With primary day less than three weeks away, Escalon officials are gearing up for their informational session on Measure S.
Community residents are encouraged to attend the Thursday night, Feb. 13 meeting at the Escalon Community Center, beginning at 6:30 p.m.
Main topic for the night will be Measure S, which will be on the March 3, 2020 primary election ballot and would be a designated Police Services Tax for the City of Escalon.
As proposed by the Escalon City Council, the measure would enact a half-cent sales tax and all proceeds would go to the police department.
With paving work being done this week at the Community Center, City Manager Tammy Alcantor said those planning to attend can park across the street, in the area off Arthur Road between the Community Center and Escalon Covenant Church, and there is also some parking available by the covered barbecue area adjacent to the Community Center.
“People will be able to walk on the pavement but we don’t want cars parking there yet because the pavement will be curing,” Alcantor explained.
She added that officials are planning to begin the 6:30 p.m. session by providing on overview of what Measure S would mean, in terms of financial impact on consumers and the benefits it can provide for the police department.
Escalon Police Chief Mike Borges said he will be in attendance as well and will be able to answer questions from the crowd and provide any clarification needed.
“We’ll also open it up for a Q&A and then to other topics,” Alcantor added of the community session.
Officials estimate that, if approved, Measure S will generate about $280,000 annually to help supplement the police department budget. In advance of the community meeting, the city also sent out an informational flyer detailing the specifics of Measure S.
The money raised through the half-cent sales tax would be used for maintaining and enhancing staffing levels as well as funding police training, capital, equipment and operating budgets. License plate readers, new radar systems, adding a code enforcement and a traffic enforcement officer are all goals for putting the sales tax revenue into action.
Mayor Robert Swift initially brought the sales tax idea to the council as a way to assist the police department and enhance public safety. The sales tax was seen as the most efficient way to raise funds. For example, the half-cent sales tax would add an additional half-cent to the cost of $1 in taxable goods, a nickel more on a $10 taxable goods purchase and 50 cents more on a taxable goods purchase of $100. Any taxable purchases made in the community – including by those just passing through on their way to Yosemite or the Bay area in addition to local residents – would be contributing to the tax.
The 2018-19 city budget included a 54 percent share of the total budget for Public Safety; the tax revenue would further enhance that spending.
As far as the police department goes, Chief Borges noted that his officers had a very busy day on Sunday, Feb. 9 – when high winds buffeted the area – and they responded to several reports of downed tree limbs and power lines, along with a report of a PG&E power pole coming down, resulting in a loss of power in parts of the city. The police, fire crews and Public Works personnel were busy responding to the variety of calls, which also included some reports of traffic signs blowing about and concerns with the traffic signals malfunctioning at the main Highway 120-Escalon-Bellota-McHenry Avenue intersection.
One accident was reported in that intersection, though officials said one subject with a possible injury refused treatment at the scene.