Should members of the Measure H Oversight Committee be limited to no more than six years of service?
Four members of the Ceres City Council debated that question on Monday. And they were split right down the middle.
The oversight committee was carved out in 2007 when Ceres voters approved the half-cent sales tax increase designated for police and fire services. The voters stipulated that the committee should determine if the tax proceeds are being spent where they are supposed to be. The measure called for a member to be limited to no more than two three-year terms. Those members could reapply for a position as long as they spent a term out.
City Attorney Mike Lyions asked the council to consider dismissing the term limit since two members - Randy Cerny and Kim Chapman - are due to be termed out and they want to continue serving.
The measure allows the council to dismiss the committee term limits but the council cannot adjust the tax rate.
Councilmember Linda Ryno said she likes the limits and feels others may wish to serve without fear of incumbents being automatically reappointed.
"I think it's a very important committee and I think that there probably are a lot of people who live in Ceres that are paying this tax that want to have a say in how their money is being spent," said Ryno. "I think it's great if these other members have stayed on for six years but again, I think there should be a term limit."
After further discussion, Lyions indicated that any member could continue to serve after a one-term hiatus, meaning Cerny and Chapman could rejoin the committee after sitting off for three years.
Ceres resident Leonard Shepherd, a member of the committee, recommended allowing members to be considered after applying "like everybody else."
"There may be some new blood that might give another aspect," said Shepherd.
Vice Mayor Bret Durossette said Cerny and Chapman were key players in getting Measure H to pass and then asked why the term limits were enacted. Lyions said the intent was likely due to the belief that the overseeing committee should "reflect different people after a certain length of time." He added that problems arise when there are no applicants for slots that become vacant.
"We aren't seeing a big outpouring of candidates who want to participate," said Art deWerk, Ceres police chief and acting city manager.
Durossette said experience on the committee is important and that he would hate to see the loss of both members.
Ryno continued her press for term limits.
"Again, I think it's very important that we involve the community in a committee that involves taxes that they're paying and I think there might be a lot more interest from the community than the council realizes."
She said she encountered people on the campaign trail who expressed interest in serving but feared the same people would be reappointed.
Councilman Ken Lane applauded the committee makeup, saying it has been fully transparent. He said he is okay with term limits falling off provided that members must reapply with others.
"As long as it's an open process ... and it gives an opportunity for anybody in this committee to apply ... I'm open to that," said Lane. "I think term limits really screwed up Sacramento myself."
Lane made a motion to dismiss term limits which was seconded by Durossette. The measure failed when it was opposed by Ryno and Mayor Chris Vierra.
Durossette then motioned to place the matter back before the full council when Mike Kline is present. That motioned passed 4-0.