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The discussion on how best to spend proceeds from Ventura’s new sales tax starts in earnest on Saturday during a special city meeting.
In Novembers, voters approved a half-cent sales tax, which goes into effect in April. The city will get its first payment in July, Mayor Erik Nasarenko said. City finance officials projected the money would bring in $10.8 million annually.
“We’ll begin to have a substantive discussion on how to implement Measure O, what will be our chief priorities in the months to come,” he said. “Consistent with what we told voters in the ballot statement, our key spending priorities will be public safety, city infrastructure, addressing homelessness and stormwater capture.”
That last item is particularly important in light of the recent rains, he said. Capturing the runoff before it goes into the Pacific Ocean is key.
The council will also be talking about the citizen oversight committee, a 7-member board that will look at the tax's proposed and after-the-fact spending, and offer non-binding recommendations during budget talks. The council will talk about the length of terms, how to appoint the members and other related operating items.
The city's sales tax is currently 7 1/2 cents. That will change to 8 cents on April 1.
The council will also revisit its goals, something it does every year. Its five current goals are: ensuring long-term fiscal responsibility, creating and maintaining economic development and vitality, delivering core systems (like police and roads), the city’s safe and clean public places initiative and enhancing public trust.
Also during the meeting, officials will discuss council protocols.  The changes include eliminating the requirement that the council approve out-of-state travel and allow for the mayor, rather than the council, cancel meetings.
"A lot of them are general housekeeping and trying to make sure what we do is consistent with (existing) protocols," City Manager Mark Watkins said.
Saturday's meeting starts at 9 a.m. in the training room of the Ventura Police Department at 1425 Dowell Drive.