Santa Monica Lookout
Facing Budget Crunch, Santa Monica Looks to Voters for Project Funding
By Jason Islas
August 26, 2013 -- The Santa Monica City Council Tuesday is expected to greenlight work on a ballot measure that would help the City secure funding to finish projects delayed in the face of a budget shortfall.
At the top of its upcoming meeting, the City Council will vote on whether to approve a $27,800 contract with Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates (FM3), a California-based polling firm, to survey Santa Monica residents about a possible measure the City hopes to place on the 2014 ballot.
The City is considering going to the ballot box to help fund several major public infrastructure rehabilitation projects that have been on hold since last year after California axed redevelopment agencies (RDAs) throughout the State, leaving Santa Monica without the tens of millions of dollars a year it was banking on for those projects.
Faced with the loss of that money, City officials had to decide how best to use the resources left to them, focusing on “high impact projects.”
Those “high impact” projects include the Pico Branch Library, the Colorado Esplanade and the Early Education Childhood Center, all of which were slated to received RDA funding before the agency was shut down.
But finance is a zero-sum game and moving funds into those projects to make up for the loss of RDA money meant that other projects would have to be put on ice.
“(A)ffordable housing, the construction of a new Fire Station I and seismic rehabilitation of Fire Station 3, updated safety communications equipment, and the reconstruction of the Corporation Yards, remain unfunded,” City officials said.
As a result, the City will turn to the voters.
“The City requires the services of a professional public opinion research firm to gauge the public’s opinion on potential ballot measures related to capital project and affordable housing funding,” they said.
Part of FM3's job will be to determine not only if voters would be likely to pass a measure, but also what kind of measure they would be most likely to pass.
Before the measures were drafted, the City Council tapped FM3 to gauge public opinion.
Most recently, the voters approved a $385 million bond measure, assuring that Santa Monica schools had money for capital projects.
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