While some people will, right out of the gate, argue against having to be burdened with taxes in any capacity for services they don’t use (and even services they do use, unaware of them), as a society, we are going to have to grasp the idea that to be functional, sharing the burden is necessary. Living purely as an independent individual is unrealistic. When it comes to contentious sales-tax initiatives, however, many residents feel that they are an even more egregious step in the wrong direction. As frustrations mount over certain problem areas in our respective communities, there does seem to be some misguided views about the good or lack of it in sales-tax-measure funds that go directly into city coffers and how long it takes to get projects moving. For some perspective, look at Oxnard’s Measure O, passed in 2008.
Worth noting first: From the financial abyss and disarray Oxnard was once notorious for, dating back to even before the District Attorney launching an investigation in 2010 into possible financial improprieties, the city has come a long way. Though some may insist that is not the case, simply looking at the city’s website is somewhat surprising. At data.oxnard.org, one can find a plethora of links and spreadsheets detailing revenue streams, budgets and expenses for all departments, dating back to fiscal year 2015. Some may argue that doesn’t go back far enough, though at the very least, it’s there as opposed to being nonexistent.
Next, when it comes to Measure O, with a swift click of a mouse, curious inquirers can find Measure O projects currently being funded and underway for 2017, a total of 462. (Prior year projects are not readily available, though the upcoming project list for 2018 is pending.) The objective of Measure O, as stated in the measure’s language itself, appears to be on track, from street paving to improved police and fire services to more amenities through parks and recreation. The project listings are rather general, but each has a project number that will surely lead to detailed reports upon further inquiry. If you wanted to know where your tax dollars are going, this is a good place to start. With the recent report in the VCStar that overdue resurfacing of certain streets in Oxnard will finally come to pass by the end of 2018, while it wasn’t clear whether Measure O funds will be used, the article pointed out the complications of such projects, including the risk of damaging crumbling pipes and allocating enough resources to complete such projects. Despite any misconceptions, Oxnard is moving forward.
Looking at Ventura, city officials are already receiving flack for not moving fast enough to use its own Measure O funds, which was enacted on April 1, and not getting city improvement projects underway; yet both Loma Vista and Ventura Avenue have resurfacing projects planned that are imminent. And while the possibility of funding pensions with Measure O funds in Ventura and subsidizing River Ridge Golf Club with a loan from Oxnard’s Measure O has caused residents certain reasonable distrust issues, the funds raised by the sales-tax measures have not just fallen into a black hole for abuse. They are literally being used for services that city residents expected them to be use for. Watchdogs should not be discouraged from keeping city officials accountable, but for residents to live in a certain state of fear that these funds are solely being misused is counterproductive to progress and the resurfaced streets that we all desire.