Measure N Oversight Committee recommends majority of $78 million proposed budget, takes issue with freeway landscaping proposal

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BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Members of the Measure N Citizens Oversight Committee Monday recommended that the Bakersfield City Council approve most of the proposed Measure N budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

If approved, the proposed budget — estimated at roughly $78 million — will invest in the police department, city fire department, and capital improvement projects, according to the budget proposal released by the city. The funding also will go toward addressing homelessness.

Funded by the Measure N one-cent sales tax passed by Bakersfield voters in 2018, the proposed budget includes $10 million for additional police positions including nine new police officers, eight senior police officers, six detectives, and five sergeants.

Also included: 30 new patrol vehicles, four police motorcycles, and one police service technician pickup truck.

$7 million will go toward economic improvement, including $3 million for revitalization projects. An additional $265,000 is allocated for the Brundage lane Navigation Center to ensure pet access and space.

“We filled our pet space very quickly and so we are working with local agencies to bring veterinary services to that facility,” said Bakersfield Assistant City Manager Jacqui Kitchen, noting the Measure has helped fund 320 affordable housing units since 2018.

The proposed budget also includes 10 new employees with the city Development Services Dept. and $5.2 million for local parks. Among the said funding, $500,000 will go toward assessing needs at MLK Park and the Silver Creek Community Center.

The Committee approved most of the proposed budget but did not recommend the Public Works portion of the budget which allocates more than $6 million for local highway landscaping.

Instead, some committee members, including Mitchell Rowland, called for those funds to go elsewhere.

“We just didn’t feel spending $6 million of the citizens’ money was what they wanted when they passed Measure N,” he said, noting earlier that he “would like to see Chester Avenue improved, Mill Creek bollard replacements, sidewalks improved, and crosswalks improved. Those are great projects,” he continued.

Committee Member Frederick Prince also said it’s important that underserved communities are not forgotten.

“We have the funds now to be able to make sure things are allocated to different parts of our community, so I would like to make sure certain parts of our community obtains equal share,” he said. “I think that’s important.”

City Manager Christian Clegg said the city is committed to all communities, and added the city will “do some follow-up.”

Committee members made clear they support the majority of the proposed budget; some expressed that they were impressed with the thorough city staff presentations at the meeting.

The proposed budget now goes to the Bakersfield City Council where council members will formally approve or reject it.

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