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Paso lays foundation for oversight of half-cent sales tax 

The Paso Robles City Council took great pains on Aug. 21 to convince citizens the city won’t misspend any money from a proposed supplemental sales tax, which is set to go to voters for approval in November. The public, however, remained surprisingly silent throughout the discussion of an oversight committee and use priorities.

“I’m very concerned about this, the perception of what we’re doing,” Mayor Duane Picanco said. “It’s important to have as much community involvement as possible.”

Four of the seven committee members will be nominated by community groups like the Chamber of Commerce or the Travel Paso Robles Alliance, and the remaining three will be recruited and vetted by the City Council. No appointments will be made until after the November election.

The committee is expected to review expenditures and make suggestions to city council members twice a year. None of their suggestions will be binding.

“This is a general use tax,” City Manager Jim App said. “No matter how much we’d like to assure people it’s for specific purposes, there’s no way to assure that.”

Still, council members designated road and public facility maintenance as the top priorities for the money. When the measure was first proposed for the ballot, Picanco wanted to restrict the money to be used for roads, but Councilman Fred Strong argued that more wiggle room was necessary, as the state already owed the city money for road repairs.

Some of that money came through on Aug. 20, and council members agreed to use it to re-paint faded striping on five roads, at Strong’s suggestion.

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