Council establishes Measure X oversight committee

MARTINEZ, Calif. – Martinez City Council agreed Wednesday to establish an oversight committee to review Measure X spending and set its bylaws.

Measure X, approved by a supermajority of voters last year, established a half-sent sales tax in Martinez to raise money to maintain municipal services. California will start collecting the revenues in April, and will distribute the money later to Martinez.

Members of this citizens’ oversight panel will have longer office terms than those who have been sitting on the panels that review the measures that produce money spent on parks and city roads. That was requested by City Treasurer Carolyn Robinson, said Deputy Director of Administrative Services Michael Chandler.

Members of the other two oversight committees serve two-year terms, with a limit of two terms.

The new panel’s initial members will serve either three-year or four-year terms, with subsequent terms being four years long. The panel also will have term limits.

The Measure X oversight committee will review the city’s semi-annual revenue and expenditure reports and other documents related to Measure X, and will produce annual reports about whether the money is being spent efficiently and effectively.

Members also may make recommendations about how money is spent.

But they’ll have no role in project management, contracting or decision-making about spending priorities, schedules, project details or financing plans.

Robinson will be the panel’s chairperson, and the remaining six members must be Martinez residents at least 18. As much as possible, members should represent the city’s four voting districts and reflect the city’s diversity, the Council agreed.

Ideally, citizen candidates would have experience as professionals in financial fields and have business and community service experience as well.

Applications are being accepted through March 6, although Chandler said that deadline might be extended. After applications are reviewed by Mayor Rob Schroder and Robinson, nominations will be made for full Council consideration March 20.

The Council also gave City Engineer Tim Tucker permission to prepare reports and assessment diagrams for several Landscaping and Lighting Assessment districts: Village Oaks Terrace, Muir Station Park, Vista Oaks, Center Martinez, Creekside, Brittany Hills, Terra Vista and Alhambra Estates.

The documents are required each time district assessments are to be renewed and levied. Once they’re done, the Council will schedule a public hearing, at which the districts’ residents may speak. After the hearing, the Council will make its decision on the assessments.

Acting as the Board of Directors of Contra Costa County Sanitation District No. 6, the Council introduced an ordinance that would prescribe annual sewer service charges to the Stonehurst Subdivision. Tucker recommended no changes to the district boundaries, nor did he recommend any increase to the charges, currently $1,950 annually.

District 6 was formed in 1992 to provide sewer service to the Stonehurst subdivision of Alhambra Valley. Formerly the responsibility of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, the district became Martinez’s responsibility in 2015 after a portion was annexed in 2012.

Vice Mayor Noralea Gipner expressed concern that the subdivision’s sewer infrastructure would need greater repairs than the assessments would raise.

Schroder said replacement would cost several million dollars, and Martinez Police Chief Manjit Sappal, who is acting as city manager until a permanent city manager can be hired, said the city should prepare to handle the situation, although Schroder said homeowners likely would have to pay the costs.

In the meantime, Schroder said, “It’s good enough for now.”

The Council learned that Shelby Sugierski, regional manager of Rising Sun, is changing positions. Her successor is Alejandro Castelan, she said.

Rising Sun also has a new name, Rising Sun Center for Opportunity, which also has new partners.

The nonprofit organization hires students to perform power and water audits to help residents become more energy efficient and more conscientious about saving water. It has provided its service to Martinez since 2014.

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