Finance Committee meeting shows how out-of-touch council members are with their constituents – they want to raise the cost of everything to secure the pensions

25 Mar

I had my 61st birthday recently, and I realized, I need to challenge myself more. COVID has put me back in my little cocoon, and I was getting too happy in there. Yesterday I tried something new – I participated in a Zoom meeting of Chico Finance Committee.

I hated it. Zoom is no substitute for in-person meetings. It’s hard to set-up, you have to sign in at least a half hour ahead. The quality of the feed is poor, and the idiots on the other end were no help. Andrew Coolidge talked while others were talking, including the expensive consultant, without turning off his microphone. That was like listening to old landline phones. On the other hand, Sean Morgan repeatedly spoke with his mike turned off, at least three times people had to tell him to turn it back on. When they were discussing the rent control measure, Andrew Coolidge said, “Here’s my opinion on the gross receipts model…” , and the microphone abruptly turned off. I missed his entire comment, I don’t know if anybody heard it.

When I complained that my sound was being cut off, Morgan, committee chair, laughed and suggested I had “weak internet“. Yeah, I’ll tell you what, Sean Morgan has weak internet, that guy is an entitled creep who has no connection with the struggles of his constituents.

No, it wasn’t my computer, or my internet, because within 15 minutes after the meeting was over, I e-filed my federal and state tax forms without a blip.

An attendee who identified himself only as “Taxpayer” repeatedly asked staff and the committee why the meetings weren’t being taped, but he was given only a standard response – “we have never taped the meetings…” And that was it.

When I told the committee they should open the meetings, Morgan told me that was up to the governor.

Well, Mayor F-Bomb, you are either stupid or lying (both, is what I’m guessing). In Shasta County, two supervisors out of 5 voted to open meetings. The other three members of the board voted NO, so that didn’t carry. But here in Chico, we have a “Conservative Super Majority” of 5 to 2. Those five promised they would bring down the liberal hold on our town. But now what, afraid of a governor who has had his testicles handed to him on a plate?

No, it’s easy to figure why they want the meetings, especially these poorly attended morning meetings, to remain unattended and unseen. Look at the agenda – taxes, taxes, more taxes, and taxes that don’t need any voter approval.

Read the staff report, and the consultant’s report. Read ALL of it. I could tell that neither Coolidge nor Morgan had read it (Huber stayed mostly silent, except to say he is firmly in favor of raising everybody’s cost of living to fund the pensions). No member of the group was familiar with the excerpt that referred to rent control.

No, they didn’t use the words “rent control” – they’re not stupid. But maybe you can tell me what this means:

Rental Registration/Compliance Programs

A rental registration program provides the City an opportunity to track and maintain rental property compliance separate to, or in conjunction with, business license requirements. HdL offers a wide variety of services designed to assist cities with managing varying aspects of property oversight. These range from implementing and managing a simple registration and information gathering program, to a more detailed rental program that tracks compliance with rent stabilization ordinances and the intricate requirements that go hand in hand with tracking compliance with local or state law.

Read the whole passage – this ordinance is setting us up for rent control, and the consultant is pitching for the job of enforcing it:

Option 2 – Full Rental Compliance Program – is a turn-key program in which HdL (the consultant) monitors and enforces unit level regulations, responds to tenant complaints, and performs unit inspections for compliance. Each unit requires its own account to track individual units with the unit’s tenant, enforcement of rent increase, amenity offerings, and other ordinance requirements.

And, is that a typo – “enforcement of rent increase…” – or what?

They all denied there was any attempt at rent control in this ordinance, which left me wondering, doubting, that they actually read any of it. They kept saying they wanted to make business license fees more “up to date” and “equitable”. But the wording in the report says “rent control”.

And of course, a “rental tax”, which they will use to keep other business taxes lower. That’s where they bring “equity” into the conversation. I like to call it a “tenant tax,” because that’s who is going to pay it.

The consultant explained that other businesses, particularly retail, pay their dues in sales tax generation. Well, who pays that sales tax? The vendor hands it over to the state, but it’s not coming out of his/her pocket, it’s coming out of the consumer’s pocket. The renter, and the landlord. We all pay sales tax. And landlords pay a butt-ton of property taxes. Sales and property tax are the number one revenues coming into the city.

By the way, according to the “comprehensive” monthly finance report made at the end of every one of these meetings (and available in full in the agenda), both sales and property tax revenues are up since the Camp Fire in November 2018. According to finance department staffer Barbara Mendes,

  1. there was a “minor dip” in sales tax receipts” at the beginning of the COVID shut-down, ” but we’re rebounding… 4th quarter 6.8 million… impact of COVID is levelling out...” That’s $6.8 for one quarter, the annual takings have actually been over projections. Remember how Orme cried poormouth about having to endure the Camp Fire refugees, but at the end of that fiscal year, July 2019, there was a $20 million surplus?
  2. the last two stimulus payments from the feds actually made a blip on the radar, and “next quarter we’ll see the impact of the upcoming stimulus payments…” But Orme still cries poormouth at every city council meeting – he even had the nerve to complain about the refugees from the more recent Berry Creek fire. As if those people aren’t living here, generating sales tax, and now spending their stimulus checks here.
  3. Here’s another after-effect of the California wildfires – home sales are up, prices are up, and Mendes reports this has been a nice little windfall for Chico finances. “We get a portion of property transfer tax with deed recordings – we get $5.55 from every $1000″ of the value of the sale. Furthermore, she reported that the average price of homes in Chico has jumped up quite a bit, “median price up 8%… we’ll see an increase in prop taxes again next year…”
  4. And then there’s the RDA – the city gets a portion of projected property taxes for all of Butte County – this year, Mendes reported, “ property values in the RDA area (city of Chico) raised higher than in unincorporated areas (the county) – 5% – so we got more RDA than we anticipated…”

Yes, housing prices and expenses are already way up, and all city staff is hearing is the “Ka-CHING!” ringing in their ears. At a time like this, to purposefully raise the cost of living for people struggling under onerous regulations is just unbelievable.

I’ll stop here, and come back later with more of the discussion from the committee members. Remind me to tell you about the conversation in which Coolidge admitted the sales tax increase would go to secure the bonds.

3 Responses to “Finance Committee meeting shows how out-of-touch council members are with their constituents – they want to raise the cost of everything to secure the pensions”

  1. bob March 25, 2021 at 10:33 am #

    So-called conservative or progressive, makes no difference, they all want higher taxes for the public employee unions who pay for their campaigns, among other things.

    And noticed, not one of them mentioned the plan to raise all these taxes and take on all this new debt during the campaign.

    And the idiot voters elected them and will probably re-elect them.

  2. Scott Rushing March 25, 2021 at 8:09 pm #

    Hi Juanita: Once again, you are on to several important issues. The city staff and friends on the council love the COVID that gives them an excuse for secret meetings without violating the Brown Act. The Hdl company is simply a vulture consulting firm offering to craft and run a hidden tax increase to help finance the obscene pensions of government employees and fund the Chico PD’s fat costs, (and cover the legal fees and settlement charges from trigger happy cops.) Orme is not managing the city, he is a fundraiser. It appears the council does not understand or is disinterested in administering the city as the proper stewards of taxpayer funds. You probably remember I am a real esrate broker and property manager so I am well aware of rent control and the city intruding on private property rights. Landlords will end up managing heavily taxed and regulated rental properties and turn the money/profits/cash flow over to government officials. Landlords get the work and liability, the government gets the rent. Keep writing and poking the bear. Good work! Best- Scott R.

    On Thu, Mar 25, 2021 at 10:01 AM Chico Taxpayers Association wrote:

    > Juanita Sumner posted: ” I had my 61st birthday recently, and I realized, > I need to challenge myself more. COVID has put me back in my little cocoon, > and I was getting too happy in there. Yesterday I tried something new – I > participated in a Zoom meeting of Chico Finance Commit” >

    • Juanita Sumner March 26, 2021 at 5:45 am #

      Thanks again Scott – yes, they love the cover of COVID, just as thieves love the cover of darkness. Council is a bunch of incompetent egomaniacs who rely on a city manager who sees his job as perpetuating the gravy train for himself and his cronies. We don’t have law enforcement, we have a rackett.

      Yeah, you got it Scott, I was born to poke the bear – I’m a Badger!

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