The City of Bakersfield will begin to collect Measure N sales tax revenue in the coming weeks. City Manager Alan Tandy said the funds from the tax will be immediately put to use.
The city is expected to collect $58 million this year thanks to the one cent sales tax measure that narrowly passed last November, per Tandy.
“It is a positive step forward in terms of policing,” Tandy said.
Over three years, the city plans to hire 100 additional police officers and 56 civilian staffers. This year alone, the city will hire 43 officers and another 25 civilian staff members, according to Tandy. He said the new hires will greatly improve public safety.
“We hope for the response to be accelerated, particularly for part two and three crimes, which are significant when your home’s been burglarized, you want to see an officer, and you want to see them there promptly,” he said.
The funds will also go towards body cameras for each officer. Over two years, the city plans to hire additional 23 firefighters, including 11 this year.
The city also plans to purchase 20 new vehicles for parks and emergency response, and will create a rapid response team to help provide resources and housing for homeless.
But not everyone is fully on board. Michael Turnipseed of the Kern taxpayers Association said some of the plans were decided without first hearing from the public.
“A modern police force — I’m all for that, but I think you have to get good quality recruits, and it can’t be 100 percent public safety. Sorry,” he said. “We have too many other issues. They’ve already decided homeless will get this and that without any public input; this is just city staff saying this what it’s going to be. All this needs to be discussed in the open where the public can talk about it. On March 25 at the next public meeting, I hope the public shows up. I hope the public asks their questions,” he continued.
The oversight committee will meet next Monday to review further spending proposals. If you wish to keep up with the spending, the city’s website has a full list of measure n spending and expenses.