Is the Town Council required to engage with the Finance Commission before responding to emergencies like pandemic or a wildfire?
No. This is an outlandish and false claim made by the two sole naysayers. There is nothing in Measure A that requires the Council to engage the Finance Commission before they meet or act. The Town Attorney’s Impartial Analysis and the legislative intent of Measure A which says, “the People of Los Gatos do not wish to interfere with the budgetary or processes of the Town Council” makes this very clear. If Measure A did what the opposition is suggesting, namely restrict the ability of the Council to act or abrogate their legal responsibilities to make financial decisions, it would violate state law and the Town Attorney’s Impartial Analysis would say so. It does not. Do not be misled by this bogus claim.
Why does Measure A merge the Sales Tax Oversight Committee duties into the Finance Commission?
Measure A will fix a broken and non-functioning Sale Tax Oversight Committee by merging the Sales Tax Oversight Committee duties into the newly established 7 person Finance Commission. When Measure G (Sales Tax Measure) was approved by voters in November 2018, the measure “required independent Citizen Oversight to ensure funds are spent in furtherance of Town Objectives” such as improving traffic flow, repairing potholes and enhancing local crime prevention programs. The Town Council originally passed a resolution creating a 7-person Oversight Committee and mandated, among other things, that the Committee meet two times each year. This was never fully implemented. Today, the oversight committee has only 2 people and has met one time in two years. This is not oversight and is not what Measure G mandated. Measure A will permanently fix this problem by transferring these duties to a highly qualified Finance Commission thus reducing bureaucracy by eliminating a broken and non-functioning committee and more importantly implement the oversight function mandated by Measure G.
Why should Los Gatos voters support Measure A?
The Los Gatos Town Council could benefit from expert financial advice. Most elected officials are not financial experts and do not come from a background in finance. Voting Yes on A creates a non-paid, advisory-only Finance Commission, allowing highly qualified Los Gatos residents with extensive professional experience in business, economics or finance to lend their expertise to the Town.
How does Measure A reduce bureaucracy and increase transparency?
Measure A combines two commissions into one, streamlining financial decision-making for the Council by providing outside expert advice. Measure A will also allow the Finance Commission budgetary review, increasing transparency into the Town’s financial decisions and budgeting process.
Would the Measure A Finance Commission serve in an advisory role to the Council?
Yes. The Finance Commission would not be paid and could only offer financial advice to the Council. Measure A does not supplant the Council’s decision-making power. It simply offers the Council access to financial expertise, should they need it.
Why does the Town Council need outside expert financial advice?
As of June 30, 2014 the total for the safety and miscellaneous plans was $33.6m. As of June 30, 2019 it was $62.9m. That is an 87% increase (or $30m) in that 5 year period. Moody’s, the leading credit rating agency in the country has independently computed the unfunded pension liability as of June 30, 2019 to be $150m. We should point out that the other valuations were computed by CALPERS.
Will the Town Council remain accountable to Los Gatos voters?
Yes. Measure A does not take away any legal authority from the Council, which will remain accountable to local voters when it comes to budgetary and fiscal decisions. Measure A simply increases the number of highly qualified residents providing expert guidance to the Council so they can better serve our Town. If Measure A is approved, each councilmember will appoint a Los Gatos resident to the Finance Commission. Potential candidates will be vetted by Council just as they have been in the past.
Do other cities and towns have similar finance commissions?
Yes. Measure A takes best practices from California’s best-managed cities to improve transparency and fiscal responsibility in Los Gatos. Finance commissions bring proven results, providing important guidance regarding budgetary decisions, financial policies and fiscal accountability.
Will Finance Commission meetings be public?
Yes, members of the public will be able to attend Finance Commission meetings. Plus, all binding financial decisions will still be left to the Town Council, which ultimately is accountable to the voters.
How are resident commissioners appointed to the Finance Commission?
The Town has a long standing Council policy which defines the appointment procedures, responsibilities and actions of the applicant, the Town Clerk and Town Council. If Measure A is approved, all current appointment procedures, responsibilities and actions would remain the same with one change: each Council member would appoint one applicant to the Finance Commission. This is to ensure diversity of views on the Commission and increases the accountability of Council members in the appointment process.
Why does Los Gatos need term limits?
Term limits increase voter choice, encourage more candidates to run and provide better opportunities for more residents. Additionally, research shows that term limits increase the diversity of the backgrounds of those elected. Voting Yes on B will make Los Gatos elections fair and more competitive.
How does Measure B level the playing field?
Our current system favors incumbents who have served for years. By limiting Town Council members to two consecutive four-year terms, Measure B gives new leaders increased opportunities to represent us.
Are term limits a common practice in our area?
Yes, they are incredibly common. Of the fifteen cities in Santa Clara County, twelve have term limits for their elected officials. Enforcing term limits in Los Gatos would help our town join the rest of the County in enacting good governance reform.