At its most recent meeting, the City Council of the City of Union City voted unanimously to approve Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci’s appointment of five members to the independent citizens’ oversight committee responsible for reviewing and reporting to the public on the city’s use of monies raised through voter-approved revenue measures.
Two local revenue measures approved by a majority of Union City residents over the last decade require the city to maintain an oversight committee composed of local residents to ensure funds are spent properly and as promised.
Measure AA, a general half-cent sales tax measure first approved by 60% of local voters in 2010 and renewed by 73% of local voters in 2014, provides approximately $5.5 million annually to the city to “prevent severe cuts and maintain essential services such as police, fire, paramedic, library, streets, parks and other services.”
Measure WW, a general 5% utility users’ tax on electricity, gas, video and telecommunication services, was approved by 57% of local voters in the November 2020 election. It provides an approximate $5.5 million each year to support essential services, including social services for youth, families and seniors. Measure WW provides funding that will allow the City to continue to provide services that were funded by the Public Safety Parcel Tax, which is set to expire in 2021.
For efficiency, the City Council appointed a single oversight committee to oversee and provide annual reports on the revenue and expenditures from both revenue measures.
“We are very fortunate to have five longtime Union City residents who know the needs of our city and understand our city budget that are willing to serve in this important oversight capacity,” said Mayor Carol Dutra-Vernaci. “We take delivering on our promises very seriously and these highly respected members of our community will make sure we do what we said we would do with the public’s money.”
The oversight committee is comprised of one representative from each of the city’s Human Relations Commission, Planning Commission, Parks and Recreation Commission, Senior Commission and one citizen member at-large. Oversight committee members will serve two-year terms and meet every six months to ensure funds are being spent to maintain service levels in accordance with the City Council's adopted budget. The committee will report its findings to the City Council at a public meeting annually.
The members appointed to serve the next two-year term are:
• Ray Gonzalez, Jr. from the Planning Commission
• Estrelita Munsayac from the Senior Commission
• Daniel Rivera from the Parks and Recreation Commission
• Kashmir Singh Shahi from the Human Relations Commission
• Robert Singer, Citizen Member At-large
“Real transparency is the foundation for building trust in the community,” said Robert Singer, the at-large community member appointed to the oversight committee. “I see our committee’s role as being a conduit for transparent information from City Hall to our city’s neighborhoods.”
In his professional life, Singer serves as the Director of Biostatistics at Exact Health in Redwood City. His strong background in numbers and statistics were attractive attributes for the appointment.
“When our community makes an investment in our safety and the quality of life in Union City, we deserve to know that our investment is being used as promised,” said Estrelita Munsayac, a 45-year Union City resident. “This oversight committee will provide an extra layer of accountability so our taxpayers can be confident that their hard-earned dollars are spent properly.”
The oversight committee will meet in late spring and establish a regular meeting and reporting schedule. Oversight committee reports will be published and archived on the city’s website at www.unioncity.org.