Tax measures are piling up on California ballots – get informed, get involved!

22 Nov

The March 2020 ballot will bring tax measures to towns and counties all over the state. In Chico we’re looking at a 1 cent sales tax increase from the city and a parcel tax from the rec district. I was just watching a story on Ch 7 news about the 1 cent sales tax measure proposed by Shasta County supervisors and staff. And a friend of mine was just telling me that Yuba Community College District has a FIFTH bond measure on the ballot – and get a load of this – that district extends into Butte county. 

When my friend mentioned that, I realized, AGAIN, how little I know about stuff. That is a constant recurring event in my life, the book I could write about stuff I don’t know about. I started this blog to get people involved, but what I ended up with is a 7 year chronicle of an average educated taxpaying citizen who tries to understand the government. 

As I talked to my friend I suddenly remembered – my uncle was a PR man for Yuba College, back when community colleges were in their infancy, an idea that still needed to be sold to the public. My uncle’s job involved driving all over the surrounding countryside – to little towns like Colusa, Williams, Clear Lake, Esparto – trying to convince the local leaders they should buy in and establish a “satellite campus” in their town. It could be at the high school gym, or any available building. He was a great pitch man.

He used to take us along in tow – free food, and getting us out of my aunt’s hair for the day. I thought it was all about bringing education to the sticks, and I believe my uncle believed that too. But what it resulted in was a district that can put a tax on your house. 

There’s all kinds of districts. CARD is a district. It’s funny how that works. As CARD manager Ann Willmann told people at those poorly attended “informational” meetings, the district goes a short distance beyond the city of Chico boundaries. That is their assessable area, and everybody in that section would get the parcel tax.

Then there’s the “area of influence.” Willmann’s map shows the area of influence going over to the Tehama County line to the north, and into Cohasset and Forest Ranch to the east. These are the people who benefit most – they don’t pay the tax, they pay artificially low user fees subsidized, mostly, by city of Chico property owners. 

I can’t post the map, I had to ask Willmann (  for it, and she got it from LAFCO (Butte County). It shows that the sphere is a lot bigger than the district, and includes some of the wealthiest neighborhoods in Chico, including the unincorporated neighborhoods in North Chico. These are the people who use DeGarmo Park. Willmann listed DeGarmo Park as a big benefactor of the proposed parcel tax. For people who don’t pay taxes in the district?

The whole idea of a parcel tax or a bond is to spread the cost of something wanted by a very small portion of the population out onto the general population who does not benefit from the services offered. The theory is, these taxes are so miniscule that nobody will notice, and if they do, they would feel stupid to complain. It’s for the public good, after all!

Well these chiggers add up. Chico Unified has put three bonds on our homes in the last 20 years, adding up to over $100,000,000 in DEBT. And within months of the passage of each bond, CUSD finance manager Kevin Bultema has announced raises for teachers, demands for more pension payments, and threats to cut programs for the kids if the district doesn’t get a new revenue source. I believe they only decided not to put a bond on the 2020 ballot because the city and CARD asked them to hold off. I believe they will put a bond on a future ballot, within the next four years. 

And then there’s Butte Community College District. Between the two of them, I have five notations on my home property tax bill, totaling almost $800 a year.  Just school bonds.

Then the mosquito district comes along and throws on another tick for $21. $21? For what? They don’t spray in town, why are we paying that? Because the Butte County Mosquito and Vector District director gets a salary of over $142,000/year but only pays 3% of his pension. An agency with 17 full time employees has a pension deficit in the millions, even while paying nearly half a million a year in premiums. And because they were smart, and made a district, drew the lines, so now they have a direct feed into your wallet. 

Californians pay more taxes than most of the other 50 states. We’ve been asleep at the wheel.  It’s time to stand up, pay attention, and stop these blatant grabs. The Chico sales tax increase and CARD parcel tax are a  good opportunity to PUSH BACK. Write letters to the editors at and, tell people what’s going on.  Then write to Chico city council at and CARD board members at  Tell them you know this is just a grab for pensions and you’re not buying it. 

Look at your receipts from the grocery store. Soap, shampoo, detergent – 7 cents on the dollar, and they want to make it 8 cents. That adds up folks, especially for bigger families.  The bigger purchases like clothes, appliances, furniture and cars may not be as regular but will add up more quickly. They say you won’t pay sales tax on food or medicine, but watch out for prepared food – a sandwich from the deli, that roasted chicken at the grocery store – that’s taxed. So are over the counter medications like pain, fever, and allergy medicines, antiseptics and bandages – all that stuff is taxed. 

And you home owners should look at your property tax bill. I know a lot of people pay it through their mortgage company, and I wonder if they ever look at the bill. I know some people just feel so overwhelmed with life, they’re afraid to look. And, I know people who rent are not aware of what they pay, and they do pay, because taxes are a cost that landlords pass along in rent. 

Informed voters make the best choices. Get informed and get involved, don’t just stand by wringing your hands as Chico becomes too expensive for working people. 





5 Responses to “Tax measures are piling up on California ballots – get informed, get involved!”

  1. Scott Rushing November 22, 2019 at 12:31 pm #

    Excellent article Juanita. You are “hitting home” with your thoughts. I hope the public is not too busy to listen and learn. Scott Rushing

    On Fri, Nov 22, 2019 at 1:55 PM Chico Taxpayers Association wrote:

    > Juanita Sumner posted: “The March 2020 ballot will bring tax measures to > towns and counties all over the state. In Chico we’re looking at a 1 cent > sales tax increase from the city and a parcel tax from the rec district. I > was just watching a story on Ch 7 news about the 1 cent s” >

    • Juanita Sumner November 22, 2019 at 12:50 pm #

      what’s really sad, our local government has purposely let our town slide into the toilet in order to trick us into raising our taxes.

      It’s up to people like us to demand accountability, I appreciate what you are doing Scott.

  2. Dave November 23, 2019 at 10:26 am #

    I agree but I’m afraid the majority of people in this community are completely clueless. When you try to tell them what’s going on they just have that deer in the headlights look.

    And even more infuriating is that they aren’t willing to do anything, not even vote. And the corrupt bureaucrats and politicians of this community know that. Hell, Orme told Joe Azzarito most people don’t vote and he’s right.

    And the majority who do vote are either people feeding at the public trough or believe the propaganda the bureaucrats, politicians and media tell them. For instance, this week the ER was telling us the reasons the roads are in such bad shape and can’t be fixed now is because of the Camp Fire. No mention that the roads went to Hell well before the Camp Fire because the city has been deferring road maintenance for well over a decade.

    And Huber said in the April 16 city council meeting that if the people don’t pass tax increases they just won’t have decent roads. And this week one of the bureaucrats at CARD said basically the same thing: no tax increases, no park maintenance.

    In essence, these criminals are holding our public infrastructure hostage to tax increases because tax money that should go for maintenance and other vital programs is being spent on unsustainable employee compensation, especially the ridiculous pensions and raises. And the criminals on the city council and at CARD have no intention of changing that. Hell, they’ve got away with it for a very long time so why change now?

    And to make matters even worse, both CARD and the city are going to use revenue from these tax increases to get hundreds of millions more in debt! This is just criminal but of course no local media even mentioned it! (And let’s not forget that CARD’s tax increase goes up every year forever.)

    Face it, this city is run by criminals and there’s little chance of that changing because the community is made of apathetic ignoramuses and brainwashed sheep.

    Well, they better wake up, especially the young ones. Here’s an article that has some very good points that young people should carefully read and consider even though it does understate the problems.

    Opinion: Why millennials should care about government pensions — even if they don’t have one

  3. Donna Chang November 25, 2019 at 10:30 am #

    Thank you Juanita, Bob and Dave. Sales tax is a tax on the poor, which, due to your dogged research, we know is largely given to the rich.

    Anecdote: Bay area sales tax is 10%. When I bought a car in 2008 in Burlingame the finance guy mistakenly charged me sales tax based on my former Chico address. I saved $250. (A week later I started getting frantic voicemails asking me to give him my credit card number. I laughed.)

    • Juanita Sumner November 25, 2019 at 5:03 pm #

      Good anecdote Donna – it really adds up on the big ticket items. And I’m terrible, but I’ll say – who doesn’t like to hear a story about a car salesman getting his pants caught on his own pitchfork?!

      You’re right, sales tax isn’t just paid by rich tourists. Working families pay plenty, and college students and young working people too. My kids are struggling at poorly paying jobs, and they have talked to me about going without everyday items like shampoo and deodorant because they were just too expensive. I see elderly people, in their 70’s and 80’s, with faces of disgust and anxiety as they move around the grocery store. They never could have saved enough money to be ready for what these public salaries would do the economy. Adding a sales tax increase to that is just medievel.

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