-By Phil Simmons
Help me understand. On June 6th the good citizens of Hercules voted to increase sales taxes by voting in favor of Measure O. Due to the way Measure O was placed on the ballot these taxes must go into the city’s general fund. Measure O taxes were not set aside for specific needs such as the police or the senior center. But, Measure O was sold to the public based on the priorities that the public, the Hercules City Council, and the city manager all seemed to agree on at the time, which was to save parks and recreation, hire back the depleted police department, and maintain crucial city services.
We all needed to support Measure O in the hopes of avoiding these cuts to the city’s key personnel. The Hercules City Council supported the tax measure and the city manager made his own personal plea and provided the community with information on the importance of this tax increase. In fact, the city manager report for June 2nd and May 26th stated the following:
“Ideas to reduce the deficit were discussed, including the elimination of senior programs, teen and youth programs and aquatic programs, and, if Measures O and N do not pass on June 5, further reducing police services.”
On August the 13th I went to city hall to get some information on a development map. While I was there I noticed a public announcement titled:
“Internal/External Recruitment For: Senior Accountant”
Evidently the city must need another accountant to assist our current financial director. This is a decision that the city manager alone makes. The recruitment notice for this new “Senior Accountant” states that the pay will be between $65,562 - $79,801. Surely this is enough pay to hire one more police officer? We the public have little input about these decisions and we probably do not really know what the reasons are for hiring a new Senior Accountant. These decisions are what we pay the city manager to make, because, we the public, cannot possibly know what is needed to manage our city.
But what the public does know is that we were told that the city “Has No Money”. It has been shouted from the rooftops for many months. What we also know is that we voted for Measure O based on being told that the emergency measure for Measure O was necessary. We also thought we knew that It would provide for the safety and security of the public and provide the public with the civic services to which we have become accustom.
Help me understand. Why did we vote YES on Measure O? What are our priorities?