Sep 132008

Not surprisingly, the Morgan Hill Police Department wants more money. And they’ve decided the best way to get it is to pass a 2% tax “on the use of gas, electric, water, sewer, garbage, telecommunications and video/CATV services.”  According to the full color (read: expensive) flier I (and probably you) received in my mailbox today if Measure G does not pass “the City will not likely be in a position to add new positions such as additional police officers,”which elicited a resounding “good” from me, but may not have from you.  So let’s review-

  • In 2004 the people of Morgan hill spent roughly $10,000,000 on a new police station.
  • In June 2008 Morgan Hill Police Chief Bruce Cumming reported that “[t]he department had a productive year, [in 2007]. Among the accomplishments, Cumming told council members, is the creation of a regional SWAT team with the Gilroy Police Department and the implementation of the anti-gang GREAT program in Morgan Hill schools.”
  • At the same time Chief Cumming announced that “[s]ome of the goals for the new year, which begins July 1, include reinstating the department’s K-9 program with funding from community donations and implementing a city-wide telephone notification system.  Cumming also hopes to increase the department’s 36 sworn officers with seven more sworn officers and two more multi-service officers.”
  • In July 2008, the Morgan Hill Police Department added five new officers.
  • In August 2008, the department “hired” Pax, an 18 month old German Shepherd, thus successfully “reinstating the department’s K-9 program.”

So why, exactly do the people of Morgan Hill need to supply the police with another $1,800,000?  They seem to be doing just fine without it and have already met the majority of their goals for 2008 in just a few months!

Again, returning to the flier, here’s the section on responsibility-

Q) What controls are there that Measure G funds will be spent responsibly?

A) The UUT Ordinance includes extraordinary accountability measures.  Every two years, the City Council is required to make findings that the tax is necessary for the City’s financial health or the tax expires.  It requires two-thirds vote (i.e. four of five Council members) to continue the tax.

Excuse me?  You call this “extraordinary accountability measures”? All this means is that every two years the council needs to rubber stamp the continuation of the tax.  They’ll ask themselves the question: “do we need this money?” For government, the answer to that question is always yes.  Nothing in this measure even requires that the money be spent on the police department!  It just goes in to the general fund to be used for whatever purpose the (then current) council deems appropriate.  And it’s not exactly difficult to make the case that the police don’t need the money…

Q) Why doesn’t the City reduce services in other areas such as recreation to enhance other City services such as police?A) Public Safety is currently the City Council’s highest priority as indicated by the fact the City spends 83% of all discretionary dollars on police and fire.  Over the past several years, the City has cut back on less critical service levels and eliminated positions from Park Maintenance, Human Resources and other administrative functions.

{emphasis added}

Again, that’s from the flier. Do not be fooled, this is not a “police funding” tax, or even a “public safety” tax.  It’s simply another way for the City Council to sugar coat their latest money grab.


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