Humboldt County’s half-percent sales tax has paid for many public safety improvements, but it also made a promise to voters that hasn’t been kept: Accountability.

Recently, a grand jury report called attention to the county’s failure to live up to that promise. At its Tuesday meeting, the Humboldt County Board of Supervisors chose to respond — with excuses.

“Each year that Measure Z has been in effect the county has performed audits of the county budget, to which Measure Z funds are subject,” the board wrote.


From the language on the ballot: “ … shall County of Humboldt pursuant to County Ordinance No. 2517 enact a 1/2% sales tax, for five years, all revenue for the County, none for the State of California, with annual audits and public review?”

If that’s too long, we’ll shorten it: “ … enact … with annual audits and public review?” As in pass the tax and you’ll get your annual audit, not pass the tax and we’ll just pretend existing audits covered it the whole time. The whole point of enacting Measure Z’s own audit is enabling taxpayers to see where their money’s going without asking them to wade through the entirety of the county budget. The Board of Supervisors may finally be making a show of slating Measure Z’s very own audit for the 2018-19 fiscal year — but by the time anyone gets their hands on it, they’ll already have extorted the public into extending Measure Z for perpetuity by foisting a sunset-less version of the tax onto the November ballot.

The end result? Even less accountability from local government. It stinks.

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