Public Safety and Violence Prevention Funding Measure

In 2004, Santa Rosa voters approved a measure 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.

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.

Renewing Local Public Safety Funding

On July 26, the City Council unanimously placed a measure on the November 8, 2022, ballot 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.

The renewal measure will require the same strict fiscal accountability provisions as required by the current measure, including:

  • An independent citizens’ oversight committee, mandatory financial audits, and annual reports to the community
  • All money raised by the 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

Voter-Approved Funds at Work for the Community

Currently over twenty-five firefighter, paramedic and police personnel positions are funded by this expiring public safety sales tax. Additionally, Measure O has funded more than 400,000 hours each year of youth and family mental health, public health, gang prevention and social services. Without this local 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, local sales tax funding has been 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.

The Santa Rosa Fire Department currently has 10.25 positions paid for via Measure O. This equates to the personnel required to staff a fire station full time. Measure O also pays for 15 of the Fire Department Paramedic positions, allowing five of the twelve on-duty fire apparatus to be Advanced Life Support staffed and equipped. Santa Rosa Fire Department has used local sales tax funds to construct and relocate fire stations. Since 2005, three new fire stations have been built with these 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 has purchased fire engines, a wildland fire engine, command vehicles, swift water rescue equipment, and communications equipment.

The expiring voter-approved sales tax also 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. This 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 the local public safety sales tax. 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.

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