Antioch Council hears more complaints about use of Measure C funds, Cantando reports city at 91 officers

City staff says 100% is going to police, code enforcement, but funds being transferred out to administration, other departments under city’s Cost Allocation Plan

By Allen Payton

At their meeting on Tuesday, May 10th, the Antioch City Council once again heard complaints from residents, including a former Oversight Committee member, about the use of Measure C’s half-cent sales tax money, after hearing a report from Police Chief Allan Cantando that violent crime is down over last year, but that police staffing was at only 91 sworn officers.

In addition, the Council voted unanimously to contribute $20,000 to the annual July 4th celebration.

Police Chief’s Report – APD 1st Qtr 2016 Crime Stats Report

As previously reported, Cantando shared that Part I crimes – the violent crimes reported to the FBI – have decreased by 9.7% in the first quarter of 2016 over the first quarter of 2015. He then shared statistics on police hiring.

“We are now at 91 officers,” Cantando stated. “We lost one officer after the latest shooting of an officer. Not the one who was shot. But he realized how dangerous this job was.”

He then reported that the department had hired 36 officers, had 15 Retirements, seven resignations and five separations.

“Other departments in our county are having a much more difficult time in hiring, than we are,” he added.

Response times for Part I crimes have decreased from 10 minutes 36 seconds in 2014 to 10 minutes, two seconds in 2016.

“With the response times going up and down, can you elaborate a little bit more?,” Councilwoman Monica Wilson asked.

Cantando responded “When we were in 2008 our response time…was seven minutes, five seconds. That’s when we had the most officers on the street.”

“On the response times, do you have a goal in mind,” asked Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock.

“I’d love the response times to be in the sevens,” he stated. “There are only so many officers available on the street at a time. This is something this city will have to consider. The City of Richmond has 95 more officers than we do. Is 102 enough?”

Cantando also shared about an addition to the parking lot of the Antioch Police Station, for safer online transactions.

“I’m going to give credit to Councilwoman Wilson on this,” he said. “Another city beat us to the punch,” referring to Pittsburg.

He then spoke of “an exchange zone for people who use Craigslist, to use our parking lot to do business.”

“Hopefully, that will be in place in the next few weeks,” Cantando added.

Measure C Report – Measure C Report 051016

City staff provided a report on the use of the City’s Measure C half-cent sales tax, from the Citizens’ Oversight Committee and the council heard complaints about the use of those funds for things other than police and code enforcement, and transparency in reporting. That prompted a discussion among council, staff and the public.

“You’re increasing the citywide administration by 37%, but the police department increased by only 8%,” said former Oversight Committee member Sal Sbranti.

He then reminded the council of the stated purposes of Measure C, to “reduce 9-11 response, increase the number of police officers and improve Code Enforcement.”

“Also blight reduction was added to that,” interjected Mayor Wade Harper.

“Police personnel budget only goes up 14% citywide. That’s bunk,” Sbranti stated.

“It’s outside our purview,” he continued. “You asked us to sit down and make sure the money is going into those three things.”

City Manager Steve Duran responded, speaking of the city’s Cost Allocation Plan, in which each department helps pay for other departments that provide services to it.

“Of course when you got off furloughs and people got their raised, the allocation went up,” he stated. “Selective cherry picking of numbers to make it look as if something’s gone awry…we’re not going to let people do that.”

Resident David Redford complained about the lack of transparency.

“Each of you has expressed a strong focus…more transparency, more accuracy, more definition in reporting,” he stated. “Nowhere in his report does it show 10 officers increase in the police force.”

Redford then mentioned “a new initiative will be filed” that will include a “penalty clause” and moving the Measure C funds “into a trust.”

In response, Duran said “The net number is the right number to put out there. You start with a base of 82 (sworn officers).”

Ogorchock asked staff, “If 82 is our base line, then 10 officers…can’t we show that these are Measure C funds and spending htem as the council promised?”

City Finance Director Dawn Merchant responded by explaining the amount of funds transferring out of the police department to administration and other departments, under the allocation plan, which the council adopted in 2005.

“Citywide costs to the police department decreased 8%, then 13%” she stated referring to years prior to the passage of Measure C. “Fiscal Year ‘13 it went up 7%. Fiscal Year ’14 it went up 11%. Fiscal Year ’15 it went up 15%. Fiscal Year ’16 it did increase 24%. But that’s for a full year of furloughs.”

Councilwoman Mary Rocha asked “If it doesn’t come out of the cost of police, where would it come out of?”

Merchant replied, “It would cause the City Manager’s budget to increase.”

“You could see other departments minused,” added Rocha.

Duran chimed in.

“Those costs don’t go away,” he stated. “The costs are still there and you still have to pay for them. You funded 102 sworn officers and some more CSO’s. You funded 20 more officers out o that 100% that went to police. Even though you’ve hired 36, you’re at a net 10. This is like debating how many angels can dance on the head of a pin.”

A defiant Duran said, “The bottom line is 100% of the money is going to where it’s supposed to go.”

Sbranti wasn’t satisfied with the responses.

“What stops you from going up to 25% (in the Cost Allocation Plan)?” he asked. “It wasn’t until the second year that I started saying ‘wait’.”

Wilson asked “When the (Oversight) committee was formed, did we explain this is the purview of the committee?”

“The mayor explained to us our role,” Sbranti responded. “How do we determine Measure C monies. Anything above $28.447 million (in the police department budget) is automatically Measure C money.”

Wilson then asked about the formula for cost allocation.

“What is the formula that we use? It’s not the same for each department across the board,” she said.

Merchant explained about the city audit in 2005 and that “it’s not a set formula across the board. It hasn’t been updated since.”

Harper tried to quell the disagreement.

“I hope we all want the same thing, which is a safer community and more police,” he said. “The funds are being intermeshed. We understand it’s not easy to say this bullet was not purchased with Measure C funds.”

Councilman Tony Tiscareno offered his thoughts on the matter.

“It’s not that I’m confused. But I remember voting to have 100% of Measure C funds go to the police department,” he said. “The issue is that we could identify every dollar. It’s my opinion we’re doing what we’re supposed to be doing with Measure C funds.”

Harper called for more transparency and directed his comments to Sbranti and the committee members.

“Hopefully we can be more transparent,” he said. “Hopefully we haven’t acted defensive. Because you did what we asked you to do.”

Public Comments

During public comments earlier in the evening, Gary Kingsbury provided an overview on the proposed Antioch homeless shelter project

Regarding the homeless population, he said “the county went down but Antioch and East Contra Costa County went up 33% to 164 of visible homeless in the city.”

“We need to make this problem as real as possible to people,” Kingsbury added. He then invited people to a meeting of how people can get involved, including “outreach and services, not just the shelter for women and children.”

Resident Fred Rouse who is planning on running for city council in November asked the council to “Please allow some citizens to monitor dispatch calls. There’s still a number of sane minded citizens.” He suggested “a 20-minute delay in broadcasting” and to “certify some citizens to listen. Allow Neighborhood Watch captains to listen” and that they could “only listen to the dispatch side of the calls.”

Rouse also asked that the police department “provide news outlets with the feeds” and “only for major incidents.”

“Breathe some air back into the Neighborhood Watch Program,” he added and then asked for training for people when they call 9-11.”

Another resident for 25 years in southeast Antioch spoke asking for an off-leash dog area in Country Manor Park.

The next meeting of the Antioch City Council will be tomorrow night, May 24 at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at West 2nd and H Streets in downtown. Meetings can be viewed on Comcast local cable access channel 24 or via live stream on the city’s website at

the attachments to this post:

Measure C Report 051016
Measure C Report 051016

One Comment to “Antioch Council hears more complaints about use of Measure C funds, Cantando reports city at 91 officers”

  1. Loretta Sweatt says:

    The perception of Measure C presented to the public was money needed for Police Officer’s salaries, not inter-departmental cost transfers. I believed that Measure C funds would also be used for Officer’s training and equipment. I want the officer’s well paid, highly trained and extremely safe. That is what I thought I was voting for by Measure C. If each department has costs related to the police department, it should be in that department’s budget or specifically explained before that Measure C funds would be used for various departmental administrative costs reimbursable. I can certainly see how citizens feel mislead as well as confused. Administrative costs should not by any means overshadow the Salaries, training or equipment costs; Salaries being the largest expense due to increased payroll from increased number of officers. With gasoline being inexpensive, people can go elsewhere to shop to avoid the increased sales tax if they feel their money is not being spent as they envisioned it and we certainly wouldn’t want that to happen, would we?

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