Letters to the Editor

October 28, 2013

Modestans share views on Measure X sales tax increase (10-29-13)

Regarding the Oct. 20 editorial “Measure X has too many flaws”: In addition to my original concerns about Measure X, you brought up two additional items that the voters and taxpayers should be greatly concerned about.

Measure X ignores some issues

Regarding the Oct. 20 editorial “Measure X has too many flaws” : In addition to my original concerns about Measure X, you brought up two additional items that the voters and taxpayers should be greatly concerned about.

My original question was, and still is, how much underfunded are the pension programs for the city’s safety workers, both police and firefighters? This can be round dollars. Even give me a range.

Now you mention in your latest article on Oct. 20 that both the workers’ compensation fund and the employee benefit funds for the city employees are also underfunded.

These are the programs that are and will continue sucking the budget dry until they are addressed. We cannot make any commitments about adding more badly needed personnel until such time as we address these issues. Otherwise we will be just like the city of Vallejo, which kicks the $3 million can down the road only to see it grow into a $5 million can.

We need a measure that will specifically address these obligations so that we can take the pressure off the city budget planning.



Flier serves no purpose

Can someone please explain the purpose of the Stanislaus Taxpayers Association printing the names and salaries of firefighters and police officers who risk their lives for this community in their Measure X flier? Why not add their bank account number also?

Those numbers are not base salaries; they include many hours of overtime in order to provide the daily staffing needs of the police and fire departments. To print their names in a flier opposing a tax measure serves absolutely no purpose and they could have made their point without doing so.

Measure X is not going to be used for pay raises. It’s to restore the hundreds of jobs that the city has lost due to budget reductions. Quit making this about salaries and pensions. Measure X is about public safety.



Specific tax needed for safety

The politicians are telling the voters to “trust us” when it comes to how tax revenues would be spent if Measure X succeeds. Right, like how we trusted them when they told us how great Village One would be or rubber-stamping uncontrolled development? Not this time!

Vote “no” on Measure X and replace it with a specific tax that must be used to improve public safety.



Committee will help monitor X

Oversight is better than no sight. No sight has led us to the Archway Commons apartments debacle and the courthouse property purchase fiasco among others.

I would urge those who oppose the measure (and their reasons are very valid) to apply for the oversight committee membership. I have already put my name on the list of people to be interviewed if the measure passes. Dave Thomas would make a great member.

A vigorous and vocal committee will go a long way to ensure the money raised will be allocated and spent in as prudent a way possible. Transparency is only as good as the eyes that are looking. Vote for Measure X and then get involved.



Reasons to say no

Two years ago, Oakdale voters passed a general tax advertised, just like Measure X, as if it were a special safety tax. Already there is talk of laying off police officers. Please read your voter pamphlet. Measure X “does not legally restrict the use of tax revenue to any specific purposes.”

We are assured that it’s OK to pass Measure X because it includes a Citizens Oversight Committee. Again, read the voter guide. This committee serves “at the pleasure of” the council that appoints its members.

The annual audit that is supposed to give taxpayers some assurance that the additional $26 million is properly spent only ensures that the dollars are being spent to conform to the “spending priorities adopted by Resolution of the City Council.”

Instead of a well-thought-out safety tax that would require two-thirds voter approval, the council rushed to get something on this November’s ballot. Do you trust that city leaders yet to come will keep the promises made by the present council members?



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