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September 10, 2008 > Watchdog Committee enforces accountability

Watchdog Committee enforces accountability

Submitted By Karen Stevenson

On August 13, 2008, the Alameda County Transportation Improvement Authority's (ACTIA) Citizens Watchdog Committee (CWC) released its Sixth Annual Report to the Public. The report notes that audited income and expenditures were in compliance with specific caps and that no accounting concerns were identified. Measure B, Alameda County's voter-approved half-cent sales tax for transportation improvements, produced $121.8 million in revenue for the 2006/2007 fiscal year, the focus of the Watchdog report.

Of this amount, $3.2 million has been set aside for future expenditures and $118.6 million was allocated to local jurisdictions, capital projects, and administration. Measure B funds transportation projects and programs. The Watchdog Committee was created in the language of Measure B on the 2000 ballot, through which voters reauthorized the local sales tax - originally created in 1986 - through 2022. Part of the committee's responsibility is to issue an annual report to voters and taxpayers reporting on how the sales tax funds are being spent.

Robert Raburn, Citizens Watchdog Committee Chair says, "One reason the ACTIA ballot measure achieved overwhelming support was the promise to entrust an independent Citizens Watchdog Committee to review all expenditures. If recent State budget cuts make construction delays necessary, our diligence guarantees that an open public review will take place to determine an equitable distribution of available funds."

The Watchdog report noted that Measure B projects depend on a variety of funds. Of the 27 projects, seven capital projects still required additional time to secure full funding or environmental clearance, beyond the initial required deadline. However, sponsors of these projects are optimistic that the environmental clearances will ultimately be received and that funding will materialize. Out of the seven capital projects, three are considered "of concern" due to funding uncertainties or failure to meet the required environmental clearance timelines.

Overall, the report indicates that ACTIA spent $118.6 million during the year that ended on June 30, 2007, as follows:

_$57.4 million (47.1% of revenues) for public transit, including operations, capital investments, and special transportation for seniors and the disabled:

$31.2 million (25.6% of revenues) for cities and the County to spend on local transportation, including local streets and roads, and bike and pedestrian projects

_$24.6 million (20.2% of revenues) for highway and street projects

_$5.4 million (4.5% of revenues) for administration

_$3.2 million (2.6% of revenues) dedicated for future expenditures

A fund balance of $111.0 million remains, including $107.8 million from previous years, which is designated for future capital and program expenditures. The total amount of Measure B funds involved in projects of concern (BART to Warm Springs, Route 92/Clawiter-Whitesell, and the Dumbarton Corridor Improvements) is $270.9 million. These projects are described as "of concern" because they depend on funding from state, federal, or other local governments that can be affected by the economy.

Visit ACTIA's web site to obtain a copy of:
CWC Sixth Annual Report to the Public
_Current Expenditure Plan
_Audits for both Measure B agencies

Copies are also available at the Authority's offices at 1333 Broadway, Suite 300, Oakland or by calling (510) 893.3347. Information regarding Measure B-funded program expenditures can be found on the website of each jurisdiction as well.

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