Watchdog: Sign Harper’s recall petition, police staffing still too low

Watchdog-LogoBy Barbara Zivica

It’s April – time for spring cleaning. Start by signing the recall Mayor Wade Harper petition. We’ll deal with the rest of council later when they’re up for re-election. Please, folks stop re-electing the same people over and over. It’s obvious conditions in Antioch haven’t improved under their watch.

When Measure C, the seven-year, half-cent sales tax measure passed in 2013, the official ballot stated the measure was “to fund all essential city services, including increased police staffing to reduce crime and gang activities and improve 911 emergency response time; restored code enforcement to clean up blighted properties; and local economic development and job creation.”

At that time the police department was stating they had 87 full-time sworn police officers, only 75 who were at full duty capacity, although they were authorized for 102 officers.

In 2014, Measure O, a business license tax which updated the existing business license tax to include a residential landlord business license tax, was passed. Again the sales pitch was to increase police staffing levels.

However, a recent report from the Sales Tax Citizens Oversight Committee, appointed to oversee disbursements of Measure C funds, states that at present Antioch has 87 sworn police officers and one per diem Police Captain, five more officers than Antioch had in 2013, based on information given to the committee.

Huh? True the city may have hired five new officers but, as the report states, attrition has been happening almost as fast as hiring, We’re back to the same number of officers we started with in 2013.

As for Measure C fund accounting, it appears the City is using Measure C money to pay for police pay raises and promotion costs. The city’s General Fund should be paying not only for the 87 police officers and their raises but for the 102 officers authorized for hire at that time. Measure C money should only be paying for the 103rd officer hired and so on.

As for the funds generated by passage of Measure O, the money, like the money generated by Measure C, technically goes into the General Fund and can be used for any legitimate governmental purpose. The reason the city never put a dedicated police tax measure on the ballot is because it would require 2/3 voter approval to pass rather than a 50% plus one vote. Only 11,175 residents voted in regard to Measure C and 10,236 in regard to Measure O (5,208 voting yes and 5,028 voting no).

Incidentally, the council just passed a resolution to use General Fund reserves to fund an expenditure of $1,827,000 to purchase, install, program, maintain and train on hardware, software and radio equipment in order to become a participating agency in the East Bay Regional Communications System Authority. The expenditure was not included in the approved LFY 2014-15 budget.

4 Comments to “Watchdog: Sign Harper’s recall petition, police staffing still too low”

  1. Mary Fletcher says:

    Enough Is Enough……….It is definitely time for some Spring Cleaning. Let’s start by getting out to Williamson Ranch Park on Lone Tree this weekend April 18 & 19th to sign the petition to RECALL MAYOR WADE HARPER. Hours are 10 am – 4 pm.

  2. Rich says:

    I still feel strongly that the council & city withholding the receipt of tax payments for April, June and October 2014 and the excessive amounts until AFTER Measure O was voted on and passed was not short of fraud. They knew darn well that if they revealed that they were sitting on millions instead of claiming until the last days that the city was in dire straights, Measure O would probably have not passed. Had they admitted that, the city could have been brought back to full service in May, 2014 instead of 9 months later in January, 2015. That is nothing other than sheer deceit and malfeasance and probably collusion. There should be a grand jury convened over that!!

  3. Rich says:

    With regard to Measure O, they still maintained the following:
    Q: Why did the City Council put Measure O on the ballot?
    A: In 2013 the City Council declared a Fiscal Emergency, and, although Measure C was successful, the City’s approved budget still has projected budget deficits of over $3,000,000 per year starting in FY 2016/17. The City Council felt that City services have already been
    cut to unacceptable levels and, given the temporary nature of Measure C funding and the projected multi-million dollar deficits, that having residential landlords pay a per unit Business License Tax was the best alternative to stabilize the City’s finances.
    The purpose of Measure O is to provide General Fund revenue to help eliminate the projected structural deficits and improve essential community services such as:
    • Reopening City Hall, the Public Works office, and the Police Department lobby five (5) days a week.
    • Further enhancing Police, Code Enforcement and blight elimination activities, such as graffiti and dumping abatement.
    • Reinvesting in infrastructure and maintenance, such as streets, landscaping and buildings to improve the appearance of the community and increase property values.
    Q: Can the City provide a full range of services without additional revenue?
    A: No. Without additional revenue the City will be deficit spending by fiscal year 2015/16. This will require further cuts in expenditures, necessitating staffing reductions in General Fund departments, including the Police Department.

    Given the fact that the excess tax payments far exceeded the $800,000+ and could have been initiated in May, 2014, the city could have gone full service, etc. Their claim that it could not be done without Measure O passing, etc. It was pure lies. Instead, the citizens of Antioch had to endure an additional 9 months of sub-service and more lies.

  4. Nancy Fernandez says:

    Rich: If you want to know about Measure O I suggest you talk to some of the original writers of Measure O. We wanted Measure O to get these landlords who are reluctant to take care of business to pay their fair share of the police expenses and other infrastructure expenses tax payers are burdened with. It was time they pay their way. Now once the city took over Measure O it was changed some but ultimately it was the right thing to do to get certain peoples attention. And that was done because they spent over $200,000 to defeat it. We spent $12,000 to win.

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