In response to activist Julie Tacker exposing an expenditure of public funds to purchase four members of the city council jackets, Mayor Caren Ray Russom has reimbursed the city $40 for her jacket.
Last year, Arroyo Grande laid off or forced 11 employees into early retirement because of budget issues. Currently, the city is considering laying off four additional employees and cutting parks and recreation services to continue funding its fire department.
Even so, the city manager used city funds to buy four of the council members jackets. Councilman Keith Storton paid $50 for his jacket.
After Tacker exposed the expenditure in an opinion piece, Mayor Caren Ray Russom thanked Tacker for bringing the issue to her attention, and reimbursed the city for the cost of her jacket.
“I am writing to let you know that I have listened to your comment about the jackets purchased for us by the city,” Ray Russom said. “While this kind of purchase is not unprecedented, your point is well taken. I have already reimbursed the city for the cost of mine. I have let the rest of the council know, and I believe they will all follow the lead rightly set by Council Member Storton.”
As a government watchdog, Tacker has identified misappropriation of funds in several cities and community services districts. Her exposures have led to public officials losing their jobs and to the reimbursement of monies wrongly taken from local governments.