If you’re a Fairfielder, the presidential election isn’t the most immediately consequential vote you’ll cast Nov. 6. That distinction belongs to Measure P, the Protect Fairfield initiative.
The city is in financial crisis primarily because in addition to the Great Recession, Sacramento snatched $44 million from Fairfield over the past three years.
The city responded by cutting 150 jobs, cutting spending and renegotiating employee compensation. We’ve cut millions of dollars. After analyzing the available options, the City Council’s two most fiscally conservative members, John Mraz and Catherine Moy, decided that a tax measure be considered and the council voted to place it on the ballot.
Measure P adds a five-year 1 percent sales tax that will enable Fairfield to remain a viable city. There would be citizen oversight and an annual independent audit to make sure the funds are being collected and used to protect Fairfield.
There are serious consequences if Measure P fails. The city would have to cut up to 17 police officers. Also cut would be crime prevention programs and anti-gang activities. After-school programs and youth sports would fall to the budget ax.
As pointed out in an editorial by Mraz and Moy over the summer, we would have to stop prosecuting some crimes to focus on violent crimes. Imagine a city with fewer cops on the force, no activities to keep young people from joining gangs and prosecutors prosecuting only violent crimes.
Firefighters will need to be cut as well. These cuts will affect emergency response times. When we call 911 with a medical emergency, a fire or a crime in progress, we want as fast a response as possible. Every second counts. But first responders can’t give us the same level of service with drastically fewer resources.
The aquatic complex and the sports center at Allan Witt Park are a great addition to Fairfield. But without new revenue, they’re most likely going under.
The Fairfield Senior Center, with its myriad activities, information, education and meals for active seniors, will likely see its doors shuttered if Measure P fails.
Street and park maintenance will take a hit. Poorly maintained roads affect your vehicles. Not maintaining our parks is both an aesthetic and safety problem.
In addition to residents, regional shoppers at our mall, tourists and people passing through would be contributing to our city’s coffers. All of that money will stay in Fairfield.
I can imagine some opponents think the scenario I’ve outlined here is nothing more than scare tactics. I’m just giving you the facts and I can’t help it if they’re scary. It’s the reality of what will happen if Fairfield can no longer afford to pay these bills.
Folks work hard for their money, so the time to support a tax increase is after you’ve made serious cuts, the alternative would be catastrophic and there’s accountability. We’ve met that test. And the second there’s fiscal shenanigans, I know that Mraz or Moy are going to be on the phone to me screaming in unprintable language about it and I will expose it here.
If there’s only one tax measure you support this November it has to be Measure P to protect Fairfield. Peace.
Kelvin Wade is a writer/author. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.