Measure E Elk Grove sales tax oversight committee plan approved, citizen offers criticism

With the passage last November of Elk Grove's $23 million annual sales tax increase under Measure E, the Elk Grove City Council took a step to establishing a citizen's oversight committee at their Wednesday, January 25 meeting. 

As part of the Measure, voters were promised the establishment of the oversight committee. The city finance director Matt Paulin presented information on that committee to the city council. 

During his presentation, Paulin noted that the committee would have five members, all nominated by Mayor Bobbie Singh-Allen. Appointments will be made with the consent of Singh Allen's four councilmen, Rod Brewer, Sergio Robles, Kevin Spease, and Darren Suen. 

The appointees will meet semi-annually. Their proposed task is to review budgets for the new revenue, examine expenditures and review the city's annual independent auditor report relating to Measure E.

Of significance, the committee cannot make recommendations on the use of Measure E revenues.  

Calling the committee an "advisory body," Paul told the city council that the "committee really doesn't direct staff on how to use the money, or what those priorities are; that's your prerogative."

During public comment, Elk Grove resident Randy Bekker seemingly criticized the committee's functions. Bekker suggested that the committee should also be tasked with making spending recommendations. 

"Where is the citizens' oversight; where is the citizens' comments'; where is the citizens' intervention, partnership," Bekker asked the city council. "It's not on that board, it's ridiculous." (see Mr. Bekker's entire commentary in the video below). 

During city council deliberation, Councilmember Darren Suen brushed off Bekker's critique. Suen stressed that the Measure E money would be spent at the city council's discretion. 

"The decision power still rests with this council, that's what we were elected to do," Suen said. 

The city has promised to use the annual windfall for various programs centered on quality of life issues and public safety and addressing the city's growing homeless population. Although the city made several promises, it is under no statutory obligation to fulfill them.  

The sales tax increase starts in April and is in effect for perpetuity. 

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