ESCONDIDO — The Escondido Independent Redistricting Commission, or IRC, met on Monday and voted to reduce their budget adjustment request that the Escondido City Council tabled in a recent council meeting after concerns arose about the commission’s spending.
Back in January, the City Council approved a budget of $200,000 for the commission. On Nov. 17, the council considered allocating an additional $50,000 to the commission for enhanced public outreach, including offering real-time translation services to those attending hearings online ($23,100) and an increased marketing budget.
Both requests brought the total budget adjustment request to $50,000.
Councilman Mike Morasco and Mayor Paul McNamara expressed concerns about the amount of money that was being requested after an already significant budget was allocated to the commission.
“Your public outreach budget went from $20,000 to $70,000, and you’re asking us to give you the money and trust that you’ll spend it wisely,” McNamara said. “I feel we owe the public a little more detail on that.”
The council decided to table the issue and ask the chair of the commission, Robert Case, to come to the next meeting and formalize the request with a more detailed outline of the budget.
After hearing an overview of the council’s request, the commission approved $17,500 in specific line items related to enhanced public outreach. City Clerk Zack Beck said during the meeting that the remaining $32,500 of the request is not accounted for at this time.
“I think it’s very important what the IRC is doing as an independent body, and I don’t want the commission placed in a position where they’re in an adversarial relationship with the City Council because we want to be cooperative entities because of the importance of the end product the commission is going to produce,” said Beck.
The commission unanimously voted to reduce their request to $17,500 and approach the council with this new number. Though there was some concern from the commission about the council’s authority regarding these discussions.
“I don’t want to sound antagonistic, but we’re not really here to please the council, we’re here to put out a product that’s going to last a decade,” said Commission Chair Robert Case.
“We are an independent commission and we were appointed here by three judges and we are very trustworthy individuals,” said Commissioner Carol Clemens. “We were appointed in this position to make these decisions.”
The commission also received a few public comments regarding the budget adjustment request, including one from Laura Hunter from the Sierra Club North County who was in support of providing translation services and enhancing public outreach.
The City Council will hear the commission’s new request at Wednesday’s council meeting.