Exeter City Council weighs applicants for Measure P citizens advisory committee, plans to present an initial spending plan with their new sales tax dollars
EXETER – While Exeter City Council waits to haul in their new sales tax dollars, they decided it would be best for the community to decide where that money would best be spent.
At their Jan. 26 meeting the council voted in favor of two items regarding Measure P, the 1% sales tax measure that passed by just under 70% in the November election. The council decided there should be seven members on the citizens advisory committee that will look over Measure P expenditures, and they voted to send an initial priority list to that committee. Although, they did need more time to decide on which seven, out of 11, applicants would be asked to serve.
“I’d probably be comfortable with just reviewing the applications and then discussing it in the next meeting,” new Area E city councilman, Justin Mills said.
The rest of the council agreed that they would take up the issue at their Feb. 9 meeting. City manager Adam Ennis said the council has time to decide on who they would want to nominate. Among the applicants is 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; Larry McIntosh, who put his occupation down as “retail owner”; James Martino, who left his occupation blank; William Stemple, whose application was not initially included for living outside of the district, but was accepted at the Jan. 26 meeting nonetheless; and Joe and Pat Luiz who applied as a couple and listed their occupation as retired. They are the former owners of Exeter Meats.
Mayor Barbara Sally and the rest of the council agreed there should be only one board member per household. City attorney Julia Lew said they could pick a name out of a hat if the council decided they wanted both of them.
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.