Council ponders police funding options

December 02, 2002 11:00 pm

By JASON ECK

Sonora City Council members plan to see if any state lawmaker would consider sponsoring a bill that would allow the city to place a sales tax measure to fund police services before city voters.

The council on Monday agreed, in the meantime, to have the city Finance Committee explore other options for the Police Department if no new funding sources are found.

The moves are in response to a rejection letter the council received Nov. 21 from Assemblyman Dave Cogdill (R-Modesto), whom the city had asked to sponsor a bill to allow voters to decide on a police tax measure.

City Administrator Greg Applegate asked the council for direction given Cogdill's stance. The city is looking for ways to generate more money for police salaries, benefits, equipment and office space.

Mayor Marlee Powell has written to Cogdill stating her disappointment with his decision not to help begin the legislative process to allow Sonora voters to "make the decision of law enforcement in their city."

Powell also said she had contacted the League of California Cities for advice and was told the city was "absolutely, positively out of luck" with Cogdill's carrying any tax-related legislation.

Powell said she would like the council to look for other legislators or committee members who would be interested in sponsoring a bill. The city needs special legislation passed before a sales tax initiative can go before voters.

Four of five council members and Applegate held a private meeting with Cogdill on Oct. 9, at which officials first asked Cogdill to consider sponsoring such legislation.

Council members said they left the meeting without a firm commitment from Cogdill, but felt confident he would support the measure.

"He needs to watch what he says around election time," Councilwoman Liz Bass said Monday.

Cogdill won re-election in November.

Bass said she is not optimistic that any other lawmaker will sponsor a bill for the city.

Councilmen Ron Stearn and Hank Russell disagreed.

"I think it's worth a try," Stearn said.