WatchSonoma Watch

Santa Rosa City Council sets range for police funding


Santa Rosa got an early start to its annual budget battles Tuesday, with some of the newest faces on the council driving a lengthy and often confusing debate about funding for next year’s Police Department budget.

Ultimately, the council unanimously agreed to allow the department to fall $1.1 million to $1.6 million below a budget level set by the formula established when voters passed Measure O in 2004, the quarter-cent sales tax for enhanced public safety services and gang prevention programs.

Santa Rosa PoliceBut getting to that point was a challenge for the council, which has three new members and several veteran council members who are strongly divided on funding for public safety.

City Manager Kathy Millison was asking the council to agree to pass later this year a 2013/2014 budget for the Police Department was would be no lower than about $42.3 million, or $1.1 million below the so-called baseline established in Measure O.

The exact figures are not available yet because the baseline won’t be set until it is adjusted upward, as it is every year regardless of the city’s finances, by the consumer price index. That formula has created a scenario where the city is unable to meet the ever-escalating baseline levels without steep cuts to other departments.

But council members Julie Combs and Gary Wysocky balked, saying they were uncomfortable agreeing to the $1.1 million level without more information. They suggested they might prefer the department get less money. The measure needed six votes to pass.

Combs said she didn’t want to agree to an increase to the Police Department without considering it in the context of the needs of other departments.

“Some of our city departments are essentially anorexic,” Combs said. “They have been dieted to death.”

She strongly suggested that she would prefer to see additional general fund dollars go toward the city’s economic development department, which she noted is charged with one of the city’s highest priorities but runs on a budget of less than $400,000.

“I’m trying to hang on to $500,000 for another project. What can I say?” Combs said.

Police Chief Tom Schwedhelm explained that he would spend the additional $1.1 million on rebuilding the community policing team, having more officers perform background checks, and hiring additional community service officers for functions such as graffiti removal.

Mayor Scott Bartley suggested it would be inappropriate for the council to push the funding level lower than the $1.1 million below baseline.

“I think we run a real risk of ignoring the will of the voters,” Bartley said.

But new Councilwoman Robin Swinth forged a comprise that, after much debate, found full council support. She proposed the range of between $1.1 million and $1.6 million below baseline, with the understanding that Millison would in her upcoming budget show clearly how other council priorities are being met.

You can reach Staff Writer Kevin McCallum at 521-5207 or kevin.mccallum@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter @citybeater

4 Responses to “Santa Rosa City Council sets range for police funding”

  1. Grapevines says:

    Here is a story about our tax money being well spent!

    A local Bay Area Judge, accused of felony crimes eight months ago, continues to get his nearly $200,000 a year paycheck even though he isn’t performing any actual work.

    Yes. Our government “leaders” and the farce of a “justice system” …..

    SF Chronicle (online)
    March 10, 2013

    “” It’s been eight months since Judge Paul Seeman went on leave from the Alameda County Superior Court bench after being charged with bilking an elderly woman out of her life savings – and he’s still collecting his $179,000-a-year salary.”"

    “”Seeman, as we reported back in July, is entitled to his paycheck – regardless of whether he works – until he’s been convicted of a crime.”"

    Read more:


    Thumb up 3 Thumb down 2

  2. Grapevines says:

    Could the illegal turns have been done by the following criminal with badge?

    This was in the Press Demo this morning.

    “”A Sonoma County correctional deputy was in custody Wednesday on suspicion of molesting a teenager.

    Stanley Tyrone Bragg, 42, was being held at the Sonoma County Jail where he has worked since 2006, Assistant Sheriff Randall Walker said.

    Santa Rosa police arrested Bragg Feb. 27 on suspicion of committing lewd and lascivious acts with a child of 14 or 15 years, as a person at least 10 years older than the child, as well as willfully harming or injuring a child, Santa Rosa Police Sgt. Terry Anderson said.”"


    Thumb up 2 Thumb down 2

  3. Snarky says:

    I own a property near the intersection of Fulton Road / Guernville Road in Santa Rosa.

    I have to visit it monthly to deal with various matters.

    TWICE I have seen the SRPD motorcycle cops illegally turn into and out of the shopping center there.

    In the first instance, two of the boys in blue were headed northbound on Fulton Road and illegally turned across the barriers into the parking lot where I watched them head for the pancake house.

    In the second instance, just recently, I observed the two motorcycle cops exiting that shopping center and again illegally cross through the concrete barriers as they rode northbound.

    Message to the Chief of Police of Santa Rosa, CA. You need to instruct your motorcycle officers that they are REQUIRED to obey all traffic laws just the same as everyone else unless they are on a dispatch or in pursuit.

    The pancake house isn’t an official excuse to make illegal turns despite their badges. You know. I know it.

    Pass the word.

    If anyone else sees those two motorcycle officers do that, copy down their license numbers and make an issue of it with the City Council. Its not hard. The police WILL obey the traffic laws just like the rest of us. IF they refuse, they are merely criminals hiding behind their badges.

    Thumb up 6 Thumb down 11

  4. GAJ says:

    That image in the story must be old of the moto cops.

    They’re retiring the perfectly functional BMW motorcycles pictured for brand spanking new Kawasaki models.

    The old models topped out around 130, these are good for 150 if not more.

    Just what a tiny town like Santa Rosa needs, moto cops on bikes that can do 150.

    I can see the CHP having a use for a rocket bike, but town cops??

    Some towns have actually switched to electric motorcycles that top out at about 100.

    Thumb up 16 Thumb down 3

Leave a Reply