The five-person citizen oversight committee that will be tasked with ensuring that the revenue generated from the recently passed Measures A and B initiatives will be spent on public infrastructure was revealed today, in a release from Mayor Robert Garcia’s office.
Among the five people nominated for appointment by the mayor are Joel Yuhas, the CEO and president of St. Mary’s Medical Center, Mary Stephens, vice president for administration and finance at Cal State Long Beach (CSULB), Judy Ross, the former executive director of the Long Beach Nonprofit Partnership, Jane Netherton, chair emeritus of International City Bank and former Ninth District Councilman Steven Neal, a minister and civic engagement advocate at Molina Healthcare. Four of the city's nine districts are represented in the selections, with the Third District (Netherton, Ross) holding two of the mayor's selections.
The five appointees are scheduled to be be confirmed at the August 2 Long Beach City Council meeting. The release touted the five selections for their ‘extensive experience in finance, administration and community service.”
“These five residents are highly qualified, with a range and depth of both financial and community experience that has earned them the trust of the community,” Garcia said in the release. “I know they will serve with integrity and skill, and I’m thankful for their willingness to take on this responsibility.”
Measure A, the transactions and use tax that was voted into effect during the June primary, will increase the city’s sales tax by one percent for six years and decrease by half a percent for four years, before “sunsetting’ at the end of 10 years. The corresponding Measure B will create a rainy day fund that will set aside one percent of the revenue generate for future projects.
The 10 percent sales tax will give Long Beach one of the larger sales taxes in California, and will go into effect at the beginning of next year.
The tax increase was proposed by Garcia as a way to combat the infrastructure and public safety needs in Long Beach after an era of cuts that left the police and fire departments below their desired staffing levels and resulted in a mounting backlog of road repairs that some city officials said would cost over $2 billion over the next decade to bring back up to par.
A critical part of the Measure A campaign was a resolution that the city council voted on that required the oversight committee to track the use of funds generated by the tax increase as opponents of the measure stated the money raised could be used on anything, including giving raises to personnel at the fire and police departments, two entities that donated large sums to the Measure A campaign.
Although the resolution is non-binding, especially for future councils, it was seen as a way to instill trust among the public that the funds would be spent in the areas they were promised during the campaign. The tax, which will exclude groceries and medicines, is projected to generate upward of $48 million annually. Both measures passed with nearly 60 percent of the vote during the June 7 primary.
“We’re going to be incredibly good stewards of this responsibility that the voters have given us,” Garcia said during an election night reception for the Measure A campaign. “We are going to launch the largest public works program in 40 or 50 years. This is so exciting.”