Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association: Taxpayers must defend themselves and take a more active role in opposing taxes

4 Oct

Thanks to Bob and Jim, who both sent this link in response to my whining about the “deluge” of tax increase proposals rolling toward the 2016 ballot:

This is a good read. Starting with some background about the history of sales tax in California and the rules by which sales taxes can be enacted, raised, and spent, this article explains how taxing agencies can actually spend these monies just about any way they want if they choose their words carefully.  

Sales taxes are subject either to a simple majority (51%) of the voters – for general sales tax increases that can be spent at the taxing entity’s discretion – or a two-thirds majority of the voters – for a special tax with a specific purpose.

HJTA explains, “In an effort to circumvent the two-thirds vote requirement for special taxes, some cities and counties have placed majority vote general sales tax increase measures on the ballot along with a companion advisory measure ‘advising’ local officials how to spend the tax proceeds without actually legally dedicating the tax proceeds for the ‘advised’ purposes. With this strategy, local officials can spend the tax proceeds any way they want and are not legally bound by the contents of the companion advisory measure.”

I’m pretty sure the same holds for a bond or assessment on homes, but will have to check into that.

So far, tax increase proponents in Chico have been asking for some pretty specific stuff. CARD says they want some $10 million-plus for an aquatic center, they’re probably going to ask for a bond on our homes. Meanwhile, Chico PD is stumping for a sales tax increase, specifically for staff. Both of these sound like they will require two-thirds of the voters. 

That should be comforting, but like HJTA says, “Opposing and defeating a sales tax is often not easy, even when a two-thirds vote is required to pass the tax.”

I started this organization back in 2012 to fight Measure J, the cell phone tax proposed by then-Mayor Ann Schwab and other members of council. I had heard about it somewhere, and in my research, I found out they’d been illegally taxing our cell phones for years, and this measure was their attempt at making it legal without really explaining that to anybody. They didn’t want to tell us – if we overturned that tax, they’d have to REFUND MONEY THEY’D BEEN STEALING FOR YEARS. 

We overturned that tax, and they had to offer the refunds.  They cried about it, but continued to raise their own salaries and refusing to pay for their own benefits and pension. Like Jarvis says, “Local governments have been placing sales tax measures on the ballot in response to alleged ‘budgetary problems.’ Such ‘budgetary problems’ are often a result of wasteful or excessive spending by local government officials, including high pension costs and excessive personnel costs. Local governments also like to play budgetary shell games in which they place a sales tax measure on the ballot to fund a politically popular purpose, and if the tax passes, it would enable the local government to free up money from the general fund that can then be spent on the pet projects or programs of local politicians.” 

Here, councils’ favorite pets seem to be cops and firemen. I was just reading this old article from News and Review, June,  2013, same old story:

“Constantin then advised the council that the city has $3 million less in “spendable” cash than last year, and that the Chico Police Department payroll is 2 percent over where it should be at this time. Meanwhile, the Fire Department payroll is 11 percent over what it should be, in spite of some savings from the reduction of staff at Fire Station 3 at the Chico Municipal Airport.”

While Constantin would now like everybody to believe they’ve tightened up their “loosey Goosey” budget, you will still find “budget appropriations” on almost every council agenda – that’s $taff saying, “we’ve gone over budget again, and we need to have more money…”

Public Safety is a hungry monster in our town, it eats almost all our city pie. The city sewer, airport, development, and other funds have been pilfered to meet payroll overruns, workman’s comp overruns, and even PG&E gas bills that run over-budget because, as ex-finance director Jennifer Hennessy explained, the cops get paid to shower and dress – called “donning and doffing” – before and after every shift. That’s a lot of hot water. 

4 Responses to “Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association: Taxpayers must defend themselves and take a more active role in opposing taxes”

  1. bob October 4, 2015 at 6:00 pm #

    Geez, getting paid to shower and dress! What’s next, pay to tuck them in at night??

    I’m gonna try that one with my boss in my next review. Hey boss, where’s my donning and doffing raise?

  2. bob October 4, 2015 at 6:05 pm #

    Here’s a book everyone should read. Unfortunately the Butte County Library does not have this book, but considering it’s content that’s no surprise.

    I believe others have mentioned it before but the closer we get to election time the more people need to read it.

    Plunder: How Public Employee Unions are Raiding Treasuries, Controlling Our Lives and Bankrupting the Nation

    • Juanita Sumner October 5, 2015 at 5:50 am #

      Well, I’ve thought about reading it, but backed off because I’m afraid it will be too scary.

      Maybe I will make it our “Book In Common” for Halloween. I was going to go with Stephen King, “Night Shift”, but “Plunder” might be more appropriate.

      Here’s author Stephen Greenhut’s page at the San Diego Union-Tribune, lots of good stuff there too.

  3. Juanita Sumner October 5, 2015 at 5:54 am #

    Here’s another site that posts Greenhut and other interesting authors:

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