Plans for Measure U public safety tax to be reviewed by Hemet City Council Dec.13

Howard Rosenthal, sitting, listens to Eric Gosch, local auto dealer, appeal to the Hemet City Council to quickly form a Measure U oversight committee made up of local citizens who would monitor the expenditure of the new sales tax revenues to be sure it is spend only on the city public safety departments in the future. Tony Ault photo 
Howard Rosenthal, sitting, listens to Eric Gosch, local auto dealer, appeal to the Hemet City Council to quickly form a Measure U oversight committee made up of local citizens who would monitor the expenditure of the new sales tax revenues to be sure it is spend only on the city public safety departments in the future. Tony Ault photo

Police Chief David Brown and Fire Chief Scott Brown will present their proposals to expand the city police and fire departments and improve emergency medical calls in the city to the Hemet City Council at its next meeting Dec.13.

In addition to the city council hearing the city public safety department’s plans for the next five years, the council is expected to appoint an oversight committee to make sure the $10 million per year Measure U is projected to bring to city in a one-cent sales tax is spent only for the city public safety departments as it was intended.

The Hemet police and fire chiefs at the Tuesday, Nov. 15, City Council meeting thanked the city council and the residents of the city for voting in Measure U with more than a 60 percent approval rating promising to bring residents a safer and more secure city.

“The passage of Measure U represents a great victory for this city and our community,” said Police Chief Brown. “This was a team effort that included the most broad and diverse coalition of organizations and individuals that this city has have ever seen in my lifetime.” He praised the four members of the city council who voted to place the measure on the November ballot.

He said to those in the council audience, “I assure you we are prepared to follow through on the enormous expectations you and the council have of us.”

Fire Chief Brown also thanked the community and the council for helping the passage of Measure U. “I want to express my heartfelt thank you and appreciation to the business community and the members of the community who stood tall to support our police and fire departments,” Brown said.

Their specific proposals, once presented and approved by the council, will then set the direction for the spending of Measure U sales tax revenues. City Manager Alex Meyerhoff said the collection of money from the new sales tax will go into effect April 1, 2017, following the city council declaring the election results and approving the public safety department’s action plans at the Dec. 13 meeting with the effective date beginning Dec. 23.

The chiefs presented their preliminary action plans to the council and the public at the Nov. 15 meeting.

The police chief outlined his action plan in three steps:

First he said he will “jump-start” his troop surge by hiring his first wave of officers, establishing a special enforcement bureau and “front load” his officer’s safety equipment.

Second he will implement an aggressive recruitment plan. He will accomplish this by developing a strategy to “find, attract and retain” lateral (trained) officers and then reinstate and enhance hiring and incentive programs.

Finally, he said, will enhance enforcement of local ordinances by using the local prosecutor to use aggressive zero tolerance prosecution of Post Release Community Supervision violators and prioritize PRCS task force staffing.

Fire Chief Brown’s immediate action plan will be to immediately fill the battalion chief rank who will help establish command structure to address management deficiencies; convert Station 5 to a paramedic engine company; implement and aggressive recruitment plan; and enhance the emergency services bureau. He noted that he will be working to improve the city’s overall fire insurance rating.

“My intent is to bring this department into the 21st century to meet the industry’s best practices and standard,” noted Chief Brown.

Details of these preliminary proposals will be presented to council Dec. 13.

Responding to the chief’s proposals and the council’s future action in implementing Measure U funds were three members of the audience who were extremely favorable to Measure U and prominent in the business community urged the council to take immediate steps to establish a citizen’s oversight committee to assure all city councils in the future see that the money from Measure U goes on to the city public safety forces.

Howard Rosenthal, local Realtor and strong supporter of Measure U pointed out the money from the Measure needed to spent only for public safety purposes only and during the entire campaign to get Measure U passed advocated establishing an oversight committee.

Mayor Bonnie Wright urged citizens who would like to serve on such and oversight committee turn in an application to the city and explain why they would like to serve. A letter of intent would be needed and turned in to the city clerk.

Eric Gosch, a major car dealer in the community, who worked to see Measure U pass said, the council should quickly form an oversight committee to oversee the expenditures of the Measure. “Good to see sense of urgency on Measure U.” He said there need to be a baseline for the budgets so the community can see what is being spent on public safety with a separate accountability for the funding so “it’s not going elsewhere.”

Ted Faust, director of the Western Science Center, thanked the council, the chiefs and community for helping pass Measure U. However, he warned the council, chiefs and staff that they will be held accountable for the use of the Measure U to make sure it is spent only for public safety. “None of this money should be pulled astray.” We ask for strong accountability for this money.

The council and the two Hemet councilmembers elect Karlee Myer and Michael Perciful (in attendance Nov. 15) were in agreement to form the oversight committee for Measure U.

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