Measure A Didn’t Pay for New City Hall

by | Oct 8, 2018 | Government, News, Politics | 0 comments

While funds from Measure A have contributed somewhat to the purchase of Stockton’s new City Hall, officials say the revenue from the 2013 ballot measure was not directly involved with the transaction.

Approved by voters on Nov. 5, 2013, Measure A is a three-quarter-cent sales tax to be used to pay for the city’s law enforcement and crime prevention, as well as services to residents, businesses and property owners.

The tax went into effect on April 1, 2014, and is has generated about $28 million each year.

Matt Paulin, the city of Stockton’s chief financial officer, said Measure A is a general fund tax, which means that revenue could be used for “any legal municipal purpose.”

Approved on the same ballot in 2013 was Measure B, which laid out how the revenue from Measure A would be spent.

According to the Measure B ballot language, 65 percent of the Measure A revenue would be used to pay for law enforcement and crime prevention, while the remaining 35 percent would be used to end the city’s bankruptcy.

In addition, the remaining 35 percent would also be used for services to residents, businesses and property owners, the ballot language states.

“Any time we have general fund money left over at the end of the fiscal year, the council has a policy to dictate where those funds go,” Paulin said. “Measure A played a similar part in helping us build up our reserves.”

Paulin said when and if there are any funds left over from the 65 percent earmarked for law enforcement or crime prevention at the end of the fiscal year, they are placed in the city’s general fund reserves, along with other leftover revenues.

Some of those general fund reserves remain in a cash reserve for future budgets, while some are allocated to “known contingencies,” or expenditures for which city staff needs to start saving money, he said. The city had about $44.3 million in known contingency reserves in fiscal year 2017-18.

One known contingency was the city’s need for a new City Hall, Paulin said. Earlier this year, the city closed escrow on the $13.1 million purchase of the Waterfront Towers, which will serve as the next City Hall.

Ned Leiba, a local certified public accountant and city finance watchdog, isn’t buying Paulin’s explanation.

“If what the CFO says is true, show us the accounting of the Measure A funds, all the $125 million funds collected, and let’s see where the funds were spent,” Leiba said in an email Tuesday.

According to the independent accounting reports prepared by Eadie + Payne, LLP, Measure A generated $30 million in fiscal year 2016-17, with 61 percent of the funds, or $18.3 million, used for law enforcement and crime prevention purposes.

A little more than $380,000 was used for “Mission Critical Projects,” like internet technology projects, street resurfacing and buildout of the fourth floor of the Stewart Eberhardt Building, among others. According to the report, $11.4 million in leftover revenue was transferred to the general fund reserves.

In fiscal year 2015-16, Measure A generated nearly $29.3 million, with 44 percent, or $12.9 million, spent on police and crime prevention. More than $5 million was spent on “Mission Critical Projects,” and nearly $10.4 million in leftover revenue was allocated to the general fund.

In fiscal year 2014-15, the measure generated $27.8 million, with $5.1 million spent on police and crime prevention and $7.8 million spent on mission critical projects. Another $14.7 million in leftover revenue went to the general fund, according to the independent report.

All documents related to Measures A and B, and the use of funds, can be found by going to tinyurl.com/measureafunds.

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