Saturday, August 25, 2012

Another View: We're helping city, not playing games - Sacramento Bee

Sacramento City Council members Steve Cohn, Darrell Fong and Kevin McCarty are responding to the Aug. 22 editorial notebook, "Political follies will imperil tax measure."

Let us be clear â€" we support Measure U, the temporary local sales tax measure on the November ballot.

This half-cent sales tax is vitally important to restore the cuts that have devastated our city. Remember that we have been forced to cut more than $100 million from our city budget over the last five years. We have no way to predict what will happen at the state level, but without additional local revenue, we will have to make even deeper cuts.

The City Council unanimously voted to place Measure U on the ballot. Seven council members have expressly endorsed it. We worked to craft a thoughtful approach incorporating suggestions by the business community, such as independent citizen oversight, independent annual audits and a six-year sunset provision so the tax expires automatically without a second vote of the people.

Once the tax measure was set, we engaged community leaders to show their support. Some of them signed the ballot arguments. Those who did are closest to the cuts â€" our police and fire chiefs, neighborhood leaders and local business leaders. They see firsthand what the cuts to our city have meant â€" more than 150 police officers lost, community policing programs and gang prevention programs eliminated, three fire station brownouts and reduced coverage by our firefighters.

It has also meant the elimination of most youth and senior services, reduced library hours, drastic cutbacks to park maintenance and safety, partial closure of community centers and clubhouses and the closure next year of all community pools. We hope as this campaign progresses that more community leaders join our cause to restore the programs we have been forced to cut.

Unfortunately there are some who continue to look for a conspiracy behind our efforts and have made charges about us not signing the ballot arguments.

We are proud to lead this effort and will be encouraging our constituents to vote for Measure U. We had no control over the opposition arguments, nor did we have any ability to control what they did or did not do. We simply followed the rules set forth in state and local laws, and the guidelines established by the city clerk.

This is not about insider politics. Measure U is about keeping this city moving forward in the face of severe cutbacks in revenue and shrinking budgets. We would hope that everyone who cares about our great city supports this measure in November.

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