YOLO SUN OPINION :
City of Woodland recently issued its required, annual sales tax report, regarding local Measures E and J (1/2 cent and 1/4 cent, respectively), the former funding capital (civic) improvements and the latter funding various municipal programs.
Measure E is currently projected to raise $49.2 million in total revenue during its twelve year term, 2006-18, of which 45% must (according to its ballot advisories) be spent on roadway renovation.
By far, Measure E’s largest funding category is roadway renovation, at $20.76 million, of which only $11.28 million has been expended to date (June 30, 2016) — just 27 months from its sunset date (September 30, 2018). Measure F was enacted by local voters in November, 2016, basically extending this 1/2 cent sales tax program, for another dozen years (until December 30, 2030).
Questions clearly arise about why almost half of total funding for roadway renovation (~$9.5 million) remains to be allocated during the final 27 months of Measure E’s term.
Measure E’s budget already includes a “Reserve” element, amounting to $1.68 million (roughly twice the revenue dedicated to Woodland Public Library ($.874 million)).
(a) With Measure F approved to continue funding of roadway renovation (although, without Measure E’s advisory measure setting a 45% rate), why is it necessary to relatively instantly expend / categorically reserve this entire ~$9.5 million in budgeted — but yet unused — roadway renovation funds of Measure E?
(b) Is this ~$9.5 million required for delayed renovation of Kentucky Avenue, or for exactly what purpose?
(c) Is (was) the roadway renovation component of Measure E: inflated / exaggerated / overdrawn?
(d) Will as much as 45% of Measure F funds be needed in the future to keep local roads in order; if not, how will such increasingly available funds be used?
Measure E funding categories of: Parks – Ball Fields – Pool ($4.65 million), Civic Center Expansion ($3.3 million), Community & Senior Center Sports Park ($7.26 million) and Library repairs ($.274 million) are all at or very near their budgeted allotments.
A category named, Opera House / State Theater, has $1.34 million budgeted, but has to date (over)expended $1.47 million, with $556,620 spent in FY 2015-16.
Library renovation and expansion, begun in the late 1980s, will finally become completed in 2017 (- thirty years later –) by the finishing of its remaining ~1,600 square feet of space ($.6 million).
Finishing this last ~1600 square feet came in $10,000 over allocated budget ($.6 million). This $10,000 was taken from the library’s independent reserve account (Fund 917), rather than being handled with added sales-tax money.
Contrastingly, ~$130,000 is represented as being over-drafted within the Opera House / State Theater category of funding (just above). While, it appears that $10,000 was too much to over-draft for the library.
Library expansion (presently, it is only 1/3 of the size recommended by national standards) was again an original goal of Measure E, but only $.874 million became available, largely due to fiscal impacts of its roadway renovation category ($20.76 million), as well as to fiscal impacts of the second largest category of sales-tax revenue funding: Debt Service on the Community & Senior Center / Sports Park ($12.34 million). Combined, these two categories alone amount to ~$33 million of Measure E’s projected $49.2 million.
This Debt Service category has amounted to ~$1 million per year for the previous eight years (since the collapse of a boondoggled, development-fee based bond-service mechanism). Curiously, ~$4 million ($12.34 million, minus $8.1 million) remains budgeted for the final 27 months of Measure E revenue collection, instead of the regularly annual ~$1 million payment.
Measure F is directed to serially continuing this Debt Service category / purpose, likely for another decade, whereupon this “Long Term Loan” (as characterized by the city, to explain / excuse its apparent abridgment of Measure E’s ballot advisories, by servicing otherwise defaulting bonded debt) might begin to be repaid — likely with added future sales tax revenue.
(e) Why are several million dollars, of seemingly over-budgeted, sales-tax revenue, contained within this Debt Service category?
(f) When and how is funding to be raised for accomplishment of the long recognized need for basic library expansion?
(g) When and how is funding to be raised for accomplishment of the long recognized need for opera house expansion (another specific goal of Measure E)?
These seven questions (a – g) demand immediate and meaningful responses from city hall.