Lodi staff start process to se­lect Mea­sure L over­sight com­mit­tee

Lodi News-Sentinel - - LOCAL/NATION - By John Bays NEWS-SEN­TINEL STAFF WRITER

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.

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