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City Council. REINSTATE Public Budget Review for Courthouse Square!

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VOTERS and TAXPAYERS of SANTA ROSA IT'S NOT TOO LATE!

Join Us! Tell our City Council to STOP breaching ethics and breaking the law when it comes to violating the city charter sections 10 and 28 regarding the funding of the Courthouse Square project. We demand transparency and open government.

It’s been nine weeks since the Santa Rosa City Council’s controversial decision to approve the $10–$20 million reunification of Courthouse Square. Public outcry over that decision ensued. The allegations of impropriety are numerous, but evidence points to a breach of ethics over city charter violations. Let your conscience be your guide.

The following are facts I located in the public records, as well as verbal confirmation from Councilwoman, Julie Combs. The Courthouse Square project is classified as a “capital improvement project” (CIP). These projects are subject to annual public budget review requirements, which take place over a five-year period prior to the commencement of a project. City charter section 28 requires that “prior to any annual goal setting meeting held by the Council, the Council shall hold a public hearing seeking oral and written comment from the public on budget priorities for the upcoming fiscal year.”

The capital budget records properly account for the five year budget review of Courthouse Square sewer and street repairs. But Councilwoman Combs informed me that the remaining expenditures for Courthouse Square do not need to pass the five year public budget review, even though I pressed her on the fact that the taxpayer "general fund" will be used to pay for the project.  City charter section 10 requires that Council shall receive advisement through its appointed community advisory board (CAB). The CAB’s responsibility is to “greatly increase citizen and neighborhood participation and responsibility,” including helping to set annual “CIP budget priorities for their respective districts.”  But CAB failed to comply with a January, 2016 deadline for the Courthouse Square community budget outreach.  Councilwoman Combs gave me no guarantee that Council would enforce the charter.

The charter requirements are the city’s governing constitution voted by the people, which the city council must fulfill. If it is not, citizens remain unrepresented in meetings in which they’re allowed to participate—to support or oppose CIP budget priorities and review regarding Courthouse Square.

What are your thoughts? Have the citizens of Santa Rosa been disenfranchised from the budget review of Courthouse Square?

Here's the petition we'll be turning in to city council. YOU can make a difference!

City Council,

I OPPOSE the funding of the Courthouse Square Reunification Project until city council resolves the conflicting information and ethics breach over city charter sections 10 and 28.  As a TAXPAYER I deserve to know if this project is a sound investment before you break ground! Furthermore, I oppose any finance scheme (e.g., "Certificates of Participation") that leaves me no VOTE and has consequences to me as a TAXPAYER.  As a voter I want to participate in financial input, such as public survey, public hearings, study sessions, including  the FOUR community meetings required by city charter section 10 resolution, February, 2016.

 

Definition of Certificates of Participation (COPs):  a method of leveraging public assets (as in SANTA ROSA CITY HALL) and borrowing all or a portion of the value of a public agency's equity in those assets (CITY HALL) in order to finance other assets (as in SANTA ROSA COURTHOUSE SQUARE).  Borrowing equity by way of Certificates of Participation is paid by taxpayers through the city's General Fund at a HIGHER INTEREST RATE than a voter-approved tax.  This finance scheme is a NO VOTE form of taxpayer indebtedness typically used when a city government knows it cannot get the 2/3 required  vote from a conventional tax referendum. "A $10 million project, if fully funded with such certificates, would cost the city’s general fund about $670,000 per year for 30 years, or a total of $20 million."  Source: Press Democrat, Sept. 15, 2015.

 

 

 



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