Efforts underway to undermine Prop 13 for both commercial and residential

14 Mar

We barely recovered from paying our property taxes (which empty out our bank account twice a year just in time for some personal emergency to manifest itself) when I found this article online. 

http://www.foxandhoundsdaily.com/2016/03/40-years-later-prop-13-to-be-a-main-attraction-on-2018-ballot/

For years I’ve been aware of the effort to undermine the protections of Proposition 13 for commercial properties, but now we have an effort to undermine the protections on people’s personal homes.

Wow, after that last BOOM!, can you imagine what your property taxes would have looked like under the old law? How many people would be forced out of their homes if we lost Prop 13? I know my elderly neighbors would be paying more in taxes than they paid for their home, and that seems very, very weird to me.  

And if they sold, they’d still have to pay tremendous income tax, regardless of the property taxes. Why don’t people see this for what it is – SHAKE DOWN!

In a perfect world, property taxes would be assessed based on projects within a certain distance of your house – your “neighborhood”.  We should pay for maintenance of the streets and other public infrastructure around our homes, that seems fair. When was the last time you saw any road work in your neighborhood, that didn’t involved hooking somebody up to sewer? Yeah, the city wants folks on the sewer, so they can pilfer the sewer fund for salaries and benefits, but you notice they don’t fix the street after they gopher their way in, they say they don’t have the money…

The streets in my neighborhood and around my rentals are a disaster, but the paychecks still roll out, and we are still on the hook to pay for pensions of 70 – 90 percent at age 50 – 55.   

It’s hard for little people like me to fight these big efforts, I spend most of my energy locally.   If we had better local watchdogs, we could make a difference. We need better people on council, who can negotiate down the pay and benefits and get more employees in the bargain. We have so many overpaid management positions, paying less than 10 percent toward their own pensions, we can’t afford anybody to actually do the work. 

Mark Sorensen and his friends are the beginning of the end for Chico. These people have taken business behind closed doors, actually cancelling this week’s meeting, saying there’s no business for the agenda.

Well, I’d sure like to know why my garbage man is telling everybody that Waste Management will get all the residential accounts east of the freeway when Mark Orme keeps telling me the deal is “still in negotiation”?  I’d like to know what the city, who was supposed to register with the CPUC as an “Intervenor” in the latest rate increase case for Cal Water, has not made any announcement of the hearing that’s been scheduled for next month.  It seems Mayor Sorensen feels it is not important to keep a rapport open with the public. It’s just too damned expensive to keep the public in the loop, isn’t it? 

Write those letters, ask those questions.  

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8 Responses to “Efforts underway to undermine Prop 13 for both commercial and residential”

  1. bob March 18, 2016 at 9:06 pm #

    It’s amazing that we have some of the highest taxes in the country yet no matter how much our rulers take it is never enough.

    I guess there isn’t enough money to resurface the streets here in Chico. Have you noticed they are filling the cracks with sand and tar? And the sand is everywhere. It can get into the underside of your car and cause problems. If I wanted to drive in sand I’d move to the beach.

    I have never seen them do this on this scale. They are doing this on streets that really should be resurfaced. But I guess this is no surprise considering what sad fiscal shape this city is in due to our corrupt politicians and bureaurats…er…bureaucrats.

    • Juanita Sumner March 19, 2016 at 5:14 am #

      You are correct – on Ch 12 news recently they did a story about it. The city worker in charge of the crew said it is just a “band-aid approach”, that they really need to resurface many of our streets. Mine are shredded.

      But go Downtown – perfect streets, new bike lanes painted in – not just a yellow stripe, but a magical green carpet!

      Write your letters to council – that’s All-City-Council@Chicoca.gov

      • Rob March 19, 2016 at 12:48 pm #

        I saw that report too, and I wondered if that guy is going to get fired!

        I’ve been reading about CARD’s assessment too. I wonder when people will put two and two together – Shapiro pool was allowed to disintegrate. Looking at the salary chart at publicpay.gov, I see their director’s salary has risen steadily over the years, while they’ve neglected facilities? I can’t believe people aren’t outraged, especially those property owners living directly around Shapiro Pool. They’re really losing something.

      • Juanita Sumner March 19, 2016 at 12:55 pm #

        I wonder too, when people will wake up to the general picture – the salaries, benefits and pensions are taking all the money, it’s crazy.

        Joni Mitchell said – “you don’t know what you’ve got til it’s gone…shooooo bop-bop-bop-bop…”

      • Bart March 19, 2016 at 8:16 pm #

        This is what I sent them. I shouldn’t have sugar coated it. I should have told them how I really feel. 🙂

        To All-City-Council@Chicoca.gov
        Subject: Sand

        What’s with sand all over the city streets? This looks like a freaking third world country.

        I guess there isn’t enough money to resurface the streets (what you should be doing), so you are dong a patch job by throwing tar and sand all over the place.

        Don’t you know sand is not good for automobiles?

        It looks like the shell game is coming to an end. All the outrageous pensions and compensation of our so called public servants is really having an impact on basic services such as keeping the roads from falling apart.

        After sneaking through a tax increase (the garbage franchise fee) and fee increases such as for sewers I’m sure you will hit us next with green lighting Lando’s sales tax increase instead of making him get signatures to get it on the ballot. And even if you get your way it won’t be enough and the streets will continue to fall apart because the government employee compensation packages are untenable. Just look at the enormous unfunded pension liability you have.

        Nice job. You must be very proud of yourselves.

      • Juanita Sumner March 20, 2016 at 5:04 am #

        Thank you so much, you nailed it.

        Hey, are you familiar with the neighborhood along the freeway near East Ave, behind the old Mickey D’s at East Ave and Connors? Right across the street from Fairview High? My husband and I wandered into that neighborhood one day, he had been in there before and he wanted to show me – talk about third world country.

        And another time we were driving over to Hamilton City for a hockey match, I hadn’t been on the west side of town for a long time – wow, again, third world country.

        I’ll try to get out more with my camera. Been busy lately, but things are looking up for me right now.

  2. Bart March 23, 2016 at 1:59 pm #

    I received a reply from Randal Stone but no one else on the Council:

    Mr. Crocket:

    Unfortunately you are all too correct on much of this. There are some details that –as of yet – have not occurred or do not appear to be occurring.

    In any event, when I was first elected to Council in 2012, I ran on a platform to “Bring pension reform and budget accountability” to the City. In my first two years in office I was successful in accomplishing just that. I was the only Council candidate in 2012 or even in the last few decades who was talking about pension reform (I am the first successfully elected Councilmember elected to office with zero public employee union support in at least 2 decades). That year (2012) the Chico Police Officers Association bargaining group was paying no (0%) portion of their CalPERS pension contributions. Chico Fire (IAFF) were paying just two (2%) percent. CalPERS of course recommends that employees pay 9% of their contributions. This was going on while the City was bankrupting itself over these costs in addition to a number of other costs that were not being addressed (rising medical costs, crumbling infrastructure, RDA dependence, etc.).

    In 2013 and 2014 I managed to convince my colleagues on the Council to finally address these deficiencies. In the very first bargaining process since I was first elected to Council, I managed to roll back employee concessions to the tune of $4 million (over a 1-3 year period depending on the bargaining group) from across the City organization (from *all* bargaining groups). The very next year (2015) after having been sworn into office, the new “conservative” Council negotiated a new police contract (they would only commit to a 1 year contract in 2014 since they knew another election was coming up). That new contract raised compensation levels for the rank and file police officers (“boots on the ground”) – without putting a single new officer on the beat, or bringing in any new personnel – raised pay for these police officers for a total of $1.5 million.

    Saying this more simply, I fought hard for $4 million city wide and accomplished that objective. The very next year, the new Council including Vice Mayor Sean Morgan and Mayor Mark Sorensen gave *just the police officers* a pay raise that cost $1.5 million. That pay raise did nothing to add more officers, create the TARGET team, or anything else that still needed to be done. We have a single person who manages 35,000 square feet of building space in the City. We have *one* tree maintenance worker in the entire City. We have locked bathrooms, employees who are paid $209,000 per year to answer their own telephone calls. We have severance packages that pay employees 100% of their annual salary should we decide that we should part ways with the employee for *any* reason. The average Chicoan would be lucky to get a two-week notice much less a check for their entire 1-year salary. And that doesn’t count vacation accrual payouts or permitting “retiring” employees to maintain City health insurance policies. Average salary and benefit compensation for City of Chico employees is over $99,000 per year (the same for the City of San Francisco, with cost of living up to four times more than Chico).

    During the last election, I found it unconscionable that campaign finance records inexplicably disappeared from the City’s website – in the middle of the last election cycle. The current Council majority was not interested in determining how this happened or why it happened. Rather they turned the questions it into a political stunt. Yet, Mayor Mark Sorensen and the editor of the daily paper were made well aware of the problem during the election and did nothing about the issue. It wasn’t until I brought it to light that the political stunt attacking me was engaged by both Mayor Sorensen and the local daily newspaper.

    I agree with you, Mr. Crocket. We have some problems of trust in this City and I am working hard to fix them. It is unfortunate that we do not have revenues available to properly maintain the City’s streets. This is also the case through much of the City organization. We know where the problems are. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know that (you’re not a rocket scientist and neither am I). But I need help from people like you. We’ve got to continue to comment about this problem. So I thank you for engaging and for your email here. This helps me to know that there are others out there that are as aware of the real issues as me.

    Please continue to engage. Your voice is important.

    Sincerely,

    Randall Stone

    Also received a response from the Directory of Public Works:

    Mr. Crocket-

    Good Afternoon. You may be noticing some sand on the surface of several City streets from our crack sealing program that’s currently underway. Crack sealing is a very cost effective asphalt maintenance function that seals up natural cracks in the roadway caused by traffic impacts, expansion/contraction, and overall age. The intent of crack sealing is to prevent water penetration into the roadway surface that results in potholes and accelerated asphalt deterioration. An aggressive crack sealing program will save City streets still in good condition and extend anticipated lifecycles.

    The material we use is an emulsion base that is directly applied to the cracks. Sand is applied on top to prevent emulsion from adhering to vehicle tires and also assists with molding the sealant into the cracks. There is a bit of excess sand that’s ultimately picked up during our normal two-week street sweeper cycles. Crack sealing is a very common street maintenance function that’s practiced by most municipalities that manage roadway infrastructure. I apologize for any unsightliness of the excess sand, but it should be picked up shortly by a street sweeper.

    Thank you and please feel free to contact me directly with further questions or concerns.

    Erik Gustafson

    Director of Public Works – Operations

    City of Chico

    (530) 894-4202 Office

    (530) 895-2634 Fax

    Erik.Gustafson@Chicoca.gov

    • Juanita Sumner March 23, 2016 at 3:28 pm #

      Whoa! I have to read this whole exchange again after I catch my breath.

      Thanks Bart, I appreciate it.

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