Exeter council chooses Measure P committee

Exeter chooses seven candidates to appoint to the city’s Measure P citizen oversight committee to oversee how Exeter’s new sales tax dollars are spent

EXETER – The Exeter City Council settled on who will help oversee how the city spends their new tax dollars.

At their Feb. 9 meeting the council discussed and voted to appoint seven members to the Measure P citizens oversight committee. Ultimately the council appointed: Steve Garver, a retired school teacher; Troy Kadin, a sales manager for Western Milling; Veronica Casanova, a county librarian; Patricia Thompson, who identified her occupation as homemaker; Mary Barker, a retired account and grants manager; Jennifer Dunlap, a quality manager for Nichols Farms; and William Stemple, a construction project manager.

Spending plan

The first quarterly installment of Measure P tax dollars is not due to arrive until April of this year.

More importantly during the discussion was what expenditure plan should the committee consider when they are seated. The first citizens advisory committee that met in 2020 suggested the council should pursue a full percent sales tax increase as opposed to a three-quarters, half, or quarter percent. They also suggested the council focus on public safety, roads, code enforcement, parks and recreation and city facility needs.

According to a city staff report, the city expects to receive $212,750 for the final quarter of the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Ennis said in his report to the city council last week that staff intends on using that first disbursement on projects that require some initial start up costs or are one-time costs such as vehicle and equipment purchases, building repairs and tax collection setup with the state.

Starting next fiscal year the city projects to collect $851,000, then $859,510 for fiscal year 2022-2023, $868,105 for fiscal year 2023-2024, $876,786 for fiscal year 2024-2025 and then $885,554 for fiscal year 2025-2026. As it is spelled out in Ennis’ report, public safety has suffered from several deferred needs in recent years. Exeter has not been able to afford a new fire truck, and police has been forced to rely on a state COPS grant to fund one their officer positions. Ennis added that the department has been in need of more supervisorial positions like sergeants and lieutenants as well. There have also been equipment deferrals such as radios and police cars that have run past their usual life span.

“This draft expenditure plan uses Measure P revenue for the deferred needs listed and frees up the current annual COPS grant funding to provide for the vehicle replacements,” Ennis said.

The initial expenditure plan also affords a code enforcement officers that allows, “for more consistent enforcement along with addressing additional community concerns as needed,” according to a staff report.

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