Daily Republic // Dec. 16, 2005
By Ian Thompson
SUISUN CITY – Agree with them or not, local leaders admit council watchers are a necessary part of government.
“We don’t always agree with them but they are always another point to consider,” Fairfield Mayor Harry Price said. “They serve a very useful purpose in local government making certain that taxpayer interests are well-presented.”
Taxpayers group representatives such as Vern Van Buskirk or Roy Stripe of Fairfield, George Guynn of Suisun City or Jim Williams of Vacaville are “not at all shy bout sharing their observations, points of view and the determination that local government serve the people,” he added.
“They play a very important role,” said Suisun City’s Mayor Jim Spering of those residents who make it a point of following city business. “If I had my preference, it would be nice to have the council chamber full.”
Their input at the mike ensures the council “takes the time o make sure what you are doing is correct and that you are doing it in the best interests of the people,” Spering said.
Mayor Len Augustine of Vacaville agreed that taxpayer watchdogs are necessary, but even they can overstep their bound as what he felt was the case with this city’s recent utility tax measure.
While the Vacaville-based Solano County Taxpayers Association supported the measure to keep a utility tax in place, the Fairfield-based Central Solano Citizens/Taxpayers Group opposed it.
“They (the Vacaville-based group) had the good common sense in understanding how we spend our money,” said Augustine, referring to the $3.5 million generated by the tax to support city services.
The council watchers have the right to ask questions and ensure Vacaville is spending its month wisely, Augustine said.
“We don’t want to waste money, whether we are watched or not,” Augustine said.
There is an upper limit to how often elected officials get questioned. Those who speak on every item tend not to get the same attention as those less frequent speakers who save their time before the council for specific issues.
“When a new person shows up, the council perks up and they listen more,” Spering said.