You may not remember this one. Measure R was the idea of Council Member Oliver Baines a few years ago. The “R” stood for Restore.
The Great Recession was just beginning to ease up. Still, the city coffers were far from flush. Services were being cut left and right. Perhaps more maddening, capital assets (things like buildings and parks and equipment) weren’t getting their normal maintenance.
City Hall was giving a whole new meaning to “deferred” in “deferred maintenance.”
Baines’ idea was a boost to the local sales tax similar to what we did with the zoo. The tax bump would bring in millions, and do so immediately. Streets, curbs, gutters, street lights, tree-trimming, parks, community centers, swimming pools, Convention Center, police, fire – the list of places to spend Measure R money was long.
“We don’t have a spending problem,” Baines said often from the dais. “We have a revenue problem.”
Measure R never got the necessary traction to get on the ballot.
The Great Recession is gone. The city’s general fund this year passed the $300 million mark for the first time. But that $300 million has plenty of special interests chewing on it. And that list of reduced services/deferred maintenance remains long.
Would Fresno be best served by restoring Baines’ Measure R to the public debate? If the answer by the new mayor is no, then our Restoration dreams will be decades in the making.