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Volunteers sought for Lathrop tax oversight

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POSTED January 11, 2013 12:01 a.m.

LATHROP – Fiscal watchdogs and community activists will soon have their chance to play a role in providing budgetary oversight for Lathrop’s one-cent sales-tax increase.

In layman’s terms – the first step in forming the citizen’s oversight committee has already been taken.

On Monday the Lathrop City Council approved a timeline that will open a window for applications that will ultimately determine the five people that will comprise the panel.  It will be responsible for making sure that the estimated $1.2 million collected annually is spent in accordance with what the voters approved.

And some people have already shown interest in being considered.

Several applications have already been received by the City Clerk and will be included with those that start rolling in when the official application window opens on Feb. 5. The window will close on Feb. 26. It will technically be up to Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal to sort through those received and determine the best candidates for the job.

The council as a whole will make the final decision shortly thereafter so that the group is in place when the tax goes into effect on April 1.

More than 77 percent of voters approved the one-cent sales tax that was presented as a way to make sure that community programs aren’t slashed due to budget concerns.

Public safety also comprised a big part of the push towards getting it passed. The Lathrop-Manteca Fire District’s rank-and-file walked door-to-door to educate the public about the measure. The fire district will get 40 percent of the proceeds to reinstate firefighters that were laid off after the economic downturn drastically slashed the district’s funding.

Several additional stipulations, however, are being applied to the community oversight process.

Councilman Steve Dresser said he wants to make sure that those that are approved best represent the geographic layout of the city. With Interstate 5 splitting the community virtually in half, Dresser said that those who are tapped shouldn’t all be from one area so that the interests of everybody are best served.

Implementation agreements with the State Board of Equalization have already been filed which formally put the wheels for collection into motion.

Those that are interested in being a part of the oversight committee, per the request of councilman Omar Ornelas, will be able to pick up an application at City Hall or the Senior Center. Applications can also be downloaded from the city’s website at www.ci.lathrop.ca.us.

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