“This is how democracy fails…”

30 Apr

I notice a lot of people are writing letters to the editor these days – so many, apparently, Enterprise Record staffers can’t keep up!  You’d think they’d run more letters per day, maybe expand the letters page. Instead they wait until they have an enormous backlog and folks are complaining and then they barf a bunch of letters all at once, like they did this morning. 

The result being, at least two letters about the Orange Street “low barrier” shelter that would have been pertinent a week ago but are now moot because the Jesus Center announced yesterday they will not be pursuing that idea.  And, in a pile like they printed this morning, important letters can be overlooked.  Here’s a letter that warrants a good read:

Don’t Fall for the City Council’s Tax Increase Lies

In FY 2017-18 city revenues grew at 7.4%. Director Dowell told the City Council revenue growth is expected to continue. Yet Director Orme said the city has a revenue problem that requires tax increases. Despite increased revenue the City continues to let our infrastructure crumble.

Mayor Stone tells us city employee compensation costs will double in less than ten years and CalPERs will be devouring 25% of the City’s budget by 2023. (That assumes an unrealistic CalPERS 7% return rate.) Stone admits this is unsustainable.

The obvious answer: pension reform.

Instead the City Council is giving tens of thousands of your tax dollars to a PR firm to sell you a tax increase. Their pitch will be that the money is needed to fund infrastructure and public safety. That’s a lie. It’s needed because for years the City has put unrealistic pension promises ahead of everything else and the City Council has no intention of changing that.

Other cities in California have taken the same approach. Instead of fixing the problem the result has been demands for even higher taxes.

Initial estimates indicate the City Council’s tax increase would cost a family of four an extra $1200 a year. This in a county with a 21% poverty rate where city bureaucrats have pensions worth millions. It’s unconscionable.

This is how democracy fails. The people need to let the city’s politicians know loudly and clearly that this will not be tolerated. Email debbie.presson@chicoca.gov to voice your disapproval to the entire Council.

Dave Howell, Chico

Dave Howell is right – democracy can’t work when the voters are willfully misinformed by their elected and appointed officials. City staffers talk out of both sides of their mouths. If you listen to the propaganda blitz in the local media, you hear we are nearly broke and need a tax measure, but attend a meeting, or read a report, and you see that city revenues are constantly growing.

Utility Tax revenues, for example, are projected to increase almost a million dollars a year. Every time PG&E and Cal Water rates go up the city cash registers are ringing. The flurry of home sales and now new construction are bloating city coffers with higher property taxes and new home  fees. And new housing will provide more utility tax, it’s just an endless cycle. 

But even with a healthy revenue stream our self-serving staff can’t pay their outrageous pensions without gutting services all over town? But they manage to come up with $8 million a year – siphoned out of even “dedicated funds” –  to pay down the pension deficit? Pensions eat 18% of our budget. 

Council tells us they’ve achieved pension reform – they asked staff to pay another 3 percent, making employee share a BFD figure of 11 percent. We, the taxpayers, are on the hook for the rest. Time to take that hook out of your mouth and demand REAL pension reform – meaning, all employees, not just new hires, must pay their own pensions. Or they need to hit the road.

Employees, including city mismanager Mark Orme and his wrecking crew, must go before council every year to have their contracts renewed. Why do we allow them to keep renewing  these contracts without demanding that they pay their own pensions?

Like Howell says, ask your council members about that. 

4 Responses to ““This is how democracy fails…””

  1. Jim April 30, 2019 at 7:16 am #

    Speaking of rate increases. Because of the new construction, we are running out of ground water. When that happens, CalWater has plans to run a pipeline out to Lake Oroville to supply drinking water. That will be expensive, and guess who will pay, the rate payers of course.

    • Juanita Sumner April 30, 2019 at 9:02 am #

      Thanks for keeping me informed Jim, I feel like I’d have to have eyes in the back of my head to catch everything. That’s really distressing, I don’t remember there being a groundwater discussion at any Planning Commission or city council meeting when a new subdivision is up for approval. It’s just build, build, build. New housing is their Golden Goose, and one day I’m afraid they’re going to kill it.

  2. Dave April 30, 2019 at 2:33 pm #

    Thanks for posting my letter.

    Here is an absolutely must read article by Binninger on the pension situation.

    Every member of the city council should read this since they all want a tax increase. Ory wants two tax increases so he should read it twice.

    Here’s just one paragraph from the article that sums up the situation:

    These enhancements are part of the reason that governments in this state are actually bankrupt and are using short-term borrowing and local tax increases to postpone going into receivership. The truth is that the state pension system is nonsensical, unaffordable and corrupt.

    https://www.eterritorial.com/47-guest-writers/lou-binninger/15020-are-public-pensions-fair

    • Juanita Sumner April 30, 2019 at 2:44 pm #

      Thanks Dave, great letter. And Binninger is right, CalPERS and STRS are corrupt and should be shut down. Someday people will look back and ask “How did we let that happen? “

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