I read Jack Barnwell’s story in Friday’s Daily Independent regarding a proposed 1-percent sales tax for the unincorporated areas of Kern County to support the Kern County Sheriff’s Department.
The story stated the county faces an Aug. 10 deadline to place items on the Nov. 6 ballot. The Kern County Board of Supervisors will have only one meeting to consider that option, scheduled for July 24.
As I see it, the only request before the board is to place the item on the ballot. It is not being asked to approve the proposed tax. That is for the voters to decide.
I understand Kern County First District Supervisor Mick Gleason’s concerns when he reportedly said he said he supports the sheriff’s department and anything to help it succeed in its goal, but the tax doesn’t sit well with him.
The question on my mind is how the projected revenue will be used if the voters approve the tax. Will it include reopening the Ridgecrest Jail? Will the Indian Wells Valley get its fair share?
Gleason made a valid point when he reportedly said the board of supervisors’ makeup could be different four years from now, with different priorities.
Perhaps the county should follow the Ridgecrest model of oversight. When the voters approved Measure L and its successor Measure V to be used for public safety and for infrastructure, it also included a citizens’ oversight committee to ensure those funds were used as intended.
Each member of the Ridgecrest City Council appointed a member to this committee, and it makes an annual report on expenditures.
Each board member can appoint one member to an oversight committee, and the committee will approve all expenditures. If an oversight committee is created, members must come from the unincorporated areas.
Gleason said dumping a tax increase on taxpayers is not the last option to look at.
Are there other options that have not been looked at? If that is the case, Gleason needs to suggest them.
The views expressed are those of the columnist and do not necessarily represent the official stance of the Daily Independent.