What Did We Tell You About Measure O

Measure O, the Santa Rosa quarter cent sales tax for Police, Fire and Gang Prevention was passed by the city’s voters at the November 4, 2004 general election.  At that time the Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association warned the voters that the City had not made a good case for passage of this Measure.  The City preferred to market this tax in a politically popular manner.  Voters deserved to be told the whole story, including that tax money could be diverted at the will of the City Council to non public safety purposes.  When it comes to proposals to increase taxes credibility is the “coin of the realm”.    The City has lost this critical element.


We do not like to say we told you so, but we did.  The City Council recently voted to call for a fiscal crisis.   According the Measure O’s language this permits the City to redirect funds away from public safety.   The City now can take the nearly $ 4 million in Measure O reserves and place it into the general fund to use as they please.  We constantly remind City officials that the main purpose for having municipal government is to provide public safety and public works.  All other services are ancillary.


As former police chief, Sal Rosano and  Sheriff Mark Ihde, both of who strongly supported Measure O,  stated in a recent newspaper article:  “While the City may have significant financial difficulty there is no excuse for violating commitments to the public when there are a variety of other options, albeit painful”.  “It is regrettable that government sometimes uses public safety issues to garner voter support for additional funding, then ultimately diverts the funds for other uses.”


The role of the Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association is to attempt to inform  the taxpayers of  this type action by government.  Sometimes we are successful, unfortunately, in this case the taxpayers did not heed our warning.


Fred Levin

Executive Director

Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association

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