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Councilman Gomez proposes Measure E spending plan

City Hall

Councilman Victor Gomez is the latest city official to broach a spending plan in the event voters pass the Measure E sales tax extension.

Gomez’s plan released last week provides a percentage breakdown for how he would prefer spending the money, estimated at $3.2 million annually from the 1 percent sales tax, first approved by voters in late 2007.

Gomez followed Councilman Ray Friend, along with mayoral candidate Marty Richman, in providing a plan of sorts that would alter the current funding structure in the city, which has a $14 million general fund.

Gomez’s plan includes spending 60 percent ($1.92 million) on public safety; 10 percent ($320,000) on reserves; 18.5 percent ($590,000) on economic development; 8.5 percent ($270,000) on infrastructure such as roads; and $100,000 on recreation.

Gomez, who was not a council member when the city approved more than $500,000 in raises after the previous Measure T approval in 2007, said he is not in favor of putting 100 percent of the tax funds toward personnel costs because “that’s harder to wean yourself from.”

He was referring to the city’s inability to wean itself from the Measure T tax that brings the local levy to 8.25 percent.

As for the specifics, Gomez said he believes economic development and road improvements can “go hand in hand.” He wants to get some overlay projects done and wants to use the economic development portion toward the west-side improvement project and the downtown master plan, both approved in recent years, but both lacking necessary funds to move ahead.

“Enhancing the west side area and making it more attractive for business is going to be crucial,” he said.

He noted that the downtown plan was OK’d about four years ago.

“That’s something we need to look into,” he said. “The funding’s not very deep, but at the same time we’re pointing the economic development in the right direction.”

As for recreation, he said he believes he can work with the recreation department toward helping it find funding within the five-year period.

Gomez said if three of five council members share similar priorities for change, they can work with one another.

Councilwoman Pauline Valdivia, for one, said she didn’t want to express sentiments about particular plans but indicated she would oppose a Measure E spending plan that included layoffs.

“The agency would stay the way it is right now,” she said, of the city with a Measure E approval. “We wouldn’t have to do any reductions or anything.”

Another councilman certain to retain his seat after the fall election, Robert Scattini, said he would not spend any of the money on recreation.

“People should pay if they want to play baseball and stuff,”

He prefers spending it toward areas such as public safety and roads, and he wants to find ways to cut in another area.

“I think we should look at the six-figure pay and start trimming that,” Scattini said.