Coolidge’s tax increase proposals are the grist they need for their pension obligation bond. Chico cost of living will increase while quality of living will decrease.

28 Feb

This Tuesday Chico City council has an over-full agenda. I notice a lot of the remarks on Engaged Chico question the timing of some of the items, with meetings closed to the public. It seems like they’ve packed the agenda with stupid crap like a Downtown card room, after promising us they’d only discuss “essential business” during the shutdown. 

Nichole Nava sums it up, “This topic and a couple of others should be tabled until the E[xecutive] O[rder] has ended and FULL public participation resumes. Continuing to place items such as this one on the agenda while still under the PHE is not the responsible course of action.”

Hidden deep in this mystery meat agenda are two tax proposals from Andrew Coolidge. Coolidge is proposing not only a sales tax increase for “police and fire,” but a bond for “road improvements.” I feel this agenda has been packed for a reason – they want to distract us from the tax increase proposals they are trying to run under the wire. 

If you read the financial reports attached at the end of the agenda, you see that the city is collecting more revenues every year, and paying more toward the UAL every year. This year they paid out $11.4 million, just in “catch-up” payments, That doesn’t include the regular payroll payments they allocate out of each department budget. But Coolidge wants these measures to guarantee the POB that comes up later in the agenda. All the while the UAL is growing out of control because council has failed to control employee costs.

Hidden even more deeply in the casserole – Item 5.12 – is a request from City Manager Mark Orme (“Staff”) to move forward the Pension Obligation validation process. 

 “Staff is requesting approval to continue exploring the CalPERS Unfunded Accrued Liability (UAL)…”

Well, that’s interesting – “staff is requesting approval…” Meaning, Mark Orme. Orme knows they need that POB before CalPERS ups the ante again. And, he knows they need the sales tax increase and a bond to cover the payments on the POB. This is a desperate scheme, and we’re the ones who will be left holding the bag for this bond. If we don’t approve the sales tax increase and Coolidge’s bond, the POB payments will bottom out our budget. But even if we do approve those new taxes, we will not get street/road repairs, we will not see more police, but the cops and the rest of the employees will be guaranteed their overgenerous pensions. 

Right now the city is bargaining with the Chico Police Officers Association for a new contract. Instead of asking them to pay more toward their generous pensions and benefits, council is turning the stick on the rest of us. The public safety groups – CPOA and the International Firefighters – only pay 15% toward pensions of 90% of salaries exceeding $100,000/year. That’s ridiculous – $15 for every $100 they expect to collect for sitting on their asses in retirement. But here’s the funny thing – they also pay more than any other bargaining group. Management, with the highest salaries, pay the least – 9%. They expect us to pay their salaries now, and then pay them again, with Cost of Living Increase!  

If you haven’t already commented on Engaged Chico

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/meetings/354-2-slash-16-slash-21-city-council-meeting-continued-to-march-2-2020/agenda_items/6036bf36f2b6700d2c00a1ad-5-dot-12-pension-obligation-bonds-this-item-added-t

please do. This bond will tank our budget. The sales tax increase and (yet another!) bond on our homes will raise the cost of living in Chico even further, just in case things are expensive enough for you already. 

They raised the cost of our trash service 19% – have you seen any improvement in the street in front of your house? Coolidge is bullshitting us again, just say NO. 

A gimmick to avoid putting the matter before the voters

19 Feb

I been busy lately, but I knocked out this letter to the editor after I read that article from Mary Walsh. I just can’t believe how stupid that plan is – rent city hall back from yourself? What a scam – who would buy that? Your silly council, and your board of stupes, that’s who! 

Something I couldn’t squeeze in here, is the fact that this money will be paid back at the expense of our city infrastructure.  The “pension fund” they are talking about is filled with a percentage of the payroll from each department – meaning, street money, sewer money, park money, etc. 

Oh yeah, did I mention, the county of Butte is pursuing the same bonds, so get ready to pay out of both ends. 

Juanita’s latest spit on the griddle:

Chico and Butte County are considering revenue measures to pay their pension deficits. Two options presented by consultants are Pension Obligation Bonds and Lease Revenue Bonds. Neither requires voter approval.

David Crane, of UC Stanford, says “Economically, a POB is no more than a ‘carry trade’… borrowing at a low rate to bet on hopefully-higher-yielding assets…”  Crane reports, “When the smoke clears, a POB issuer has the same pension obligations it had before, more debt, has paid investment banking fees, and  gambled the proceeds on products that beget even more fees for bankers.”

New York Times public finance reporter Mary Walsh explained Lease Revenue Bonds in a recent article. “The city creates a dummy corporation to hold assets and then rents them…” Meaning, the taxpayers pay to rent these facilities from the “dummy corporation”.   “The corporation then issues bonds and sends the proceeds back to the city, which sends the cash to its pension fund to cover its shortfall. In turn, the pension fund invests the money raised by those bonds in other assets that are expected to generate a higher return over time.”

A dissenting West Covina councilwoman called this plan “a gimmick to avoid putting the matter before voters, who she believed weren’t likely to approve a deal that would increase West Covina’s debt sixfold.” 

West Covina residents now pay rent on their own libraries, fire stations, even city hall. Who are the dummies here? Contact your district representatives, let them know what you think. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

West Covina has rented their own streets to themselves. Tucson has rented their own five golf courses and a zoo, while Flagstaff pays rent on their own libraries, fire stations and even City Hall. Chico councilman Sean Morgan has suggested the city should rent Chico Airport to itself. All to pay the outrageous pensions of our elite public employees.

18 Feb

Back in September 2020, I wrote about a Finance Committee presentation from a bond consultant. The city is looking for a new revenue stream to pay down the pensions – instead of just asking the employees to pay a more reasonable share they turn to a tax that will not even come to the ballot. 

https://chicotaxpayers.com/2020/09/21/another-hair-brained-scheme-from-orme-and-constantin-finance-committee-to-discuss-leasing-our-streets-to-pay-the-pension-deficit-no-im-not-joking/

The consultant discussed two options – a Pension Obligation Bond, and “lease revenue bonds”. Neither option requires voter approval.

Pension obligation bonds (POBs) are taxable bonds used to fund the unfunded portion of pension liabilities with borrowed money.  The presumption is that investments will pay the debt service. 

“Lease revenue bonds” involve municipalities issuing bonds (borrowing money) using their own city streets or buildings as collateral to pay down their unfunded pension liabilities. From the 9/23 agenda: “A lease revenue bond structure (leased asset required, such as streets or buildings) would avoid validation process [meaning, the voters] and could proceed on quicker schedule.”

Essentially, a city leases their streets to a special Financing Authority, which will pay the city their up-front money, and “rent” the streets back to the city, in order to pay off the bonds. (Forbes)

And the taxpayers pay the “rent”.  “The municipality will generally appropriate money during each budget session to meet the lease [rent] payment.” (Forbes) These appropriations come at the cost of public safety and infrastructure.

Again, neither requires voter approval. Last month the full council heard the same consultant and voted to have him bring back the fine details, hoping to have this pig in the poke by March. 

The other day I got a note from Mary Walsh, who writes about public finance for the New York Times. Here’s an article she wrote about the revenue lease option. 

The City of Tucson, Ariz., decided last year to pay rent on five golf courses and a zoo — to itself. In California, West Covina agreed to pay rent on its own streets. And in Flagstaff, Ariz., a new lease agreement covers libraries, fire stations and even City Hall.

They are risky financial arrangements born of desperation, adopted to fulfill ballooning pension payments that the cities can no longer afford. Starved of cash by the pandemic, cities are essentially using their own property as collateral of sorts to raise money to pay for their workers’ pensions.

How did they do that?

It works like this: The city creates a dummy corporation to hold assets and then rents them. The corporation then issues bonds and sends the proceeds back to the city, which sends the cash to its pension fund to cover its shortfall. These bonds attract investors — who are desperate for yield in a world of near-zero interest rates — by offering a rate of return that’s slightly higher than similar financial assets. In turn, the pension fund invests the money raised by those bonds in other assets that are expected to generate a higher return over time.

I have to ask this question – given the mess we’re in with CalPERS horrible record of investment returns, why in the hell would we try to play the stock market? Another good question would be, who makes the decisions? Mark Orme? Scott Dowell? Or an investments firm that charges ridiculous fees? 

So, I asked my council representative Kasey Reynolds and will be sure to post her response. I’ll tell you the truth – she has never responded to my inquiries about the Shelter Crisis Designation, so I won’t hold my breath on this one. 

Congratulations Yvonne Johnson, Teri Dubose, Rob Berry, and all you Chico “Fisters” – you got what you deserved for endorsing Andrew Coolidge!

4 Feb

Well, you know I can’t resist saying “I told you so.” Especially when some bully has come and twisted my arm to do what they want. No, I won’t get over Yvonne Johnson’s ugly threat – “you’ll get what you deserve for this endorsement...” That endorsement was Randall Stone over Andrew Coolidge in District 5. 

“I would say the same about your stupid endorsement of Stone! You will get what you deserve for this endorsement. As I understand things, Coolidge was trying to compromise on one particular issue that you didn’t agree with. Stone and his wife make bank on the public dollar. She gets buyback on health insurance, PERS, and a lot of other perks due to Stone’s political position.”

One particular issue? He approved the Shelter Crisis Designation, that was hardly a “compromise,” it was a complete sell-out, and the conservatives, including Rob Berry, were pissed about it. That designation is WHY we are where we are today.  When Coolidge announced his candidacy for the 2020 race, Rob Berry acknowledged that Coolidge had voted with the liberals to institute a “Shelter Crisis Designation.” But endorsed him anyway?  Well, how did you feel Yvonne, at exactly that moment when Coolidge threw his hat in with Huber and Brown to forward that plan to put nearly a million dollars of General Fund money into a hobo camp on the kids’ BMX track at the fairgrounds? 

And let’s not forget Lttle Miss “Clean Up the Camps” Deepika Tandon, who also voted with the liberals.   She actually littered my computer with ads showing hobos and her own picture, face filled with disgust. Now she expects us to give them our Park and Ride? What? 

So, excuse me if I’m laughing instead of crying this morning – the image of Rob Berry and Teri Dubose and the rest of you ugly little fascists with a big splatter of egg on all your faces is just too amusing. You bullies ran an ugly campaign, Dubose funneled 10’s of thousands from the unions into funding Coolidge’s campaign – and now? Neither Dubose nor Berry will fess up to this huge blunder. 

I’m old now, and I don’t really give a  flying fuck at a rolling donut what people think, so cover your ears if you don’t like profanity – FUCK YOU CHICO FIRST AND CITIZENS FOR A SAFE CHICO. You people are a giant joke. Unfortunately you’ve put that joke right onto the rest of us. 

A simple question: Why would council want to limit transparency of government finances, especially at a time they want a tax increase and a pension obligation bond?

2 Feb

Dave sent me his email to Chico City Council, asking why they don’t tape the daytime committee meetings and post the video on the website. This is the kind of action we need to take on a regular basis if we want accountability out of Council and Staff.

Yes, it looks a little suspicious when they have these conversations at meetings held during the work day, without any recording, and insufficient notes taken by Staff. Here’s another weird thing a lot of people don’t know – before the minutes are even posted for the public, the committee members are allowed to pick and choose what comments are put in the minutes. So, these meetings most certainly need to be recorded for the public. 

Thanks Dave! 

Hello City Council Members,

Currently the finance meetings are conducted via Zoom on a weekday
during working hours and as a result most working people are unable to
attend.  With Zoom these meetings can be recorded and made available to
the public on-line.  Yet staff refuses to record the meetings and make
them available on-line, stating there is no policy requiring them to do so.

Since taxpayers are already paying for Zoom and Zoom has the ability to
easily record and make the meetings available to the public can you tell
me why this is not being done?  Is there no policy and if so why?

Why would you limit transparency of government finances, especially at a
time you want a tax increase and a pension obligation bond?

If you need a formal request from the public for a policy requiring
staff to record the meetings and make them available to the public
online then I formally make that request with this email. Please
agendize an item on the next council meeting to create this policy.

Thank you.

Jerry Olenyn: Oroville considers contracting Cal Fire for protection, CALPERS savings plays key role

29 Jan

Here’s the answer to Staffers who tell us we “can’t get out of CalPERS…”

https://krcrtv.com/news/local/oroville-considers-contracting-butte-fire-for-protection-calpers-savings-plays-key-role

We need to dump CalPERS – and the first employee we need to throw out is City Manager Mark Orme

29 Jan

I’m not the only person who is anxious about the Pension Obligation Bond currently being shoved through the process by Chico City Manager Mark Orme. Here’s a note from Joe Azzarito: 

With that said, I wish to concentrate on something much closer to home – Chico city counsel’s effort to “restructure our city’s debt” with a much disclaimed process – that being pension obligation bonds, without people’s consent to boot.. 

To put this complicated action to address Chico’s unfunded pension debt of some $146 million and growing in perspective, a comparison can be made to refinancing one’s residence and using the funds to invest in the stock market, with the hope of making a killing. Financial planners will tell you to never do this. The risk of losing both the invested capital and one’s home is enormous. This is what city counselors hope to do to satisfy a need that should never have happened in the first place. Compelled to honor a salary structure and benefits to the detriment of all, except the few, is unconscionable. Contracts can be rewritten to right past wrongs. No one in a city our size needs the excessive compensation when so many more compelling needs are ongoing in this pandemic economy. Strongly urge all city employees to offer, if not forced, either pay cuts or submit to benefit payment increases as a means of paying their own way to the promised land of retirement. 

Joe is right – these contracts can be rewritten, they come up before council for consideration every year. Council has the right, under contract, to either adjust agreements with consent of employees or terminate the contract and hire somebody else.

Here’s a letter to the Marin Independent Journal that reminds us how risky these POB’s are.

(January 28, 2021 at 12:12 p.m.)

Corte Madera plan gambles taxpayer money

I am writing in regard to the article published Jan. 21 with the headline, “Corte Madera moves to refinance pension obligation.” Town Manager Todd Cusimano is incorrect by stating the issuance of pension obligation bonds is like refinancing a 20-year mortgage at 7% with a 3% rate and the difference being “savings.”

In substance, Corte Madera is gambling with taxpayer money in the stock market using margin (leverage). On Wall Street this is called the “carry trade” and is a rudimentary form of arbitrage. On Main Street, it is akin to taking out a home equity line of credit and buying stocks.

The entire reason Corte Madera has an unfunded pension liability is because CalPERS uses extremely aggressive assumed plan returns. If CalPERS fails to earn 7% going forward, then Corte Madera’s debt will grow and the forecast “savings” will evaporate.

Until citizens force pension reform, debt will continue to accumulate quietly in the background and encumber the next generation.

The past is literally devouring the future.

— Ken Broad, Mill Valley

That’s right, CalPERS assumes a high rate of return on their investments, despite years of poor returns. Read this article from Bloomberg that attempts to explain why CalPERS ends up on the shit-end of the stick, along with retirement systems all over the United States.

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2021-01-29/bond-yield-slump-market-madness-puts-pension-funds-in-a-risky-bind?sref=zJTivdEs

Because of an overcompetitive market, “pension funds will struggle to find assets that generate sufficient cash flows to fulfil their obligations to retirees.”

This article leaves me feeling that gambling retirement assets on the market is just an unacceptable practice. But Mark Orme continues to tell us we can’t get out of CalPERS. 

It wouldn’t be so bad if the employees were willing to share in the risks, but they expect their pensions no matter what, while making completely unrealistic contributions on their end.  Public employees expect the taxpayers to double-pay them – they expect their overgenerous salary, and then they expect it again as retirees, without chipping in Jack Shit. Like Joe says, “Compelled to honor a salary structure and benefits to the detriment of all, except the few, is unconscionable.”

The first contract that needs to be thrown out and rewritten is Mark Orme’s. 

Who’s really in charge here?

28 Jan

Last week I received an agenda for another closed Finance Committee meeting, the first since last September, when the FC heard a consultant’s pitch for a Pension Obligation Bond. 

These meetings have always been held during the work day, when the average person has no chance to attend, and they’ve never been recorded. About 8 years ago, with a lot of smack about Jennifer “Loosey Goosey” Hennessy, recently departed finance manager Chris Constantin instituted a new policy of giving detailed finance reports at every meeting. Those reports were always available with the agenda of the meeting, they still are. 

But here’s the thing – the conversations get pretty far-reaching, and darned frank. At one meeting I attended a couple of years ago, local banker Marc Francis took Constantin out into the hallway to have a private conversation about a sales tax measure. I think that’s inappropriate, and a lot of that goes on at these meetings. But who would know – it’s not only not recorded, the clerk takes very minimal notes. 

I guess Zoom is an improvement, but you have to have good internet, and you need to sign in at least a half hour early to work out the glitches. And it’s the same as a live meeting – who’s available to watch a city committee meeting from 8 – 10 am on a work day?

I used to go to a lot of trouble to attend these meetings, putting aside my day’s work and lining up outside the door in whatever kind of weather. Why? Because it’s toe-to-toe in there, you can actually look your “representatives” right in the eye and tell them what you think, including what you think of what they think. There’s a lot of give and take, and oftentimes, they’ve backed down  from bad ideas just because they know somebody is watching.

So yes, I believe those meetings should all be videotaped, and the public should be able to get a copy for viewing at home. Holding meetings when people can’t attend and refusing to tape them is obviously just their way of keeping the public from knowing what the hell is  going on. 

And who makes that decision? Not your duly elected “representatives”, but Mark Orme. Remember, last March, at the onset of the shut down, our lovely council passed the mantel to Orme – he’s our un-elected Boss Man now, and he’s running our town into the toilet.

Take this item from next week’s council agenda. 

CREATING SHELTERING OPTIONS

The City’s Homeless Solutions Coordinator continues to evaluate options to mitigate the impacts of homelessness on the community and to help find ways for service providers to forge a responsible and sustainable continuum of care for Chico’s unsheltered populations.  This report provides options to build partnerships for the establishment of a legal camping environment, potential outdoor shelter environment, a non-congregate shelter collaboration, and a potential Park-n-Ride safe parking site.

Recommendation : The City Manager recommends the City Council consider the following:

I think this is outrageous – what happened to our “conservative” council who told us it is not the city’s responsibility to house anybody, it’s the county’s responsibility? Here they are going to take a piece of land from a group that promoted outdoor activities for children and give it to a group of transients to shit all over.

1.
Authorize the use of city owned land at 2352 Martin Luther King Jr. Parkway to establish an outdoor shelter (legal camping environment).

This is currently the location of the BMX track, formerly rented by a non-profit group that was evicted to  fulfill certain people’s agendas.


2.
Direct staff to return to the March 2, 2021 meeting, should the fund-raising efforts to raise $600,000, to fulfill the relocation of the current lessee, not be achieved.

If CHAT can’t fulfill their promise, we should pay?

3.
Authorize staff to use $282,933 of Community Development Block Grant Coronavirus (CDBG-CV) funding in relation to issues of homelessness and to take steps necessary to implement its use.

This money should be going to people who have actually been affected by the COVID shut down, including small businesses.

4.
Authorize the use of $250,000 in general fund dollars to support the efforts of the Chico Housing Action Team to secure a long-term lease for a non-congregate shelter site which will contribute to the advanced program engagement options for unsheltered populations.

$250,000 +

5.
Consider the use of $400,000 in general fund dollars to support the hard costs (one-time costs) required to implement the outdoor shelter environment should funding from the Continuum of Care for alternative sheltering options not be available in the next 60 days.

$400,000 +

6.
Consider the use of $200,000 in general fund dollars to support the operational costs required to begin operating the outdoor shelter environment should funding from the Continuum of Care for alternative sheltering options not be available in the next 30 days.

$200,000 = a grand total of $850,000 out of the General Fund. This is an important example of how they can do anything with money that is deposited in the General Fund.

7.
Evaluate and provide direction on any other information contained herein as it relates to identifying sheltering options for the unhoused population, to include the safe parking proposal.

As stated in the introduction, this has something to do with a Park and Ride facility. You can read the full report for yourself, here:

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=353

And then be sure to comment at Engaged Chico when Staff decides to load the agenda there:

https://chico-ca.granicusideas.com/  

None of this stuff has been discussed at any Finance Committee meeting. It’s been discussed at Homeless Task Force “Ad Hoc” meetings. Ad Hoc meetings require no notice of the public and no record.  But the biggest point I’d like to make here is that this is all on the recommendation of City Manager Mark Orme. 

I had already sent in the following letter when I received the agenda, so I’ll be sure to write a follow-up.  Why letters to the editor? Well, I also wrote to my city representative Kasey Reynolds, twice since December, asking her direct questions about the “Shelter Crisis Designation” But she so far has failed to respond. So I write to the Enterprise Record. I believe Mark Orme is at the center of the problem, and he needs to go.

In 2012 Chico voters passed Measure L, calling for city council to appoint the city clerk.. Proponents claimed Measure L would make the clerk answerable  to city council.  But, with the COVID shutdown, council abdicated all leadership responsibilities to city manager Mark Orme. 

Since March 2020, Orme has created three new positions, appointed a new police chief and given him a raise.  Orme has continued to close meetings to the public, while bringing forward tax measures for discussion without public participation.

When a friend asked the clerk’s office if a closed meeting would be recorded for public scrutiny, Staff replied, “The City does not have a policy that requires staff to record Finance Committee meetings, and does not plan to do so.” When asked why, Staff deferred to Orme.  “My supervisor is the City Clerk, Debbie Presson.  However, she is out of the office on extended leave.  The City Manager, Mark Orme, is my supervisor in her absence.”

Two Shasta County supervisors recently opened their meeting to citizens. Supervisor Les Baugh said, “We did not receive a letter from the state of California asking us to close down our board meetings…” 

In Chico the meetings are closed under order of City Manager Mark Orme because he doesn’t want public scrutiny for his proposed Pension Obligation Bond. This bond would formally shift the pension burden from city employees, who expect to receive 70 – 90% of their highest year’s salary, to the backs of the taxpayers. At the cost of roads, parks and infrastructure. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico, CA

 

 

 

 

 

One man’s story tells the story of Chico

16 Jan

I recently noticed a story in the ER that essentially details what has happened to our town.

This man was sentenced recently for vandalism and “hate crimes” for painting a swastika.  Just now? After running the streets of Chico for 15 years, arrested multiple times for crimes that escalated in violence. Here’s the first case in his Butte County Superior Court File, from 2006 – possession of a deadly weapon.

https://cabutteodyprod.tylerhost.net/Portal/Home/WorkspaceMode?p=0

He was fined and sentenced for charges including failure to appear, but only after this case made it’s way through the court for TWO YEARS. In the meantime, he was charged three more times in 2007, and three times in 2008, for possession of drugs, failure to appear, vandalism, and “willful disobedience of court order...”

Willful disobedience to the court means to me this person is not willing to live within the law, and that should mean he needs to be institutionalized. Instead, the judge released him to go on to a felony weapon possession in 2009, for which he was acquitted? But two more arrests in 2010 result in a felony conviction for “negligent discharge of a firearm...”

Of course he was right back out on the streets in 2012, this time arrested for “elder or dependent adult abuse…

His sheet goes on like this until 2019, when he FINALLY comes up for psychiatric evaluation – after the vandalism bender that included the swastika. The court determined he was competent to stand trial, and gave him 6 years for a “hate crime“.

15 years with a record like that, but they finally send him up for 6 years over “hate crimes”. Toward whom? His residence in Chico seems to me one long, extended orgy of hatred toward humankind.

Why does “hate” have to be directed at a certain kind of people before it is a crime? Twice this guy was arrested for “elder or dependent adult abuse“, but no conviction? I’m going to guess the victim had no family, felt intimidated, and dropped the charges. I can see the first time being a wash, but what was Ramsey thinking when this guy was brought in a second time for a charge like that? But he gets six years for scrawling a symbol he doesn’t even understand on a wall. There’s ugly, nasty, threatening vandalism all over town. In one night someone busted out car windows at the Enloe parking lot while the owners worked diligently inside to save people’s lives. That is hateful – why aren’t we seeing more arrests and convictions? 

Oh, but gee golly, they are finally clearing the camps at One Mile, I guess we’re supposed to give them a basket of kudos for that! 

Here’s one of my favorite lines,  from Yeats, by way of Didion, by way of Me – “What rough beast, it’s hour come round at last, slouches toward Chico to be born?” 

Waste Management has raised rates 19% over the past year – why isn’t that money being spent on the street in front of your house?

14 Jan

Every three months I open my garbage bill and get pissed off. 

First of all, it took me the first 5 years to get Waste Management to stop charging me for the yard waste bin. In the very beginning of this forced deal, I told them I wanted to opt out of the $6+ charge for a yard waste bin that I don’t need. They agreed, but I kept seeing the charge on the bill. Rather than beating my head against the wall trying to contact them via their website or phone, I just scribbled a correction on the bill and made the check out for the correct amount. For five years. That finally worked, and as of January, 2020, they finally got it right, I stopped seeing that charge. 

But I also noticed, they were raising the rates slowly but surely, every bill seemed different. So when I sat down to pay my January 2021 bill, I dug out the January 2020 bill, and yes, rates are up. A 32 gal trash bin has gone from $52.89/quarter to $62.79/quarter, just over the past year. That’s an increase of 19%. 

Which led me to  do more math. I looked at my old Recology bills. We had Recology for 10 years, and they NEVER raised their rates. In fact, they had a fuel surcharge that fluctuated with the price of gas – meaning, it actually went down occasionally. Their average charge per quarter was about $82, for a 96 gallon trash bin, or about $27/month. Now I pay $20+ for a 32 gallon bin? 

In fact, my total bill, for a 32 gal and a 64 gal, is $134/quarter, or $45/month. Pay attention – I used to get a 96 gal bin for $27/month, now I pay $45/month for two bins totaling same. That is a 60% increase.

I’ve been talking about the franchise fee the city gets from the haulers – as of fiscal year June 2020,  $1,980,313. That’s almost $2 million dollars, of YOUR MONEY. You paid that in extra fees. For what? Well, I don’t think I’m the only one who remembers staff and council telling us the money would go to  fix our neighborhood streets. Former City Manager Brian Nakamura told us “too many” trash trucks were destroying our streets, and that he felt they should pay for that.  He led us to believe the money would be dedicated to the streets, and council members, including Andrew Coolidge, sat by and let him do it.

The first year the money was used on the section of Cohasset Road leading to the airport. Every year since, it’s been dumped into the General Fund, where it is used at the whim of council. Can you imagine what $1,980,313 would look like on the street in front of your house? Or maybe give Vallombrosa more than a patch job? Maybe upgrade the streets around the college beyond Third World Country? 

You know, the city also gave Waste Management a contract to empty the trash cans in the park, so they run those behemoths around the park roads once a week – a job that used to be done by a city employee with a pick-up truck. So maybe council should use some of that franchise money to fix South Park Drive before it falls into the creek. Ya think? 

Let’s write to council and tell them that Waste Hauler Franchise Fee needs to be spent on neighborhood streets. Let’s start with our new mayor, Andrew Coolidge – that’s andrew.coolidge@chicoca.gov

While you’re at it, tell him what he can do with his “roads bond” and his sales tax increase.