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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

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Guest Opinion: Do voters have short memory? Some candidates are counting on it.


Tim Schaefer speaks at a rally opposing Measure M in 2020, held outside City Hall. // CH Sentinel

By Tim Schaefer–
As I watched the Citrus Heights Chamber of Commerce Candidates Forum last month, City Council Candidate MariJane Lopez-Taff brought up the Citrus Heights Police Department budget cuts that were included in the 2021/22 budget that was passed by a 3-2 vote. Then-Mayor Steve Miller, Vice Mayor Porsche Middleton and Councilmember Jeanie Bruins voted in favor of the budget cuts while Councilmember Bret Daniels and I voted to oppose the cuts.

City Council Candidate Natalee Price echoed Mrs. Lopez-Taff’s observation. However, former council member and City Council Candidate Al Fox, claiming that he is the most experienced on the panel, said “I don’t think we ever de-funded the Police Department.” Mr. Fox is either misinformed, out of touch or simply hasn’t been paying attention.

It doesn’t matter if you call it “budget cuts” or “de-funding”, the result is the same. That very controversial vote  collapsed critical units in the Police Department that directly affected our public safety, the safety of our school age children and the quality of life in Citrus Heights.

The following month after the passing the budget that cut the CHPD funding by $3M, the Council allocated $5.3M to CHPD. But unfortunately, the damage had already been done. Chief  Lawrence and City Manager Boyd had already collapsed the Traffic, School Resource Officers (aka SRO), Gang and Problem Oriented Police (a.k.a POP) units. After 18 months of CHPD has restored a dedicated Traffic enforcement unit.

Councilmember Daniels and I implored the rest of the Council not to accept the budget that included these cuts.

In the final review after year end, the City had $6.2M more revenues than anticipated, resulting in a $3.6M budget surplus. No budget crisis ever existed.

Prior to news about the surplus, it was clear to me and Councilmember Daniels that the numbers did not add up. Yet our current Mayor, Porsche Middleton was so committed to this false narrative that she lead the Yes on Measure M Campaign. Helping raise more than $47,000 in an attempt to raise the taxes of everyone that lives and shops in Citrus Heights.

Believe what you like, but I believe the cuts and consolidation of CHPD critical police units were nothing more than retaliation for the failure of Measure M in 2020, the City’s attempt at adding a never-ending 1% sales tax in Citrus Heights.

Tim Schaefer

So, this week the ballots are being mailed to voters. I ask that voters remember the actions of their elected council members and make an informed, mindful decision. We need city council members and school board trustees that are loyal to their constituents and not to special interest groups or executive staff.

Tim Schaefer is currently serving as Vice Mayor of the City of Citrus Heights. He can be contacted at: tschaefer@citrusheights.net.

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