No Kidding – our city is headed for deep doo-doo

29 Nov

I sent the letter below last Saturday, I had to resend, although Dave Little excused himself – “just a lot of letters in the queue”  Sure, okay, at least he printed it before this item goes to council.

There’s another Finance Committee meeting scheduled this coming week. They will pick up the conversation they left in the “workshop” I’m speaking of below. This time they will talk about how developers have got off without paying sewer fees, and how the sewer fund has been in arrears for years. From the staff report, available here:

http://www.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/finance_committee/12-2-15FCAgendaPacket.pdf

“For over a year, City staff have highlighted the impact of reduced revenues received from development for sewer capacity fees. As a result, the City’s general sewer operating account has picked up the significant annual loan obligations required to pay the state for the capacity expansion made to the sewer treatment plant.”

Yeah, I’ve been following this conversation – what they don’t mention is, like the Private Development Fund, the Sewer Fund has been dipped into to pay salaries, benefits and pensions for people who have never even been in the neighborhood (where property owners complain they are being eaten by flies from the poorly managed plant, staff admitting they dump raw sewage in the Sac River during heavy rainstorms…)  They don’t mention the constant tug-o-war going on between the sewer operation and M&T Ranch – both suck water out of the river for operations, which has left City of Chico leach lines “on the rocks” on several occasions, leading to millions in repairs paid by taxpayers.

Our sewer plant is a disaster, but city of Chico keeps trying to hook more people up, cause they want those fees to pay – you got it – the Pension Liability.  Now they are holding a carrot out to Paradise? Wow, this is just getting surreal. 

So, I’m just glad Little finally decided to run my last letter, I already feel another one forming in the old Brain Pan.  I wish you folks would write too. Our biggest question being – all these years you been letting the developers off, you been charging private homeowners by frontage – meaning, the length of your property that meets the street. Developers pay a flat rate – why not homeowners? Here we been subsidizing development for years, and the fund is still RED.  

$taff has been embezzling. I realize, the developers have been getting a better deal than we have, but we all been taking a screwing from $taff. 

My letter, run this morning:

A consultant’s report given to the city Finance Committee says homeowners pay about 130 percent of the true cost of building permits while for-profit developers pay less than the cost of services they receive  from the city. But this is not the entire reason for a $9 million deficit in the private development fund. 

Consultant Chad Wolford explained, while we cut our workforce heavily, we failed to cut “overhead” – that is, the management positions that take most of our budget. 

Next door, the Internal Affairs committee tackled the subject of civility as I watched our mayor attack a local developer who came to the podium to question the allocation of a $6 million pension deficit on the private development fund. Mayor Mark Sorensen listed two other options – “keep moving in your direction…racking up a million dollars a year in debt…” he told Pete Giampoli.  Sorensen’s other option was to take the money out of the General Fund, already empty because of such transfers. 

The unspoken option is  cut management positions. One recently hired finance department employee, salary over $100,000, attended the meeting for no apparent reason.  He gave no report, sat in the audience, and left the building several times during the meeting. 

This is why we’re in trouble – we have too many redundant positions, getting over $100,000 in salary and paying little toward their benefits. Most of our management employees are longtime CalPERS participants who pay less than 10 percent of their pension premiums. 

Juanita Sumner, Chico

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4 Responses to “No Kidding – our city is headed for deep doo-doo”

  1. Jim November 29, 2015 at 5:08 pm #

    Thank you for your letter. The City is screwing us from so many directions right now, I just don’t know where to start.

    My main gripe right now is how they want to give The Esplanade the “Plaza” treatment, by making the most beautiful street in Norther California, into another ugly mess. We don’t need traffic circles!

    • bob November 30, 2015 at 6:54 pm #

      The City is screwing us from so many directions right now, I just don’t know where to start.

      Well, they’re going to try to screw you even more.

      Just wait in about 7 or 8 months when they demand we pass tax increases and bond measures. They will tell you the sky will fall if you don’t. And of course they won’t mention a thing about the obscene compensation packages these people get. The pensions alone will bankrupt the city.

      And they won’t mention their mismanagement. For instance these people can’t maintain the facilities we have now but they want to build more, such as a huge aquatic center that when all is said and done will cost tens of millions to build and maintain.

      • Juanita Sumner December 1, 2015 at 6:30 am #

        Thanks Bob, you remind me I have to go to an 8:30 meeting tomorrow to bitch about the fact that while homeowners have been paying MORE than the cost of hooking up to sewer, again, developers have been getting cheap fees or not paying AT ALL. Meanwhile, city $taff have been feeding on the sewer fund (HEADLINE: City $taff Eats Shit!”), it’s been completely in the red for years. Mayor Sorensen talked about it in his now defunct “Editorial Board” blog but that has mysteriously disappeared. I’ll have to go down there tomorrow and see what he has to say now.

    • Juanita Sumner December 1, 2015 at 7:05 am #

      Thanks for your constant support in keeping these conversations going.

      And thanks for saying that about the Esplanade – the whole thing has me so pissed off I haven’t been able to bitch about it.

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