Just For Funds
Last week’s city council meeting began with a song and dance led by the Santa Cruz Follies, but eventually devolved into audible groans of exasperation from community members. The source of unrest? The debate over campaign finance reform in Santa Cruz, which came to a thudding halt when councilmember Micah Posner’s latest campaign finance proposal was voted down, 5-2.
The latest proposal from Posner and Vice Mayor Don Lane would have put a plan on the November ballot to offer pubic one-for-one matching funds in $5,000 increments for city council candidates.
The mood was tensely cordial despite impassioned input from locals and councilmembers, including Pamela Comstock and David Terrazas, who spoke against the proposal.
“I think it should be vetted more properly through the public and get the signatures required for the ballot measure,” said Pamela Comstock, who had encouraged Take Back Santa Cruz members to write council letters against the plan. “This seems like a pet project.”
Terrazas didn’t think the program, which would have cost up to an estimated $80,000 a year, was worth the city’s “scarce public resources,” although Posner said he thought the public was conscious of the city’s financial situation.
“We could have more people run for office: college students, people of color,” Posner said in comments made before the vote.
Community members who took the opportunity to speak on the issue overwhelmingly supported the plan, citing a variety of concerns, including fears of fascism.
Just over half of the 70 emails to the council were also in support. Anne-Marie Harrison
The city of Santa Cruz is weighing two new water rate increases—one that would hopefully be temporary and another that would increase 10 percent annually over the next five years.
When people use less water—even under mandatory water restrictions, it means less money in the bank, or in this case, in the water fund. But meanwhile the Department’s costs have not gone down.
With that in mind, the Water Commission voted last week to recommend a two-year drought recovery fee, as well as a 61 percent rate increase over five years. The latter is being driven by a separate factor—the costs of water system repairs, including ones to the Bay Street reservoirs.
Also: last month Standard & Poor downgraded the city’s bond rating, based on what it views as an unreliability in the Department’s water supply. “If you don’t have supply, you can’t operate the system much less pay the bonds,” water director Rosemary Menard explains.
Or pump anyone water, for that matter, so let’s hope things never get that extreme. Jacob Pierce
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