CARD to go for assessment – how about they pay their own pensions?

24 Feb

CARD has announced plans to assess property owners, not just for  their proposed aquatic center, but for all their mismanagement problems.  Like I predicted, they will throw out a “wish list” of everything from the aquatic center to new ballfields to a regular cornucopia of activities at DeGarmo Park.

Thanks Jim, for doing the research on assessments, I knew they were bad.

From a San Luis Obispo County document, this definition of “assessment.”

An assessment becomes a lien on parcels of real property to pay for “special benefits” the parcels receive from a project. The lien may be paid off by property owners in a lump sum or may be paid annually with property taxes.

This particular document pertains to a proposition to tax the citizens of San Luis Obispo County for a waste water treatment plant. Here’s a more general document regarding California Assembly Bill 218, passed by a very stupid population back in 1996.

This law seems to set up reasonable boundaries for setting up new taxes, but the voters should have read it more closely. Since then, just recently really, the legislature has lowered the threshold by which voters can pass these assessments to only 58 percent.

To me, that’s rule of mob. More people than that ought to have to agree on something before it is instituted in law.  This new rule sets up a giant separation of our voters. In other words – This Means WAR. Driven by the Have’s, who got theirs by ripping off the Working Class.

Read it – the more property you have, the more your vote is “weighted” in these elections. Because they pay more, you might argue, based on the value of their property – not true, that’s not usually the way this tax works.  

Remember the “Mosquito Tax”?  Here’s the break-down on that, from the Butte County Mosquito and Vectors District assessment passed in 2014:

“Homes of one acre or less pay $9.69 plus eight cents for each additional acre. Owners of vacant land will pay $2.42 per parcel. Apartment complexes are assessed $3.85 per apartment up to 20, and 97 cents after that. Farmers will pay 8 cents per acre and undeveloped rangeland is assessed 2 cents an acre.”

The rich will not pay the lion’s share of the mosquito tax – the working class will shoulder this burden. While the big property owners will say, “we pay more!” they must bow to the fact that there are more working class and poor in this town than “One Percenters.”  If you buy a home you pay the developer’s assessments, if you rent you pay the landlords’ assessments. We working class taxpayers will pay more than the developers and the landlords, even more than the rice farmers who breed mosquitoes.

The CARD assessment will likewise fall hardest on homeowners and renters.

Ever wonder what the mosquito tax pays for? Well, for starters, we get district manager Matt Ball, at over $125,000 in salary, paying just 3% of his own pension – 70 percent of his highest year’s salary, available at age 55. To do what? Sit around that Taj Majal (we also paid for) out on Otterson Drive, yakking with his $70,000/year secretary, who pays less than 3% of her package as well?

I called the district (that’s 533 – 6038) to ask a couple of questions.   At 9:05 am, the $70,000 secretary who answered the phone told me “we’re in a meeting right now,” and asked for my phone number so  could return my call. I don’t play that shit – I asked her, when can I call back and talk to Matt Ball?

Why don’t you try back about 1:00?” she suggested, without a hint of cheer.

I said I would, thank you! I don’t know whether to believe her or not though – is management really in a meeting, or just come in when they get around to it?  So I e-mailed Mr. Ball, asking him about the pensions. I asked him which entity administered their pensions (CalPERS is not the only one) and what’s their pension liability. We’ll see if he gets back to me. Ball previously told me that district employees only pay three percent of some very generous pension and benefits programs.

Over at CARD, director Ann Willman makes about the same salary as Ball, but pays NOTHING toward her benefits. Wow. CARD’s unfunded liability, for just a handful of management types, as of June 2014, is about $1.7 million. That’s after a $400,000 “side fund payoff” made in 2012.

Ever wonder, who is responsible for these decisions? Well, your county board of supervisors and your city council are among the entities that name the members of the board that governs the mosquito district. The CARD board is elected by the voters, long term member Jan Sneed receiving over 9,000 votes in 2014. These commissions rubber stamp the compensation packages, I often wonder, do they even read them? 

Here’s the thing – it’s not their money.

But, again People – yeah, you the People over there – you are responsible for this mess. These districts have open meetings, they are ruled by the same public information laws as everybody else, all you have to do is start paying attention.  Haven’t you ever wanted to buy a bag of popcorn and attend a meeting? Make a phone call to ask snoopy questions? You know you do! Come on!

All it takes is a little push to knock down a house of cards.



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