Public Safety and Violence Prevention Funding Measure (Measure O)

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Join the City of Santa Rosa for a discussion about the future of funding for public safety and violence prevention services at an upcoming virtual or town hall meeting. To RSVP for one of our meetings please email communityengagement@srcity.org.

June 29: 6 p.m. - 7 p.m. (Virtual) Councilmember MacDonald, Councilmember Sawyer, and Councilmember Schwedhelm
Join the webinar online: https://srcity-org.zoom.us/j/82132204208
Or, by phone: (669) 219-2599 / Webinar ID: 821 3220 4208

In 2004, Santa Rosa voters approved Measure O to provide dedicated funding for public safety and for violence prevention programs in Santa Rosa. For the past 17 years these funds have been used to support fire protection, paramedics, rapid 9-1-1 emergency response, disaster preparedness, crime prevention, youth programs and police services. Funding for Measure O is set to expire in 2025.

Each year, an independent citizens’ oversight committee has reviewed the use of these funds and confirmed funds were spent appropriately for voter-approved public safety services. The most recent report of the oversight committee is available here. Unless renewed by voters, approximately $10 million in annual public safety funding will soon expire, which will require deep cuts to public safety services, youth programs and violence prevention initiatives in Santa Rosa. This current local quarter cent sales tax has provided dedicated public safety and violent prevention services funding, which added 25 cents to a $100 purchase.

Measure O Funds at Work for the Community

Currently over twenty-five firefighter, paramedic and police personnel positions are funded by Measure O. Additionally, Measure O funds more than 400,000 hours each year of youth and family mental health, public health, gang prevention and social services. Without Measure O funding these services for youth and families must be cut. Neighborhood fire stations will likely close, 9-1-1 emergency response times for fires, emergencies, accidents and violent crimes will also be slower.

Santa Rosa Police Department (SRPD) continues to handle an increasing number of calls each year. In 2020, SRPD received 203,455 calls for service, including 72,666 9-1-1 calls. Since its inception, Measure O funds are a critical part of the Police Department’s overall funding. These funds have allowed the SRPD to provide increased patrol services, respond to local emergencies and conduct enhanced traffic enforcement. Additionally, these funds have contributed to an increased presence in the downtown area with a substation in the transit mall.

Santa Rosa Fire Department has used Measure O funds for the construction and relocation of fire stations and hiring of paramedics and firefighters. Since 2005, three new fire stations were built with Measure O funds, Stations 5, 10, and 11. Additional funds are reserved for the future relocation of Station 8 (Roseland) or Station 9 (Southeast). Past and proposed fire station relocations are designed to place emergency response personnel and equipment close to key population centers to keep 9-1-1 emergency response times as quick as possible.

Measure O provides funding for the Santa Rosa Violence Prevention Partnership (The Partnership), which is a collaborative effort of over 50 organizations focused on a shared responsibility to strengthen youth and families and create safe and resilient neighborhoods through mobilizing and engaging parents, schools, community-based organizations, the faith community, business, government, and local law enforcement. Measure O funding also goes to the Neighborhood Services section of the City’s Recreation Division. The Recreation Division, with this funding, provides innovative youth development programming that serves at-risk, low-income, and homeless youth and families.

The Partnership also administers the CHOICE Grant Program, which receives funding from Measure O. Annually, the CHOICE Grant Program provides an average of $650,000 to $840,000 to local community-based organizations. From 2020 until present, nearly a million dollars has been awarded to local organizations supporting youth and families in Santa Rosa.

Renewing Local Public Safety Funding

The City is currently considering options for placing a measure on the ballot later this year to renew the existing local 1/4 cent sales tax that provides dedicated public safety and violence prevention funding. Continuing this funding for public safety through a local sales tax ensures that out-of-town visitors and shoppers also contribute to these local safety measures. Essential purchases like groceries and medicine are exempt from this sales tax to ensure it is not a burden to those on fixed or limited incomes.

A renewal measure would likely require the same strict fiscal accountability provisions as required by the current Measure O, including:

  • An independent citizens’ oversight committee, mandatory financial audits, and annual reports to the community
  • All money raised by a measure would be controlled locally and restricted to specific public safety and violence prevention programs
  • By law, the money could not be taken away by Sacramento or diverted to other purposes
  • None of the money could be used for City administrator salaries
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