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Fresno State Tax Oversight Committee Members Would Be Paid up to $81K a Year
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By Edward Smith
Published 10 months ago on
June 27, 2023

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With the Measure E Redux petition being circulated beginning Monday, Fresno County residents got their first glimpse at the language of the .25% sales tax measure.

The new Measure E language sets its oversight members at the salary of a senior board member assistant with Fresno County, which ranges from $66,274 to $80,574. For a five-year position, that could amount to $331,370. For seven board members over the 25-year life of the sales tax, that total could be $12 million.

And a look at the Citizen’s Oversight Committee shows a board possibly paid as much as $80,574 each annually.

Signature gathering for the Fresno State Improvement Zone Measure — began Monday, said Tim Orman, general consultant for the campaign.

Orman said they need to collect at least 21,909 signatures before the middle of September in order to qualify the $1.4 billion proposal for the March primary ballot.

Last year, they collected 39,000 in 53 days, Orman said. But after qualifying for the ballot, county voters rejected the first Measure E, 52.86% to 47.14%.

Orman said he expects to have signatures by early September if not sooner.

The Fresno County Clerk/Registrar of Voter’s office will have to verify signatures. If more than 110% of the required names are turned in, then only a random sample needs to be done. While that process could take 30 business days, Orman said it is more likely to take five to 10 days.

Below 110%, the process will take the full 30 business days or six weeks, Orman said.

Most Oversight Committee Members Not Paid At All

Much like other sales tax measures, the second Measure E attempt creates an oversight committee for funding.

Oversight committee members for Measures B, P, and Z are not paid. Measure C board members receive a $75 reimbursement for each meeting, which is six times a year. Mike Leonardo, executive director of the Fresno County Transportation Authority, said he would like to have members of the citizen’s oversight committee get a stipend each meeting to cover the cost of transportation.

But the new Measure E language sets its oversight members at the salary of a senior board member assistant with Fresno County, which ranges from $66,274 to $80,574. For a five-year position, at the low-end of that range, that equals $331,370. That is $402,870 at the high end. For seven board members over the 25-year life of the sales tax, that total could be between $12 million and $14.1 million.

Ultimately, the measure allows members to decide their own compensation, whether that be per diem or a monthly stipend.

“We want to attract people who are going to put the time into this and have the expertise to make good decisions,” Orman said.

Oversight Committee Work More Extensive Than Most

Because the oversight committee would be working on a state facility, getting projects approved takes more work. Projects have to be approved by the California State University system, the Division of the State Architect, and the Office of the State Fire Marshal.

For that reason, figuring out how to finance projects will take extra work, Orman said.

Projects will come from the project list published by the Yes On E group. Fresno State will approve which projects and the oversight committee will approve funding based on cash flow and funding, Orman said. That’s the reason two of the seven board members are chosen by university representatives.

The seven board members would serve five-year terms until the measure expires 25 years after it begins. The Fresno County Board of Supervisors will select five members. The Fresno State president will select one member, and the California State University Chancellor will select the seventh member.

Citizen review boards have varying levels of power. Measure Z’s Citizen Authority Board votes to approve projects presented by the zoo staff. The Citizen Review Board for the Fresno County Public Library’s Measure B reviews spending and offers feedback on projects.

The oversight committee can also recommend hiring local contractors for projects. Ultimately, bidding for projects will be left to Fresno State.

Major Donors More Varied this Time

In 2022, developer Richard Spencer of Harris Construction funded the measure largely on his own.

This time, the sales tax measure has three major donors listed, including Lou and Jane Amendola, founder of Valley Wide Beverage, under Amendola Investments II, LLC, concrete company Outback Materials, and Harris Farms.

Orman said donors listed gave at least $50,000 to the campaign.

Measure E Redux Project List

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Edward Smith,
Multimedia Journalist
Edward Smith began reporting for GV Wire in May 2023. His reporting career began at Fresno City College, graduating with an associate degree in journalism. After leaving school he spent the next six years with The Business Journal, doing research for the publication as well as covering the restaurant industry. Soon after, he took on real estate and agriculture beats, winning multiple awards at the local, state and national level. You can contact Edward at 559-440-8372 or at Edward.Smith@gvwire.com.

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