Minority council votes still consistent with Measure U mandate
■ Chris Smith / Advisory Editor
Hemet Mayor Michael Perciful issued a statement this week following the City Council’s passage of the 2018-2019 budget clarifying his and Mayor Pro Tem Karlee Meyer’s votes on the use of Measure U funds.
Perciful took issue with press coverage of the budget discussion saying that it was never made clear in published reports that both he and Meyer believe that the original proposed budget presented by City Manager Allen Parker was consistent with both the intent and language of Measure U, an assertion confirmed at the time by City Attorney Eric Vail during special council budget meetings.
The original budget proposal that he and Meyer preferred included approximately $1.7 million in Measure U funds to help close a $3.4 million gap in next year’s budget. What wasn’t made clear, Perciful says, is the fact that the Measure U portion was equivalent to the money the council spent on raises for police and fire immediately following passage of the voter-approved tax measure.
“If Measure U hadn’t passed, the city would not have been able to grant those raises, which were needed to attract new officers,” Perciful says. “Therefore, using Measure U money to backfill those expenses for salary increases that we needed to make Hemet’s public safety compensation competitive with other cities, to me, only makes sense.”
The concern that the city was beginning to dip into Measure U funds for expenditures other than public safety were unfounded, says Perciful, noting that the money was never being considered for such expenses as road repair or any other needs the city might have.
The budget eventually was passed by council on a 3-2 vote but cut city funding for training, equipment replacement, and new hires, among other things, instead of using the Measure U funds – an option that was opposed by the Measure U Oversight Committee.