Letter: Here’s why CARD wants more money

7 Apr

Here’s a letter I sent to the Enterprise Record a full week ago. I don’t know why it took so long for Little to run my letter – I could speculate that he wants the CARD tax to pass. We’ll see when he endorses it in 2014.

My family received the Chico Area Recreation District’s survey regarding their proposed tax hike. We wanted more information, so asked for their 2012-13 budget figures.  

CARD says they need a new tax because of falling property tax revenues and a “disappearing RDA.” What they don’t mention is the recent $400,000 “side fund payoff” to the California Public Employees Retirement System. CalPERS has demanded public employers pay more toward their employees’ pension premiums, offering some savings on interest if they pay a certain amount immediately.
CARD, employing about 30 people full time, also paid $375,000  in regular pension premiums last year, and $300,000 in healthcare premiums. Salary and benefits totaling about $5 million dollars  eat over half their $7.2 million budget. 
They earn about $3.3 million of their annual revenues from their programs and rental of their facilities. The other $3.5 million  comes mostly  from taxpayers –  county taxes ($2,3456,782), homeowner assessments ($162,753), fees on new homes ($23,750), and $924,000 from the RDA credit card. 
CARD currently suffers a $420,000 deficit. Their capital projects reserve fund shows a sudden negative balance of $344,500. It appears to me they took money from their capital projects fund to pay their CalPERS “side fund payoff”, and now they want us to replace that money. It seems misleading to offer an aquatic center when what they are really asking for is money to pay for their pensions and benefits. 
I’ve posted the budget spreadsheet at chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

I know, I said I’d post the budget here – I can’t get it to come up right on this blog, so here’s the link to my other blog:


and here’s the link to the survey:


This survey is completely loaded – essentially, they tell you, if you don’t pay this tax, your kids will end up on dope. Read it yourself.  They also promise “this measure would include strong fiscal safeguards and oversight, including that less than 5% of the proceeds would be used for administration.” 

CUSD stupe Kelly Staley said that about the school bond voters just extended. Chico Unified said they’d form some kind of citizens’ committee  to “vet” a list of projects, but the administration has already announced projects that have never been vetted in any way. And don’t forget, when the school district originally floated that bond about ten years ago, they said the money would be used exclusively to build a third high school. Then they changed their mind, and we’ve never been shown an actual accounting of how much they’ve raked in over the years or where any of that money has gone. 

In this case, you can see that CARD has taken money out of their capital projects fund and used it to pay their CalPERS obligation. When Steve Visconti sent me that budget,  I could tell from his attached letter he really didn’t expect me to read the budget, or thought I was too stupid to figure it out. I had asked him about revenues. 

Our funding sources come to us a few different ways. One is a small portion of property taxes from each homeowner in our District. The other main revenue source is from programming fees. Those are also shown on page 6 of the attached budget.”

But the budget says otherwise. Like I said above – they get over half their revenues from property taxes and assessments – including $924,000 in RDA money. That RDA money is about to disappear, that’s just another reason they want this tax. Besides the $400,000 they stole to pay their own pensions.

You can print that survey from that link, fill it out, and send it to Visconti at the CARD center – 545 Vallombrosa Ave, Chico, 95926. You can e-mail him for more information at svisconti@chicorec.com

And here’s the funny thing – guess who’s on the CARD board – Tom Lando, the same guy who’s been proposing a city sales tax increase.

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