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Sales tax helps pay for park upgrades
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Two years ago, the City of Lathrop used funds generated from Measure C – the one-cent sales tax increase approved by voters to supplement public safety and other community projects – to overhaul three of the city’s most heavily-used parks. 

And now they’re doing something similar to help give residents who want to enjoy time outdoors an experience they’ll enjoy. 

On Monday, the Lathrop City Council voted unanimously to use funds from Measure C to purchase and install a drinking fountain at Sangalang Park, a pair of concrete benches along Harlan Road and a picnic area and barbecue pit at Woodfield Park – passing on the chance to use funds from the Stonebridge Lighting and Landscape District fund in order to maintain uniformity in the approach. 

The total cost of the three upgrades will be just over $23,000, and the appropriation of the funds still has to be approved by the Measure C oversight committee before the purchase can be made. 

While the option existed to use either Measure C funds or money from the landscape maintenance district for the project at Sangalang Park and Harlan Road, the Woodfield landscape district – which was formed much earlier – did not have a built-in inflation escalator and currently has no balance. According to City Manager Steve Salvatore, without the escalator that is now standard in other new developments, the fund is unable to generate enough money to replace aging equipment or install new equipment, and a supplement from the general fund is needed. Discussion have been had in the past, Salvatore said, about the possibility of adding an escalator, but council has previously decided against it because it would raise the taxes of homeowners who live within that district. 

In the eyes of Vice Mayor Paul Akinjo, using money from the general fund – Measure C is still classified as general fund money – for Woodfield and not the other two landscape districts would be unfair to those residents who are paying more in order to ensure that those improvements are financially feasible. Akinjo also noted that he believes the council should begin considering adding restrooms at all parks after the Hepatitis outbreak in San Diego that has killed 19 people and infected more than 500. According to public health experts, that outbreak has been largely contained within the homeless population in Southern California as well as IV drug users, and San Diego officials have authorized the sanitation of streets as a way to prevent the spread of the disease – which is believed to have been spread largely in part by a lack of restroom facilities amongst the homeless. 

The equipment that is slated to be purchased will be uniform with other Lathrop parks in appearance, and will be heavy duty for long-term use – the benches constructed of poured concrete and bolted into the ground along Harlan Road, and the same picnic tables that are currently in use at the Lathrop Generations Center will be added to Woodfield Park. The drinking fountain at Sangalang Park will also have a separate spout for people to fill water bottles. 

Mayor Sonny Dhaliwal made the request that a barbecue be added to Woodfield Park, and the additional expenditure – believed to be roughly $750 – was approved by the council. 

To contact reporter Jason Campbell email or call 209.249.3544.