Earlier this year when I first became aware of the city of Larkspur’s attempt to extract additional tax dollars through the upcoming ballot Measure B, I was dead set against it. Now, after many months of research and discussions, I’ve changed my mind. I’ll be voting YES on Measure B, but with some apprehension.
First off, it was positioned as an “extension” of Measure C, an existing 1/2 cent sales tax set to expire in early 2019. In fact, it’s not an extension. It’s a new 3/4 cent sales tax that features a “no sunset” clause. In other words, indefinite. Why couldn’t they place a 15, 20 or 25 year sunset clause on the measure and structure financing accordingly? Instead, they try to mitigate the no sunset clause by stating the tax will continue, “until it’s ended by voters.”
Second, if approved, this tax revenue will be directed to the general fund. Technically, the funds can be used in any number of areas, not just road repair. It requires a simple majority to pass versus a special tax which requires a 2/3 majority and is earmarked for specific use (road repair). Was the city of Larkspur concerned a special tax would not generate the needed 2/3 majority vote? Were they more interested in comingling this new revenue with the general fund to use for other purposes?
Third, Measure B (like Measure C) will have a Citizen Oversight Committee. However, in researching the current Measure C Oversight Committee, I was stunned to learn that since Measure C was passed in 2013, there has been ONE Agenda posted on their website (April 2017) with NO minutes, reports or anything from the past several years. That is not “oversight.”
However, the above negative aspects notwithstanding, the quality of our roads in Larkspur has sunk to a level that is no longer tolerable. For whatever the reasons, we now have the worst roads in Marin County (and beyond).
I have concluded that in order for the city of Larkspur to “accelerate” the task of repairing or replacing all of the roads over the next five years at a cost of $25 to $30 million (as proposed), they must have the additional tax revenue to structure appropriate financing to complete the project.
One thing is certain, if this measure passes, it will be our responsibility to follow-up on the type of financing proposed, gaining a clear understanding of the goals and objectives of the Citizen Oversight Committee and providing consistent and constant feedback to our public employees responsible for delivering tangible results to the citizens of Larkspur.