KINGSBURG – If you’re interested in helping Kingsburg’s City Council ensure that Measure E sales tax funds are being spent as they were intended – on police, fire and EMS services/equipment – you may want to sign up for the citizens’ oversight committee.
On Aug. 1, Council approved a resolution to help them select committee members who will keep tabs on the estimated $970,000 that will be generated by Measure E. This 1 percent sales tax was approved by voters in the June 5 election.
Earlier, it was proposed that each Council member would appoint someone from their district. Councilmembers however said they’d rather leave the opportunity open to whoever expressed an interest in serving.
City Councilwoman Staci Smith asked for clarification on the process, in case more people applied than there are seats available. There will be five seats and each member will serve for a term of four years. Mayor Michelle Roman will choose the committee’s chair and vice chair, subject to majority approval of the Council. The committee will follow Robert’s Rules of Order and is subject to the Brown Act in regards to posting its notices and actions.
“Say for example, 10 applicants apply and what if we have a majority vote on more than five? We’ll just have to work our way down?”
City Attorney Mike Noland said in that case, the council would need to, by a majority vote, narrow the list of appointees down to five committee members.
Roman said criteria will be established that council will use in making final decision, such as a person’s experience with public safety or finance matters.
“It’ll be whatever we want the criteria to be that might help narrow it down a little more, too,” she said. The criteria have not yet been decided as committee members will not be chosen until after the Nov. 6 elections.
The resolution was unanimously adopted.
Council also approved making amendments to the upcoming year’s budget to give the Police Department $408,515 and the Fire Department $774,359 from Measure E and general funds now. The adjustment from Measure E is $651,033 and $550,000 from the general fund. This allows the departments to provide additional staffing, training and equipment immediately.
In making these amendments, Council also looked at the five-year spending plans for both departments. These will be reviewed each year.
Among the goals that Police Chief Neil Dadian outlined in his five-year Measure E funds plan are:
- Goals: Maximize field coverage with a target goal of three officers in the field at all times and two detectives. Enhance frontline service with one additional police services technician. Emphasize full-time property/evidence staffing and one full time records, phone and lobby staffing. Upgrade technology and frontline equipment. Discontinue practice of purchasing runout vehicles. Complete purchase of new police vehicles for all officers with a vehicle relief factor. Establish a fleet-replacement plan.
- Personnel: Add one police services technician at mid-point in first year. Add six police officers.
- Equipment: Replace old vehicle and desktop computers with one tablet. Upgrade desktop computers, Add monitors, computer technology to briefing and training rooms. Provide additional, non-POST reimbursed training. Purchase adequate rain gear. Replace aging Tasers, Return military rifles and purchase new rifles.
Fire Chief Tim Ray outlined his Measure E five-year plan as including:
- Goals: Maximize field coverage with both fire and ambulance. Proposed is for 4/0 staffing by Jan. 1, 2019. Maximize ambulance service by having one reserve on duty so two ambulances can be staffed. A goal is to have 5/0 staffing so two ambulances could always be staffed and fire coverage could still be provided. Purchase a new engine, 1,500 gallons per minute pumper to replace the aging 1986 engine.
- Personnel: Add three full-time firefighters/EMTs by Jan. 1 and a departmental secretary to assist chief in clerical tasks and serve as a lobby point of contact for citizens.
- Equipment: Equip new engine and replace aging equipment on back-up and reserve engines. Upgrade portable and vehicle radios. Provide additional training and purchase station wear jackets for full-time personnel.
Measure E expenses will be reviewed by the committee before funds are spent; however final approval still rests with the City Council. The Measure E Committee will also issue an annual public report of expenses for each year of the tax’s existence. Measure E has a 10-year sunset clause and would end after a decade if it is not renewed.
Council also approved a new ambulance billing arrangement with Sharp Ambulance Billing. Previously, Novato Fire Protection District had agreed to provide billing services, however their policy changed to no longer provide external billing services. Seven companies were considered and City Manager Alex Henderson, Fire Chief Tim Ray and Finance Director Alma Colado reviewed those using a matrix to find a new provider. Sharp was chosen based on their experience, software compatibility, ability to provide timely reports and proven performance record.