The Tracy Press has in times past pointed out when we thought the actions taken by our city leaders were vague or did not serve the best interest of our citizens. It is only right to publicly laud the City Council when appropriate.
Tuesday, during their regular meeting, the council members considered various ways to get the funds raised through Measure V, the half-cent sales tax increase voters approved in 2016, to community amenities sooner rather than later. Last year, the city raised about $9.1 million through Measure V, and projections for future revenue remain in that ballpark.
Their financial team offered a half-dozen different options to buy bonds against the expected proceeds from the tax for the next 20 years. (An estimated $200 million.) The debt service for getting between $48 million and $70 million within the next few years and not waiting for the money to come in naturally was extraordinary — about half of what’s expected to come in.
The council members listened to about 30 minutes of explanation about each of the six bonding options, some of which included going back to the voters to seek a two-thirds vote to extend the life of the sales tax increase, and then did what we think is the responsible thing. To a person, Mayor Robert Rickman, Mayor Pro Tem Nancy Young and council members Dan Arriola, Rhodesia Ransom and Veronica Vargas all indicated that they would rather pay for amenities as the money became available, even if it meant pushing the planned aquatic center, multigenerational center or some other amenity out a few years.
They all expressed the belief that, although residents clearly want the amenities sooner rather than later, they would not want to spend half of every dollar raised to pay off bankers. They all talked about how many more amenities could be funded with that money.
We believe this is the proper response to the question of how to best spend Measure V monies. The City Council has been very aggressive in recent years to spend tens of millions of dollars on projects, and we respect and agree with their measured decision here. They may yet use bonds to get some money up front, but they made it clear to the city staff that they expected not to waste the taxpayers’ money on bond service.
If the revenue from Measure V remains consistent, the aquatic center and multigenerational center will be paid for by the mid-2020s — and then we will have another 13 years of income to make Tracy even grander.