Talk about blood sucking PESTS! Please vote NO on mosquito tax.

1 May

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I found a packet for an upcoming election in my mailbox over the weekend, and I was shocked I hadn’t heard anything about it in the print or broadcast media. Again, a local government agency is trying to stick us for their pensions and health benefits.

Like CARD, Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District is management top heavy with employees paying as little as 1% of their own benefits out of salaries in excess of $100,000.

I found some budget information on the BCMVCD website, and e-mailed District Manager Matt Ball with some questions. He’s a real cooperative nice guy, answered immediately. According to Ball, “District employees are 100% covered and District employee family members are 80% covered under a Blue Shield high deductible plan. District employees hired on or before December 31, 2012, pay 1% of their CalPERS retirement plan.  District employees hired on or after January 1, 2013, pay 6.25% of their CalPERS retirement plan.”

We pay workman’s comp and social security for public employees,  in addition to the health insurance and pensions, I always forget to bring that up. In fact, according to annual budgets available on their website, BCMVCD laid out over $150,000 for FICA and workman’s comp last year, throwing out another $500,000+ for health insurance and pensions, just for their top 18 employees. Only 18 employees, costing the taxpayers over $2 million in salaries, then almost three quarters of a million more on health coverage and pensions.

I did not get any of this information out of the pamphlet sent to me by the district. The pamphlet, printed at our expense, is just propaganda aimed at passing the assessment. It starts out, “Why Did You Receive This Assessment Ballot?” and goes on to describe the “purpose of the Mosquito Control District” – yeah, to prevent the diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other “vectors” or “disease bearing pests.” I’m all over that, that’s why we have a Mosquito Control District. But why are we receiving this ballot?

The next paragraph talks about funding – “The Mosquito Control District is primarily funded by a small portion of property taxes.”   Then, “significant increased cost of controlling West Nile Virus…declining property values…transfer of District revenues  by the State and County to other agencies.” Finally, “Without this additional funding, the district will have to reduce mosquito, vector and disease control services.

Ah, the repetition – these agencies always use the same tired  tactics. First they drum up fear, then they tell us how they can protect us, then finally, threaten to withdraw all protection if we don’t pay. That sounds like the plot line from some old cop show like Streets of San Francisco. Let’s call Mike Stone! Kojak!

Here’s the reason they want  this bond – they have lost over $350,000/year in RDA funding.  I could not find revenue information on the website, so I asked Matt Ball and he  obliged. The district still gets about $2 million from property and other taxes, as well as interest (on what I don’t know), and service fees. But, that $350,000 covered their health benefits, which, according to Mr. Ball, are provided to employees 100% free of cost and to their families at only 20% of cost.

And then there’s another $224,000 (figure for 2013-14) in PERS premiums, of which the employees pay less than 7 percent, most as little as 1 percent.

Let’s all remember – one RDA dollar borrowed equals three RDA dollars owed. BCMVCD has enjoyed a hefty portion of RDA fixins – about $3.5 million a year. In 2011/12, they got more than twice as much – $733,404.09. Good Grief Charley Brown – since 2007, they’ve received over $2.5 million in RDA dollars – get out the calculator Pa – that’s almost $8 million dollars, gone to their pensions and benefits, for 18  employees over six years. Eight million dollars. 

Throughout this period, property tax and related revenues have continued to climb steadily, despite BCMVCD’s complaint that property values have gone down. 

Like every other agency around here, BCMVCD had become overly comfortable with spending borrowed money on themselves.  I don’t think it’s uncivil in any way to say “feathering their own nests”  – what else would you call these pensions, for which they contribute less than 10 percent, but a sweet feathered nest?

Worst of all, they not only line their nest with borrowed money, they do it at the expense of services and staff. Acording to Mr. Ball, “Last July the District laid off two full-time permanent employees and has cut its seasonal workforce from 14-10.”  He also mentioned that district employees have not received a pay raise for three years, and their current Memo of Understanding with the county leaves them without a raise this year. But, in the budgets I see on the website, the health benefits and pensions payments continued to increase, even as the salary total went down. 

Of course, as you’d expect, the biggest single expense after employee compensation is for pesticides. A lot of people are against the use of pesticides in mosquito abatement, many would simply like to see more responsible use.  I think reasonable people would agree that some use of poisons is necessary to protect the human population in cases of gross infestation. But, there are plenty of alternatives, including, getting rid of their breeding areas through public clean-up campaigns. I wonder, has the department been utilizing more alternative measures to fight this claimed increase in the West Nile threat? Or, has the cost of pesticides like pyrethrin been going down lately? I wonder because, over the past three years, BCMVCD has been spending less and less money on pesticides. 

You can see the budget information here:

http://www.bcmvcd.com/current_fiscal_budgets/14%20Final%20Budget.pdf

And here’s John Chiang’s website with salary information:

http://www.publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/SpecialDistricts/SpecialDistrict.aspx?entityid=1663&fiscalyear=2012

I’m sorry to sprout such a blob on you, but I like to think you are intelligent people who need all the facts to make your decisions. Yes, I know mosquitoes carry disease, that’s why I clean my rain gutters and look around my yard at this time of year for anything that holds a little skanky water. In the pamphlet and on their website, BCMVCD urge you to turn in your neighbor with the green swimming pool – why don’t they tell you to clean your rain gutters? Why don’t they warn you, don’t leave your recycling can, open, outside behind the garage? Maybe they should tell people how much rainwater can get into an upright soda or beer or water bottle left next to a patio chair or a recycling bin, or how many mosquito larvae/pupae can live in that much water, and how quickly they go from egg to fully capable blood sucker.

I really don’t think they are interested in educating people, their pamphlet is clearly biased toward  getting money to pay their benefits and pensions.

Here’s the nutshell version: VOTE NO!

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15 Responses to “Talk about blood sucking PESTS! Please vote NO on mosquito tax.”

    • Juanita Sumner May 2, 2014 at 5:10 am #

      I’m sorry, the biggest disease carrier in Butte County are the college kids who arrive twice a year from out of town.

  1. Beth Vice May 1, 2014 at 5:42 pm #

    Wow ! ! ! I am outraged right now. I am an employee of the BCMVCD and just to let everyone know some facts you may have left out by mistake. Most of the money collected by this assessment will be used for public education and outreach, updating old equipment to lower maintenance costs, increase fuel mileage and increase reliability, more surveillance for virus carrying invasive species of mosquitoes that have been introduced into California in the past 3 years, fish brooding tanks for mosquitofish to propagate year-round to allow the district to keep up with public demands, expand the district tick surveillance program to monitor more public use land and test collected ticks for the presence of tick borne disease. The rate proposed will only be $ 9.69 per year for a single family residence on a acre or less. That isnt even what you would pay for 2 mochas at a coffee house for a years worth of public health protection. I say vote YES !

    • Juanita Sumner May 2, 2014 at 5:12 am #

      what do you have to say about paying your own benefits and pension Beth? I’m tired of footing the bill for your lifestyle. Most of the full time employees down there make at least twice the median income, and still get 80 – 100% of their benefits paid for them. That’s why BCMVCD had to lay off employees – cause you take all the money Beth.

      Beth, get your hands out of my purse.

      • Joe May 2, 2014 at 8:03 am #

        Exactly. Why aren’t all the things Beth mentions already happening? Because these benefits are out of control.

      • Juanita Sumner May 2, 2014 at 10:19 am #

        Thanks Joe. I hope I wasn’t too rude to Beth, but BCMVCD is just another case of “rent seekers.”

        Anybody remember the episode of King of the Hill – “Serpunt!”

        http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0961790/

    • Juanita Sumner May 2, 2014 at 2:24 pm #

      By the way Beth, I don’t spend $10 on mochas at the coffee house, I make my own coffee with cheap beans, I scrimp and save to pay my property taxes, so people like you can have free health insurance and pensions consisting of 70 percent of your highest year’s pay, for doing nothing for the rest of your life.

      $9.69 is too much to pay for that Beth, pay it yourself,

  2. bill May 3, 2014 at 9:02 am #

    These public employees need to get real about pensions.

    In the private sector you are lucky to get a 3% 401k match. If a private sector worked for 30 years for a company with a 3% match and the employee maxed out on their 401k every year the total their employer would contribute to their 401k over those 30 years would amount to about 15000. And this is assuming the employee maxes out on their 401k. Most can’t afford to do that.

    Contrast that 15k with getting 80 or 90 percent of your highest years pay for the rest of your life.

    The reality is most in the private sector will never retire.

    • bill May 3, 2014 at 9:30 am #

      In the private sector the employee pays 97% of his/her “pension” where as in the public sector it’s just the opposite.

      And for the private sector worker that is assuming he/she is lucky enough to work for a company that even offers a 401k match and can afford to have $15500k (and $23000 at 50 and over) taken out of their paycheck every year.

      And the employee has to manage that money by themselves and hope stocks, bonds, etc. have a good return.

      Contrast all that to a guaranteed pension for life indexed to inflation based on your highest years’ salary. And typically if the person receiving the pension dies his/her spouse gets it for the rest of their lives.

      There is just no way we can afford this any longer for public employees.

      • Juanita Sumner May 3, 2014 at 1:00 pm #

        Thanks for saying it Bill – I’m so glad to hear from more and more people who think these public worker benefits and pensions are whacked. Get ready for a big tax push, get ready to push back.

  3. Bob May 3, 2014 at 4:21 pm #

    People need to do the math on these pensions.

    A guy I know is in the CHP and is in his early fifties who will retire next year with a pension of around $90,000 a year plus medical.

    His dad was a cop and lived to be 87. Assuming this guy lives another 35 years the taxpayer is on the hook for $3,150,000 and more if his younger wife outlives him which she probably will.

    How on earth can taxpayers afford $3 million dollar plus pensions for cops?

  4. Bob May 3, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    Maybe it will make no difference when the economy collapses

    http://www.lewrockwell.com/2014/05/no_author/here-comes-the-economic-collapse/

    • Juanita Sumner May 3, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

      Thanks Bob. I’m looking into an alternative economy, I’ll keep you posted.

  5. jim May 24, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    There was a Grand Jury report from 2011?
    I see link at BCMAVCD website, but can not read the pdf
    Maybe time for new inquiry?
    And why is this vote:
    1] not held through governmental agency
    2] mailed to CPA in Oroville
    3] Postage permit from Fairfield, CA
    How do I know my “vote” will really get counted?
    It is not anonymous, who I am is tied to how I voted. Shall I be getting some late night vandalism or threats for voting one way?
    I feel like I am in a third world dictatorship being given the opportunity to “vote’, which will not really count, but will give the dictator the data for who to eliminate.

    • Juanita Sumner May 24, 2014 at 11:18 am #

      Thanks for commenting Jim, this really makes me mad too. I have been reading over that website too, but I had not got around to the Grand Jury report – I will have to take a look at that and see what I can get.

      Here’s my inquiry: why do we need this agency at all? Mosquitoes are a seasonal problem, and the workers who actually deal with the mosquitoes are seasonal hires, living on sub-poverty level wages without any health insurance or retirement. What are we doing paying a bunch of bureaucrats all year long? A manager PLUS assistant manager who both make over $100,000 in salary, and then there’s health insurance and pension, over $25,000 each, toward which they contribute less than 10 percent. Their office manager makes about $70,000/year, and then benefits. Office manager for a mosquito abatement district? What does the manager do all day?

      Rent Seekers.

      You know, I don’t think they’ll go violent on you, but I’m guessing any opposition will be ridiculed. I tried to talk to them at the Silver Dollar fair the other night, and the office manager gave me a line of bullshit that rivaled anything going on in the livestock area. I can’t repeat the conversation, I didn’t have my handy tape recorder, but she was all over the place. They actually get paid to go out to events like the fair and the garden and home shows to spread their propaganda, it’s in the minutes from their meetings. They go out to people all about the perils of mosquito borne disease and how these poison spraying heroes are saving our lives every day – it’s just wonderful! but they’re not telling people about their salaries and benefits, or that they only actually operate about four to five months out of the year. They don’t tell people that 16 employees get over $1 million in salary, plus benefits and pension.

      Please tell your friends about this, thanks for coming over.

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