A new jail and more children’s programs are the two selling points that Measure Y supporters are stressing for the June 7 sales tax ballot measure.
They held the kickoff for the campaign Thursday evening in the plaza at the Historic Napa Mill. A few dozen people attended.
“It’s going to mean a lot for our community and our kids,” Measure Y campaign manager Sara Cakebread said.
Measure Y would raise the sales tax by a quarter-cent and generate an estimated $8 million annually for the county general fund. The Board of Supervisors has announced its intention to use the money to finance a $68 million funding shortfall for a planned, new $103 million, 256-bed jail along Highway 221 near the Syar quarry.
The Board on March 8 agreed that extra tax money could be spent on children’s programs. That headed off a possible November ballot initiative spearheaded by Cakebread and other children’s advocates to force the county to spend a certain portion of its budget on children.
It also gained enthusiastic backers for Measure Y, such as Cakebread.
“It’s a grassroots campaign, to say the least,” Cakebread said. “But we’re doing our best to piece together some fundraising to see if we can get this thing to pass.”
The campaign has about $60,000, she said. It will include sending a mailer to targeted voters, putting up signs and doing some robocalls. If Cakebread’s fundraising dreams come true, there would be money for television advertisements.
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County Supervisor Keith Caldwell told the gathering that a new jail would provide space for the types of programs that can reduce recidivism. The county wants to address the issues that keep inmates from being productive members of society and not just build places to house them, he said.
District Attorney Gary Lieberstein agreed and said the county is dealing with a major change — the state’s move to have lower-level felons housed in county jails instead of state prisons.
Caldwell sees a link between the new jail and its prevention programs and the children’s programs. Providing children with better opportunities for learning and better mental health counseling can help keep them out of jails when they grow up, he said.
Napa County Superintendent of Schools Barbara Nemko said some children enter school already facing an achievement gap. Early childhood education levels the playing field, she said.
It remains to be seen how much money a successful Measure Y tax could provide for children’s programs such as child care, early education and health services. The county would first pay for the jail financing.
Cakebread expressed hope that at least a half-million dollars annually would be available, and that this could leverage more state and federal dollars. If the county secures state dollars to help pay for the jail, the amount of Measure Y money going to children’s programs would grow dramatically, she said.
The Yes on Measure Y campaign unveiled signs that try to convince viewers that the “Y” stands for a “yes” vote. The logo depicts a sun that Caldwell said is rising. On June 7, supporters will learn whether that sun is rising or setting on the ballot measure.