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April 8, 2020

Report: Police, Fire spending Measure G funds wisely

WATSONVILLE—What will happen if Measure Y does not pass in next month’s election?

That question is difficult to answer, as Watsonville Administrative Services Director Cindy Czerwin said at Wednesday afternoon’s Measure G Oversight Committee meeting.

When pressed by committee Chair Rick Danna on the matter, Czerwin said it would ultimately be up to the Watsonville City Council to determine how much—if at all—the budgets of the police and fire departments would be slashed if the renewal of the half-cent public safety sales tax did not receive voter approval in a few weeks.

The good news?

Thanks to prudent spending from both department heads, Chief of Police David Honda and Fire Chief Rudy Lopez Sr., both agencies would have what Czerwin called “several years” worth of capital fund reserves as well as a full final year of Measure G funding to work with if the new measure fails.

Police are expected to have a reserve of $1,561,544 at the end of the current fiscal year and fire will have $1,194,177 in the bank.

“They wouldn’t be necessarily competing with the General Fund for capital at least for a few years,” Czerwin said. “That would give us time to do some contingency planning and deal with the capital cost as well.”

Wednesday was the first of the committee’s bi-annual public meetings, which serve as a check-in on how the police and fire departments are spending their Measure G funds. The 11-member committee is made up of everyday members of the community such as Danna, a realtor for Bailey Properties.

While there was some talk about Measure Y, which would take the place of Measure G if it passes in March, most of Wednesday’s meeting focused on the hirings, purchases and progress that has been made since the tax was approved by voters in 2014.

WPD has used the funds to hire 14 employees, including five beat officers, and purchase three new patrol vehicles, two motorcycles and one van for the Police Activities League. The department also expanded and improved its locker room, purchased body-worn cameras and updated its record management system.

On top of that, Watsonville PAL has served 709 young people with Measure G funds and 109 young people have completed Caminos Hacia el Éxito, a program for young people who commit a misdemeanor. Of those 109 people, 83 percent have remained arrest free.

WFD, meanwhile, has hired eight employees, including seven firefighters, and purchased a new tiller ladder truck and a new storage container with its Measure G funds. The tax also helped fund the Youth Fire Academy, which started last year. 

Lopez said that in the near future he wants to increase the number of Youth Fire Academy participants from 15-20, start a paramedic training program for local EMT’s who are struggling to afford paramedic classes elsewhere, and create a CPR program for Spanish speakers.

Measure G will sunset in September 2021.

Tony Nuñez
Tony Nuñez
Managing Editor Tony Nuñez is a longtime member of the Watsonville community who served as Sports Editor for five years before entering his current role in 2019. A Watsonville High, Cabrillo College and San Jose State University alumnus, he covers the city, business, housing, entertainment and more.

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