City departments vie for Measure N funds

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The Citizens Oversight Committee is much closer to deciding how it would like to see money from Measure N is spent.

Measure N was the one-cent sales tax increase voters narrowly passed in November which will take effect in April.

Monday evening, three departments made their pitch on why they need funds from Measure N. The committee heard from Homeless Services, Technology Services, and Parks and Recreation.

The City of Bakersfield estimates Measure N will bring in $58 million for the fiscal year beginning July 1.

Members of the Measure N committee say the majority of the money should be allocated to the Bakersfield police and fire departments.

As for other city departments?

“I think that that’s the balance that we’re looking for,” said Measure N committee member Wayland Louie. “After public safety, then how do we allocate a given amount of money fairly?”

Technology Services asked for just over one million dollars for equipment maintenance costs.

Homelessness Services made a proposal for four million dollars to create emergency “bridge housing”.

“The fact of the matter is, there just are not enough beds or facilities available, and of the that are available, many of them have requirements related to sobriety, you cannot have pets, you cannot be in a relationship or have a family. What we’re hearing is that there’s a significant portion and percentage of the homeless population that doesn’t fit into those types of facilities.” said Jacqui Kitchen, Development Services Director for the City of Bakersfield.

“We’ve heard interest in creating something called a low-barrier ‘bridge housing’ type homeless facility and this would be an emergency response home, somewhere for those people to go when they can’t go elsewhere,” said Kitchen.

Parks and Recreation asked for $12 million for a team to clean up the parks on a daily basis and to add more sports parks as an incentive to keep kids off the streets.

All three departments asked for funds for more staff.

“It’s just a question of allocation to provide for the proper level of both equipment and personnel each department is asking for,” said Louie.

The committee will meet next Monday, April 1 to hear from public works and discuss returns on investment.

The meeting is at 5:15 p.m. in the council chambers at city hall on Truxtun Avenue. As always, it is open to the public.

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