Questions raised by mail out of City of Antioch’s annual report on Measure C revenue and spending

City of Antioch's 2015-2016 Measure C Annual Status Report mailed to all residences, last week.

City of Antioch’s 2015-2016 Measure C Annual Status Report mailed to all residences, last week.

By Allen Payton

Antioch City Manager Steve Duran released the City’s annual report on Measure C to the community last week. It was also mailed to every residence in the City.

In November 2013, Antioch voters passed Measure C, a half cent sales tax that sunsets in 2021. The tax became effective April 2014 and according to the mailer and a press release from Duran, “as of June 30, 2016, the City has received a total of $13,354,674. That’s $1.1 million more than budgeted.”

According to the mailer “that total $12,952,605 has been allocated to the Police Department budget and $402,070 to the Code Enforcement budget. The City Council has allocated 100% of the Measure C (additional 1/2 cent sales tax) revenue to the Police Department and Code Enforcement budgets since its inception and that will continue.”

However, in compliance with the City’s Cost Allocation Plan (CAP) for citywide administration, some of those funds have been transferred out of both departments. When asked about the CAP and how much is being transferred out of both the Police Department and Code Enforcement, Duran responded, “Here’s what I can tell you in a nutshell about how the Cost Allocation Plan works:

  • The 2005 cost allocation plan established the percentage that each department or enterprise would be charged for internal services.
  • That percentage does not change; it is the same every year.
  • The Police are paying the same percentage every year and would be even if measure C never existed.
  • When the costs of internal services went down because of layoffs, furloughs and other cost cutting measures, the percentage stayed the same, but the actual dollars paid for internal services went down. Likewise, when we got off furloughs, hired a few people (still having much fewer than before the cuts) and other costs such as PERS, health benefits and workers comp  went up, the percentage stayed the same, but of course the dollars went up.
  • Internal services includes the departments that provide services to other departments, such as Human Resources, Finance, Information Systems, City Manager, City Attorney, etc.”

Yet, at a Council meeting in May, City Finance Director Dawn Merchant offered information that has caused some confusion over the percentage of funds being transferred out for the CAP. She referred to the elimination of the Friday furloughs, in which city staff took a 10% reduction in pay while giving up 10% of their work time, causing City Hall to be closed on Fridays.

“Citywide costs to the police department decreased 8%, then 13%,” Merchant 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.”

In an email response to questions of how much is spent via the CAP from the PD and Code Enforcement, Merchant responded:

“While Code Enforcement does have a cost allocation charge, none of that is calculated against measure C as Code Enforcement has only specific positions and equipment charged to it,” she wrote. “With the way the PD measure C is done, any expenditures over the $28M base are considered measure C.  So you cannot definitively say the whole amount of the cost allocation plan is charged to measure C as you could just as easily argue it is all for salary, or it paid for ammunition, etc.  The funds aren’t transferred out either, they appear as an expenditure line item in the PD budget for their share of internally allocated costs.  The CAP isn’t spent on specific expenditure line items per se, it is the share of internal costs (the entire budget) of the allocated departments.”

“For 16/17, City Wide Admin (CAP) is 8.1% of the total PD budget of $38,919,082,” Merchant’s email response continued.  “However, it is important to note that the CAP allocation is not based on what the PD budget is doing only what the budgets being allocated are doing as PD gets the same percentage allocation every year.  Here is a breakdown of last year and this year:

15/16 PD Budget = $35,750,788 and of that $3,107,193 was budgeted for City Wide Admin – so budgeted CAP was 8.7% of total PD budget.

15/16 PD Actual = $35,181,262 and of that, $2,767,235 was actual City Wide Admin – so actual CAP allocated was 7.8% of total PD actual.

16/17 PD Budget = $38,919,082 and of that $3,162,307 budgeted for City Wide Admin – so budgeted CAP is 8.1% of PD budget.”

That means of the Measure C funds received by the PD, $560,138 was spent on citywide administration in Fiscal Year 2015/16 and $884,445 is budgeted for Fiscal Year 2016/17.

Thus, the discrepancy continues between the City staff stating 100% of Measure C funds “has been allocated by the City Council to Police and Code Enforcement budgets,” versus what some members of the public, including former Measure C Oversight Committee Member, Sal Sbranti, have been saying. They are looking at the net amount, which is minus the CAP amount that remains in the police department.

In a comment on Facebook in response to the mailer, Sbranti wrote:

“Antioch Citizens, I just read our City Manager’s fabrication of a report on Measure C. In it he states, ‘The Committee provides the Council with an annual report which confirmed in March 2016 that Measure C funds have been properly allocated, expended and accounted for.’ Actually what we said was, ‘Due to the way the City Budgets the Police Department for Measure ‘C’, the Committee has some concerns as to whether all Measure C monies are being properly utilized to meet the objectives of this measure.

The ‘Further Remark’ section of this report identifies these findings. So who did our stellar City Council members, Mary Rocha, Monica Wilson, Tony Tiscareno, Wade Harper (present Mayor), and Lori Orgochock (want to be Mayor) ask to investigate and look into our concerns? Why the City Manager – The Fox is guarding the hen house and he said all of the chickens were there! Amazing! Like having Nixon investigate Watergate!

In the further remarks section we went on to show that the City Wide Administration (CWA) allocated portion of the Police Department Budget went from 6.36%, where it was for a 3 year period, to 7.87% for the first full year of Measure C funds, increasing the CWA allocation by $724,000 over the previous year and this year’s budget has an 8.1% allocation for an additional $400,000. City Wide Admin gets an allocation of the Police Department Budget each year to fund the City Manager’s office, Legal, HR, Maintenance, City Council, etc. Measure C funds according to the commitment given to the citizens of Antioch by our city council is only to be used for the following; Increased Police Force, Reduction of emergency response time, Increased Code Enforcement, Reduction of Blight. In 2013/14 we used $1.8 million for CWA, in 2014/15 we used $2.043 and in 15/16 a huge jump to $2.767 million and the budget for 16/17 is $3.152 million. Our police department has increased by only 15% (82 to 94) while our CWA has increased in dollars by 54% in the last two years alone( over 70% in 3 years) ($2,043,963 to $3,152,307).

I do not blame this on our Police – the budget is approved by the City Council and Made by the City Manager who sends Mailers to all of our citizens with wrong information or outright lies.”

Furthermore, city staff can’t be held responsible for carrying out the Council’s policy, dating back to when the CAP was adopted in 2005. They are following requirements of the CAP, in which they consider the citywide management expenses as part of the police department budget.

The issue of applying the CAP to funds from both Measure C and Measure O, the residential property owners business license fee, was broached during the forum sponsored by the Herald. Three candidates, Dr. Sean Wright, Kenny Turnage and Lamar Thorpe all said they would be willing to waive the application of the CAP on both Measure C and O funds.

According to Duran’s press release, through June 2016, the Measure C funds have allowed the City to enhance Police Services and Code Enforcement as follows:

Police Department

Continuous hiring is ongoing to bring sworn Police staffing to a total of 102, which is fully funded in the City budget. According to both Duran and Police Chief Allan Cantando, the current sworn Police staffing is at 93. Although 41 officers have been hired, 15 have retired and 14 have left for other reasons for a net gain of 11 since November of 2013 when Measure C was passed. our new officers are currently in the hiring process.

However, at the time the measure was placed on the ballot in August, 2013, Antioch had 89 sworn officers on the force. Therefore, there has only been a net gain of five additional police officers. Between August and November, 2013 the number of officers had decreased to 82 sworn. That is the figure the City Council and staff have chosen to use as the baseline, instead.

In the ballot argument in favor of Measure C, Mayor Harper and the Councilmembers that time (all but Mayor Pro Tem Lori Ogorchock) committed to hiring 22 additional officers if the voters passed the measure. Therefore, the actual goal for staffing should be 111 sworn police officers not 102, but that’s the amount that the Council has approved in the City budget.

The press release about the mailer continued with the following information on Measure C expenditures:

Code Enforcement

  • Hiring of one additional Code Enforcement Officer
  • Hiring of one Development Services/Engineering Tech to support Code Enforcement.
  • Budget for funding of one Code Enforcement Manager (recruitment in progress)
  • Hiring of two General Laborer positions and purchase of related equipment to focus on blight
  • Abatement
  • Purchase of a Code Enforcement vehicle.

Measure C funds are subject to the City’s annual independent audit. In addition, a Sales Tax Citizens’ Oversight Committee reviews receipts and expenditures, and reports to City Council by

April 1st each year regarding use of the funds to ensure monies are being spent in accordance with the Ordinance and as directed by the City Council. These independent audits and reviews have found that the funds have been used in accordance with the Measure C ordinance and have been properly accounted for.

As of June 30, 2016, $4,351,967of the Measure C revenues remained unspent, due mainly to attrition in the Police Department caused by retirements and other separations. However, these funds have been carried forward and are still dedicated to enhancing Police and Code Enforcement services.

  • Funding of four additional Community Service Officers (Two positions have been filled and recruitment in progress for remaining positions).
  • Hiring of one Administrative Analyst to support the Police Department.
  • Hiring of one Police Communications Supervisor.
  • Implementation of a vehicle abatement program.

More information on the City’s budget and Measure C can be found on the City’s website at

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One Comment to “Questions raised by mail out of City of Antioch’s annual report on Measure C revenue and spending”

  1. RJB says:

    Great article. Vote for people who are smart enough to be leaders.

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