Atwater voters have spoken.
On Tuesday, residents approved a half-cent sales tax aimed at supporting public safety. The extra tax is expected to bring in $1.3 million to $1.6 million a year.
The initiative was approved by 67.1 percent of the voters. More than two-thirds of the voters needed to approve the sales tax increase because the money it raises is specifically earmarked for public safety.
Now the real work begins.
Frank Pietro, Atwater's police chief and interim city manager, needs to put together a truly independent oversight committee to recommend how the money is spent. It needs a mix of voices, even Measure H opponents, to ensure a vigorous and critical analysis of how the money is spent.
He'll also need to deliver on the promise to put three or four more officers on the street, tangible proof taxpayers are getting what they paid for with their Measure H dollars.
Pietro, supporters of Measure H, fiscal watchdogs and others in the community also must keep a watchful eye on how the city budgets its funding for law enforcement going forward.
Tuesday's vote was designed to supplement the normal flow of general fund monies to public safety. If the City Council tried to restrict that flow because of additional funds the new tax generates, Pietro and others will have to move decisively to rally support to stop such misguided behavior.
Some say that kind of funding shenanigans can't happen, but sadly the city's track record when it comes to fiscal responsibility isn't that good. Even though the city's gotten back on track recently, it could go off the rails if funding-hungry city officials try to pull a bait-and-switch with Measure H.
If that's allowed to happen, it would violate the trust voters showed Tuesday and should prompt the ouster of those responsible.