Former Chino Commissioner Asks For Strict Measure V Accounting

By Greg Marquez
On March 5th, Chino residents will vote on Measure V.   While many of my fellow neighbors are questioning whether they support increasing the sales tax, I am very concerned about how the Measure V money will be spent if it is approved.
The sales tax increase is named “Measure V the Public Safety, Roads and Essential Services Protection Measure.” However, the additional revenue will go into the general fund, with no oversight other than the council and city staff, and with no restrictions that the money will be spent on police, roads, and parks, despite the promotional propaganda. Other than legal and contractual obligations, all general fund expenditures are discretionary, subject to the whims of both present and future councils and staff. The self-proclaimed “fiscally responsible” city council declared a “fiscal emergency,” supposedly due to a $5.7 million shortfall and “projected” deficits over the next five years. In actuality, the declaration of an “emergency” was required by law in order to place this measure on the March ballot, at a cost of ~$400,000, rather than the November general election. The $5.7M shortfall would not exist except for the irresponsible expenditure of ~$6.45 million to purchase the Chino Landmark Theater, Champion offices/old post office, both unusable, and the Monte Vista Park house, now demolished, as well as $1.4 million to change the color of all the street name signs.
The city website and Measure V promotional materials state, “While Chino has witnessed anticipated revenue growth … each year, these gains are offset by rising costs associated with services labor, and the impact of increased inflation …” The truth is that, in the last 12 years, Chino sales tax revenue has increased by ~108% (doubled), while inflation was only ~36% and wages increased by only ~57%. No deficit there.
So, all this begs the question: What exactly does the city want this additional money for? Many people, including myself, predict that a substantial portion will be used to fund the Civic Center Master Plan, which was unanimously adopted by the city council in December of 2022. The wording in the ~$500,000 plan and city staff cited plumbing problems, that it was cheaper to tear down the entire campus and rebuild new rather than remodel, and that this project would revitalize the “downtown area.” Note that the previous 1982 and 1992 Central Avenue Specific Plan and downtown master plans failed to “revitalize” the area. Several public records requests and meetings with staff failed to produce any justification for tearing down these concrete and steel buildings.
This nearly one-half-billion-dollar plan includes a funding strategy to increase the sales tax rate exactly like Measure V, a very suspicious coincidence.  The master plan is available on the Chino website and includes, in the first phase, the demolition of the old fire station across from City Hall, another expensive suspicious coincidence. All appearances suggest that the city is already proceeding with the adopted plan, which would be the most exorbitant and unnecessary expenditure in Chino history.
The council needs to rescind the Civic Center Master Plan so that generations of taxpayer money does not go to waste. I will always support our police department and city staff, but our streets are dilapidated and unattractive. We have inadequate funding for parks and recreation facilities. What the city council wants and what the city actually needs are two completely different sets of goals. Unfortunately, Measure V does not guarantee, as it should have, that this sales tax increase will be spent on those specific needs of We The People. If people do not get involved and learn the facts, then decisions will be made for them, and agendas will be followed through with minimal debate, if any. Please vote wisely.

Greg Marquez is a former Chino Community Services Commissioner and 2022 candidate for city council in the city’s 2nd District. 

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