Lodi staff start process to select Measure L oversight committee
After Measure L, a half-cent sales tax increase, passed in Tuesday’s general election, Lodi city staff are working on the final draft for applications for the five-member citizen’s oversight committee.
“There are additional requirements that at least two members are financial professionals, so we need to beef up our application so we can get information to verify that the candidates have worked in that field,” Deputy City Manager Andrew Keys said on Friday.
Once they have received the applications, Keys said that city staff will review them before bringing candidates before the city council who will approve and appoint the committee members.
“It’s likely that the actual committee won’t be formed until after the new year, probably January or February,” Keys said. “Then, we would schedule the mandatory three meetings that year.”
After the committee has been formed, the members will be educated about their role in ensuring that the roughly $5.4 million per year that Measure L is expected to generate for the city’s $50 million general fund are spent on services such as police, fire, parks and the library, Keys said, as well as the inner workings of government finance.
“The committee’s role is oversight, not planning,” Keys said.
City staff will make recommendations for how to spend the Measure L funds, Keys said, which they will then bring to the city council for approval.
“At the close of each fiscal year, we will present them with an audited findings about how the funds were used,” Keys said.
Local taxpayer advocate and Measure L opponent Alex Aliferis said that he would consider applying for the committee.
“It’s just a matter of will I be chosen,” Aliferis said.
The committee will then review the statements and ensure that the funds were spent properly, Keys said, before submitting their own report to the city.
“We also plan to have a more robust outreach process with our budget this year,” Keys said. “Not just for Measure L, but to give another level of transparency about what these dollars are going to be spent on.”
Had Measure L not passed, city officials projected expenditures would have begun to exceed revenues by fiscal year 2019-20, and by fiscal year 202324 the city could have faced a deficit of $6 million, which would have likely forced the city to either significantly reduce services or go bankrupt.
Although the city is projected to have a budget surplus in the first few fiscal years after Measure L takes effect in April 2019, the city’s spending is predicted to catch up with Measure L revenue by fiscal year 2023-24.
City staff have a number of plans to prevent another potential budget deficit, Keys said, such as paying off their California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) unfunded assessed liabilities (UAL) as a lump sum in June instead of monthly payments and refinancing the UAL with the city’s $11.6 million CalPERS stabilization fund.