik Baskin, president of the fire union, said the money came directly from dues and donations of its members.

The majority of that money — $26,405 — was spent on advertisements and pamphlets against Measure B, which would eliminate police and fire unions’ ability to call for a neutral third-party arbiter to choose either the city or union contract proposal if both sides can’t agree during negotiations.

The police and fire PAC also spent $1,350 in opposition of Measure A, which would allow the city to negotiate lower pension benefits for new employees without voter approval.

The largest expenditure by the PAC was a $15,000 check to San Luis Obispo business Public Policy Solutions for television or cable airtime and production costs.

A combined $12,755 was paid to two Sacramento companies, FireStar Productions and Firefighter Print and Design, for television or cable airtime and campaign mailings.

Previously collected funds left the PAC with $1,142 cash on hand as of the most recent filing ending July 17.

Eleven years ago, the public safety unions raised $53,349 during the campaign to get binding arbitration approved by voters.

This time around, the San Luis Obispo Police Officers’ Association has also committed to donating $27,415 to the PAC, said Matt Blackstone, president of the San Luis Obispo Police Officers’ Association.

The committee supporting Measures A and B, the San Luis Obispo Citizens for Fiscal Responsibility, raised $31,922 during the same period, with $2,484 of that in nonmonetary contributions.

In 2000, a committee formed in an effort to give voters the final say over an arbiter’s decision raised $4,559.

This time, donors include a mixture of past and present council members, business owners, developers, chamber members and residents, with donations ranging from $75 to $2,500.

Councilman Andrew Carter, at the forefront of campaign efforts to pass the two measures, gave $500, and Mayor Jan Marx gave $300.

The largest contributors to the committee so far include a $2,500 donation from Tim Williams, owner of Digital West, and $2,000 from retired San Luis Obispo resident Dan Hinz.

The committee had only spent $7,517 through the July 16 filing date, leaving it with $20,389 cash on hand for future campaigning.

The largest expenditure was $3,849 to Opinion Studies, a San Luis Obispo firm specializing in consumer research, for polling. Additional funds were spent on door hangers, campaign mailings and $200 on chamber membership.

Reach AnnMarie Cornejo at 781-7939. Stay updated by following @a_cornejo on Twitter.

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