City $taff putting me off about that “unanticipated revenue” – I’ll just keep asking

2 Apr

When most people find out I don’t have a “job”, they ask the stupidest questions about what I do all day. I would like to say, “I sit all day watching Movies! tv and eating from my Russell Stover sampler. See this ass? It’s made completely out of chocolate and soft centers…”

Cause when I tell people what I really do all day, they think I’m either lying or nuts. And I don’t blame them, cause sometimes I get into some pretty weird conversations with City of Chico staffers. You ask a simple question, know what I mean?

I signed up for the notification list for Silly Council, so every two weeks I get the agenda for the upcoming meeting. Clerk does not have to post the agendas until 72 hours ahead but she’s pretty good about getting them out a week or so ahead, most weeks. 

Because of the CVBS, (coronavirus bullshit), they are again having a “special meeting” on April 7, no public allowed. We are again held off by the forehead, expected to watch the meetings at home and comment online. Even after that last disaster of a meeting, during which Alex Brown was so preoccupied reading her emails (at least that’s what she said she was reading on her little device)  that she had to constantly ask other members of council and staffers to repeat themselves.  So she’s  not really paying attention, and I’m guessing the other council members are doing no better. 

At a real meeting, the public is present and everybody gets their own opportunity to talk, you’re not being compromised to half or less of council’s peewee attention span. 

Special meetings are supposed to be for emergencies, but that is a subjective rule that gets corrupted by many agencies. CARD, for example, wanted to have a conversation about the failure of Measure A without having to suffer the public, so they called TWO emergency meetings in two days, with very little notice, only a week ahead of their regular March board meeting. What a crock. 

So Mark Orme is using CVBS to call “special” meetings at which the public is not allowed. Looking at the latest agenda, I have to ask, where’s the fire? 

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/GeneratedAgendaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=333

First item – approve the list of projects funded by the gas tax, SB1. That’s interesting, you really should read this report, but it’s hardly an emergency in the face of a pandemic. When has $taff treated street repairs like an emergency? 

Second item – weed abatement? Really? 

Third Item – I don’t really understand it, but I think I see enough to know, it’s not an emergency.

“The Butte County Affordable Housing Development Corporation (BCAHDC) is a non-profit
instrumentality of the Housing Authority of the County of Butte (HACB), and received a City loan of
federal HOME funds and a City grant of federal CDBG funds for the Cordillera Apartments in 1998.
The HACB seeks to re-finance and improve the five-building, 20-unit Cordillera Apartments property
consistent with its own portfolio of other properties. Including the Cordillera Apartments, the HACB
has bundled six (6) properties for re-finance, rehabilitation, and leverage purposes, under a proposed
bond issuance. In order to accomplish this most efficiently, the Cordillera property needs to be moved
to HACB possession, so that the public bond issuance can be applied.
The HACB will assume all obligations under the City Loan and Regulatory Agreements with this
assignment and assumption.”

Fourth Item – approval of minutes? You have got to be fucking kidding.

And that’s the Consent Agenda – meaning, no discussion unless a member of council or the public “pulls it” for discussion.

The regular agenda is where it gets very questionable.

Item 5.1 CONSIDERATION OF APPROVAL OF SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION/BUDGET MODIFICATION NO. 2020-ASD-006

The City is projecting to receive unanticipated revenue over budget totaling $1,230,000 during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020.  The City Manager requests consideration and approval of a Supplemental Appropriation/Budget Modification to the FY 2019-20 Budget for use of these one-time funds. (Mark Orme, City Manager)

Recommendation : The City Manager recommends the City Council approval Supplemental Appropriation/Budget Modification No. 2020-ASD-006.

This is very similar to  the item from the cancelled March 17 meeting.

5.3  CONSIDERATION OF APPROVAL OF SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION/BUDGET MODIFICATION
NO. 2020-ASD-006

The City is projecting to receive unanticipated revenue over budget totaling $3,050,000 during the fiscal year ending June 30, 2020. The City Manager requests consideration and approval of a Supplemental Appropriation/Budget Modification to the FY 2019-20 Budget for use of these one-time funds. (Mark Orme, City Manager)

Recommendation: The City Manager recommends the City Council approval Supplemental
Appropriation/Budget Modification No. 2020-ASD-006.

Nearly word-for-word, except one major difference – the figure changes by over $1,800,000. One minute it’s $3,050,000 and less than a month later it’s $1,230,000. 

I think it’s pretty natural and reasonable to wonder, where did that other $1.8 million go? But there’s no explanation in the report either. But there is another discrepancy between the two agenda reports that sheds some light – 

3/17 – $2,550,000 in additional sales tax revenue, $400,000 additional property tax in lieu of vehicle license fees and $100,000 additional short-term rental transient occupancy tax.”

4/7 $730,000 in additional sales tax revenue, $400,000 additional property tax in lieu of vehicle license fees and $100,000 additional short-term rental transient occupancy tax.

Well, there it is – a difference of $1,820,000 in the “additional sales tax revenue”. 

So, was that a mistake? You have to wonder. Here’s what happened when I asked $taff. 

NOTE: There’s also very marked differences in the list of proposed projects to be funded out of this money, but that’s another blog. 

I emailed Scott Dowell first: 

“Hello, My question regarding the 4/7 agenda,  Item 5.1 – what happened to the $3,050,000 reported in the March 17 agenda? Thanks, Juanita Sumner”

Dowell’s response:  “Juanita. The previous agenda item on 3/17 was replaced by this item in the 4/7 agenda.  No action was taken on the 3/17 item. Scott”

That was not an answer, so I asked him again.

“thank you,  Let me get this straight, I hate to spread misinformation: 

  •  Is the $1.2 million on the Apr 7 agenda new money? Is it a separate  from the $3,050,000 mentioned in the Mar 17 agenda? 
  • or is it part of the $3,050,000 from Mar 7 ? 
  • if so, what happened to the other approx $1.8 million from the Mar 17 agenda item? 
  • if not, what happened to that $3,050,000?

I hope my questions are  clear – thank you for your anticipated cooperation in answering my concerns. 

Juanita Sumner”

Dowell’s response #2: 

“Juanita.  In summary.  The original request of $3,050,000 was removed and replaced by a new request of $1,200,000.  Council is only being asked to review the $1,200,000 request.  Scott”

This man is very frustrating, he’s evasive as a rabbit. But you know, a  good old dog has patience, and that’s what I am, a good old dog. So I asked him again.

“I’m sorry, you did not answer my third question, what happened to the other 1.8 million dollars?

Thank you for your anticipated cooperation, Juanita Sumner”

But Dowell is a stubborn rabbit, even when you are standing over his hole and digging him in, he keeps refusing to answer. 

Dowell #3:  “The request was withdrawn by staff at this time.”

Wow, this guy is the slipperyest little bastard I have ever dealt with.  And I’m a landlady in a college town!

I was wondering how to ask again, when a little suggested message popped up in my email – isn’t that creepy? Your computer reads your emails and suggests responses. But this was a good one – “can you tell me why?”  That’s a lot more polite than the response that was swishing around in my mouth, so I sent it.

That’s when Dowell’s Big Bro Mark Orme stepped into the conversation. Wouldn’t that be nice? Some old lady trying to get some honest answers out of you, and all you have to do is call your boss!

Orme’s response was very weird.

Juanita,

I cannot, in good conscience, attempt to appropriate funds to things other than essential needs.  We are dealing with a pandemic and it would be imprudent to expend public tax dollars at a time when I anticipate a decline in city revenues.   This is a logical approach, in my mind, to not entertain expending funds during a time when I need to bolster the ability to ensure essential services remain viable during the anticipated economic contraction from the Coronavirus. 

Good day,

Mark

Remember the question – what happened to the $1.8 million mentioned in the original report in the March 17 agenda? 

I know he’s pissed, I can hear it. He’s trying hysterics. “We are in the middle of a pandemic…” Really? I’ve had kids, that’s not going to cut the mustard with me. So I asked again.

I’m sorry, I am completely confused by your response.  I wasn’t arguing with you about how to spend it. I had asked Mr. Dowell  a question, I don’t know what you are responding to. 

The March 17 agenda says that staff has reported $3,050,000 in “unanticipated revenues” in this year’s budget, “$2,550,000 in additional sales tax revenue, $400,000 additional property tax in lieu of vehicle license fees and $100,000 additional short-term rental transient occupancy tax.” 

The April 7 agenda now reports $1.2 million.  What happened to the other $1.8 million? Was there an accounting error? 

 

Your response also does not make sense in light of the list of proposed uses for the $1.2 million:

 
Community Choice Aggregation Loan $350,000
 BMX Relocation Project  $100,000
 Redistricting Costs  $60,000
 Fire Station #1 Remodel  $250,000
 COVID-19 Contingency $470,000

Total Recommendation: $1,230,000

 

There is only one covid related item here, the others hardly impress me as “essential”. I have to ask, is this proposed April 7 meeting so “essential” that you are suspending the Brown Act? 

 

“COVID-19 Contingency” – could you give some details about that? 

thank you for your anticipated cooperation, Juanita Sumner

So far no answer. I’ll just keep asking. 

 

 

 

 

8 Responses to “City $taff putting me off about that “unanticipated revenue” – I’ll just keep asking”

  1. Christi April 2, 2020 at 1:11 pm #

    how many times can they answer your question with the same answer before your mind finally grasps what they are saying? you really should educate yourself before bullying someone from your bully pulpit. it isn’t fair to attack someone because you don’t understand how government agencies work or at least our local agencies.

    • Juanita Sumner April 3, 2020 at 6:01 am #

      Christi, you should take all your own advice to heart. And then maybe you can tell me – what happened to that $1.8 million?

    • bob April 3, 2020 at 7:25 am #

      ” you don’t understand how government agencies work or at least our local agencies.”

      Do you really think our local government works? Just look at the roads. Then look at the unfunded liabilities. Then look at all the six figure pensions.

      • Juanita Sumner April 3, 2020 at 8:00 am #

        Thanks Bob, this person is just throwing shit, cause that’s all she’s got.

      • bob April 3, 2020 at 9:02 am #

        And I didn’t even mention the garbage tax and all the SB1 money they are getting. And are the roads any better? NO! They’ve gotten worse since the city got all that money!

        And then the local bureaucrats demanding tax increases while people are losing their jobs and businesses are going under.

        IT’S OUTRAGEOUS, CHRISTI.

        AND WE AREN’T GOING TO TAKE IT!

    • Juanita Sumner April 4, 2020 at 5:37 am #

      No response from Christi?

  2. bob April 2, 2020 at 6:42 pm #

    Why won’t they answer your simple question? What are they trying to hide?

    And look at this
    6.1.

    CITY MANAGER’S REPORT – Verbal Report, City Manager Orme
    > Homelessness
    > COVID 19 Update
    > Sales Tax Initiative

    The city council might be having second thoughts about the sales tax increase but the bureaucrats want to charge ahead with it. After all, Constantin said it is “absolutely needed.” They couldn’t care less that people are losing their jobs and their 401ks are being destroyed. All they care about is their Cadillac pensions.

    And look at 6.2. Is the entire world suing the city of Chico?

    Why is that in closed session and how come we never hear about the outcomes of all these lawsuits against the city?

    I’m sure there are plenty of high priced settlements we never hear about. The taxpayers just take it in the shorts and those city employees responsible get off scott-free. And we never hear about any of it. I wonder how many millions or probably tens of millions we’ve had to pay out in legal settlements over the years.

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