August 2, 2011 > Letter to the editor: How have Measure A funds been spent?
Letter to the editor: How have Measure A funds been spent?
The community of Hayward stepped forward in a big way when it passed Measure A (Utility Users Tax) in May 2009. Numerous people worked extremely hard to educate the community about the City's financial position and the possible cutbacks in services, including necessary public safety reductions if Measure A failed. I was among the many that pursued its passage with passion.
On March 3, 2009, City Council approved a motion to place the measure on the ballot. The motion included a requirement that if voters approved the measure, an annual revenue and expenditure report be provided to the community. This report would serve as an accountability mechanism, critical to ensuring that the community understood how and where Measure A funds were spent. It was intended that the report would be shared with and communicated to the entire community. This required report is in lieu of a public oversight committee in which some members of the public expressed interest at the public hearing.
Unless I have missed something, two years have elapsed without a report to the community regarding the proceeds of Measure A. Sadly, this observation comes on the heels of a recently approved budget that reduces a significant number of sworn police officers in our minimally staffed Hayward Police Department and staffing cuts in our Fire Department, both areas Measure A was intended to protect.
No doubt, economic conditions have continued to deteriorate over the past two years, and perhaps such reductions are a necessary result. However, the lack of communication regarding the impact of Measure A on preserving City services raises questions about how the City's finances are prioritized. Certainly, it raises questions about community support for the possibility of a similar measure when the current utility users tax expires in eight years.
Let's expect from our City the same level of rigor applied during the Measure A campaign in meeting promised accountability of how funds have been spent to protect the services about which we care most. Please let us know where our self-imposed tax dollars are at work.