Following up on a promise made to voters, Half Moon Bay leaders appointed a public oversight committee last week to review how they spend money collected under a new sales-tax increase.
The tax measure, set to take effect next month, is expected to raise $3 million, and council members want that money to repave streets, jump-start local commerce and fix up aging infrastructure. In a staff report, the city indicated the oversight committee would ensure that the money is used “efficiently and effectively.”
Each council member appointed one person on the panel, including local residents Eddie Andreini Jr., Jacquelynn Maxon, Marcia Reilly, Sean Rollings and Andre Turenne. The group is set to meet at least once a year to pore over project expenses and reports for all projects benefiting from the extra tax revenue.
California cities are under no obligation to create oversight committees for tax surcharges, but many local governments choose to do so as a gesture of accountability. The idea is modeled after the Proposition 39 guidelines for California school districts that pass bond measures. Those districts are required to appoint oversight committees with members who represent different community groups and who do not have a personal conflict of interest. State education code also states that oversight committees be given privileged access to public documents in order to ensure the money is properly spent.
But cities or counties that pass tax increases have no similar state requirements, according to the state Board of Equalization. Instead, the city’s oversight committee would be responsible for following the rules set in the Measure J language, which only requires the committee to “publish annual financial audits.”
Some committee members appointed by the city may have other interests at stake in how the city spends the money. Andreini’s family manages two local construction companies that could be tapped for the city’s street repaving or other tax-funded repairs. Reilly sits on the Half Moon Bay recreation committee and is also active with the dog park at Smith Field, where the city intends to spend $500,000 of the Measure J money for improvements.
Council members unanimously approved the oversight committee, praising the members for stepping forward. Councilman John Muller pointed out before the vote that the members were local residents who volunteered for the city time and time again.
“This is a real tribute to our city and our council,” he said. “These names brought forward are amazing (individuals) that want to ensure a good future for these funds.”
The Half Moon Bay City Council met at 7 p.m. on March 5 at the Ted Adcock Community / Senior Center for its regularly scheduled meeting. Mayor Rick Kowalczyk, Councilwomen Naomi Patridge and Marina Fraser and Councilmen Allan Alifano and Muller were in attendance.
During the meeting, the council:
Scheduled: A public meeting to discuss future construction on the Main Street Bridge. City Attorney Tony Condotti explained a third-party consultant will give the city an independent opinion on the bridge’s structural integrity and the recommendation by two other firms that the bridge should be replaced, not repaired.
The bridge meeting is tentatively scheduled for 6 p.m. on Apr. 9 at the city’s Department Operations Center.
Heard: An update on the 2013 Youth Summit from San Mateo County Sheriff’s Lt. Lisa Williams. The event returns to Half Moon Bay featuring a series of seminars on youth health, leadership and responsibility. The keynote speaker this year is Eason Ramson, a former tight end for the 49ers who left the sport after struggling with drug use. Today he helps direct the Bayview Hunters Point YMCA in San Francisco.
The 2013 Youth Summit is scheduled from 1 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on March 19 at Cunha Intermediate School. Sign-up information can be found on the school’s website.