City’s budget workshop just the beginning of the sales tax measure campaign – a dog and pony show only with jackasses

12 Mar

The city heads are having an emergency meeting right about now

to discuss barring the public from next Tuesday’s council meeting, citing Gavin Newsome’s recent public health order restricting large public gatherings in the wake of coronavirus. 

But this morning I attended the city’s budget workshop, and I think it was worth the risk. I knew it would be the kick-off for the city’s tax increase campaign, and I wanted to see what, if any, game they got. 

It was comical. First of all, we had almost $500,000 in salaries in that room, chairs and tables all set up for about 50 more people, and well, nobody showed up. Okay, I won’t say NOBODY – I’ll say me, and two other non-staffers. Everybody else in that room was either a city of Chico staffer – 4 –  or a representative of some other agency – 2. And then a guy from Univision, who interviewed Dowell and then taped the meeting. 

The low attendance is hardly surprising. I’m sure Administrative Service Director Scott Dowell would like to think people don’t care, they don’t understand the gravity of the situation – no Scott, most of them are at work from 10 – 11:30 on a weekday.  The timing of this meeting is the epitome of  insincere gesture. 

And even curious-er – no video? 

So, you can stow your claims of wanting “transparency” Mr. Dowell, right where you stow your integrity.  

First Dowell opened the conversation telling us he felt a need to “educate the community” about government accounting – “it’s different than your household accounting…” Of course he kept telling us the CalPERS liability was just like our home mortgage! No Scott, our home mortgage gets paid down, and then it’s done, and then we have a house. The CalPERS liability just keeps getting bigger and bigger as the city doles out crazy salaries and the benefits packages that go along with that.

Here’s how that happens, as explained by a member of Dowell’s staff. I asked how the pensions shares penciled out for a salary of $220,000/year (like our city manager!) Staff responded, 

“A Miscellaneous Classic Employee earning a base salary of $220,000 has a PERS contribution of:

Employer:           $22,517 (10.235%)

Employee:          $24,200 (11.000%)

Total:                     $46,717 (21.235%)

So there you have it folks – for a pension of $154,000/year (70% of $220,000), the employee pays only $24,200/year. The city pays another $22,517, amounting to a grand total of $45,717. For a pension of over $140,000 a year, plus Cost of Living Increase. Leaving the other $107,283/year on the taxpayers. 

Dowell went on a bender about CalPERS, and how “some people” want to get out of CalPERS, but that’s just IMPOSSIBLE! He said he would never go along with such a plan, that it would mean old people going without their pensions. But, then he admitted that CalPERS pensions are “64% funded,” meaning retirees would get at least 64% of their pensions. Then Dowell tried to claim the average pensioner receives between $40 – 50,000/year – that’s bullshit. As he also pointed out, half our budget goes to the cops, the biggest department in the city. They will receive 90% of salaries in excess of $100,000. That hardly points to an average of $40 – 50,000. 

Here’s another mention I had to make.  Mark Orme and some other management staffers also get a special retirement package called a “Fund 457”,  an employer-sponsored, tax-favored retirement savings account. This type of plan is offered to state and local government employees, including police officers, firefighters, and other civil servants.into which they make contributions that are then matched by the city.

According to Orme’s contract, “ City agrees to contribute nine thousand dollars ($9,000), to Employee’s IRC 457 plan. Additionally, effective
October 15,2017, the City agrees to contribute four and fifty- two hundredths percent (4.52%) of base salary to Employee’s IRC 457 plan. 

When I asked about this the staffer became very uncomfortable, tried to deny it, then explained, “Mark Orme gets one because he wasn’t able to get a raise...” The look on her face said she was crapping her pants as we spoke. 

So there it is – they traded him a 457 for salary increases. He’s been frozen at $212,000/year base pay since 2014, and a few years ago he agreed to pay part of the “employer share”  for his pension, but at the same time, council agreed to give him an additional retirement fund – $9,000 a year flat and then a percentage of his salary? And they’ve tried to keep it under the table, all the while Orme claiming he’s been making such a big sacrifice for our financial well-being.  What a dirt bag. 

Well, I’ll pick this up again, stay tuned. Next time I’ll have to tell you about the $3 million plus they found in the couch cushions recently. 








6 Responses to “City’s budget workshop just the beginning of the sales tax measure campaign – a dog and pony show only with jackasses”

  1. Scott Rushing March 12, 2020 at 7:24 pm #

    Hi Juanita: Note the new “Public Information Officer” aka “PIO” for the city. Looks like they have taxpayer money in reserve for new government jobs.

    I believe the police department is fully stocked and still getting there $900 annual gun allowance. An officer gets to buy a personal weapon every year at taxpayer expense, a neat little -hidden from the public- perk. Scott

    On Thu, Mar 12, 2020 at 4:02 PM Chico Taxpayers Association wrote:

    > Juanita Sumner posted: “The city heads are having an emergency meeting > right about now > > to discuss barring the public from next Tuesday’s council meeting, citing > Gavin Newsome’s recent publi” >

  2. Dave March 12, 2020 at 7:37 pm #

    All the city council members are just pawns of the special interests. Hell, just about all of them are members of special interests and feeding at the public trough.

    The city council and the bureaucrats will say whatever they have to say to get this tax increase, even lie to your face. And of course give tens of thousands of your tax dollars to the EMC propaganda firm to con the voters.

    And they love to cite averages because that includes those who worked for the city for under 10 or 15 years so of course their pensions would be low. Their figures should only include the people who spent their careers in government and then compare that to people in the private sector.

    The fact is every new tax and tax increase is a pension and other post employment benefit tax but for these “public servants” that’s an unspeakable truth.

    While our 401k’s get destroyed the bureaucrats expect us to vote to raise our taxes so they can continue on with their ever increasing six figure pensions and other post employment benefits.

    All I can say to that is “OH, HELL NO!”

    • Juanita Sumner March 13, 2020 at 6:06 am #

      Yeah, Orme likes to brag he hasn’t had a raise – that 457 amounts to a $19,000 raise.

  3. Dave March 14, 2020 at 6:18 am #

    CARD still won’t reform its unfunded liabilities.

    Read about it here

    • Juanita Sumner March 14, 2020 at 6:23 am #

      thanks, I was going to post the ER’s take on it when I get a chance.

      Here’s my beef – they scheduled TWO special meetings this week with very little notice, and discussed stuff that wasn’t on any agenda, including Measure A. Now I predict they will cancel next weeks’ public and previously scheduled board meeting, let’s just watch.

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