Orme and Dowell want to take the city of Chico on a Tax-stravaganza

25 May

Tomorrow the Chico Finance Committee is meeting, again, CLOSED in a room with public participation limited to Zoom, to discuss the smorgasbord of taxes and fee increases brought forward by city manager Mark Orme and Administrative Services (Finance) Director Scott Dowell. I will try to “attend” on Zoom, but in the meantime I wrote a letter to the ER.

The city of Chico is embarking on an unprecedented “tax-stravaganza”. At the 5/26/21 Finance Committee meeting, Mark Orme and Scott Dowell brought forth an incredible list of tax measures and fee increases for council’s consideration, including a sales tax increase, and new cell phone tax. Staff also suggested raising sewer fees by implementing volume charges, raising the transient occupancy tax, and increasing franchise fees on PG&E, the waste haulers, and other service providers. Mayor Coolidge has also suggested a road bond.

The common thread here is the pension deficit. Staff is desperate to pay CalPERS, to save pensions into which they have contributed less than 15% for 70-90% of their highest year’s pay.

The city has been receiving more sales tax, property tax, developer fees, and Utility Tax revenues every year as development brings more people to Chico. Instead of maintaining and improving infrastructure, Staff has poured these funds into their pension deficit, $11,500,000 this year, by 2025, $13,000,000. This money is allocated from all the department funds, at the expense of infrastructure and services.

Instead of pursuing new taxes that will hurt our local economy, council needs to switch from CalPERS’ defined benefit plan to a defined contribution plan, like 401Ks. Why should the taxpayers but never the employees bear the burden of the risks taken by CalPERS? The POB scheme, which Dowell admits is “gambling”, puts ALL the burden on the taxpayers, forever. Any new revenues will go to the pension obligation first.

We’re paying Staff for nothing but perpetuating their own retirement system.

Juanita Sumner, Chico

19 Responses to “Orme and Dowell want to take the city of Chico on a Tax-stravaganza”

  1. Dave May 25, 2021 at 8:55 pm #

    And remind again why the city clerk just got a car allowance? In the private sector you don’t get a car allowance unless you’re on the road a lot. Does her job require her to travel much? Of course not.

    And they’ve hired more expensive bureaucrats when this city can’t afford the bureaucrats it already has.

    If Coolidge gets every new tax and tax increase he is pushing it still won’t make the pensions sustainable.

    But if it did he’d just demand even more later for more raises and higher pensions and of course for more bureaucrats.

    No matter how much these parasites take, it will never be enough.

  2. Dave May 25, 2021 at 8:56 pm #

    And remind me again why the city clerk just got a car allowance? In the private sector you don’t get a car allowance unless you’re on the road a lot. Does her job require her to travel much? Of course not.

    And they’ve hired more expensive bureaucrats when this city can’t afford the bureaucrats it already has.

    If Coolidge gets every new tax and tax increase he is pushing it still won’t make the pensions sustainable.

    But if it did he’d just demand even more later for more raises and higher pensions and of course for more bureaucrats.

    No matter how much these parasites take, it will never be enough.

    Your comment is awaiting moderation.

  3. Jim May 26, 2021 at 6:48 am #

    These people can’t think of enough ways to screw the taxpayers.

    • Juanita Sumner May 26, 2021 at 9:40 am #

      I don’t know Jim, you never want to underestimate the power of bald-faced greed.😄

  4. Stephen Jackson May 26, 2021 at 3:17 pm #

    Juanita, love the work you do…please don’t stop. I’d love to meet you for a cup of coffee and a discussion comparing City of Huntington Beach CA to that of Chico CA (arguably best and worst budgets) from a perspective of fiscal responsibility.

    • Juanita Sumner May 27, 2021 at 5:57 am #

      I’m familiar with Huntington Beach,.my kid played in travel sports and they had a couple of tournaments there. How would you describe their budget?

      • Stephen Jackson May 28, 2021 at 4:46 pm #

        In 2017, the Fiscal Times ranked City of Huntington Beach 94 of a possible 100, 100 being highest fiscal strength score, Irvine rated a 100 score. In several different searches related to “fiscal responsibility, populations under 100k, responsible government”, two CA cities seemed to be in the returns…Huntington Beach and Santa Ana. I’m no subject matter expert on government budgets, but I do know government and fraud. I meant what I said, I’ll bring their budget summaries to you, and I’ll buy the coffee. Perhaps we can highlight what a fiscally responsible budget looks like for the City of Chico…?

      • Juanita Sumner May 29, 2021 at 5:57 am #

        How much do your employees pay toward their benefits? How much do the citizens pay? What are taxes like in your town?

        I just googled it – Huntington beach is one of the most expensive cities in the entire United States, with a cost of housing at 248% of the national average.

        Stephen, do you work for a public entity?

  5. Travis May 26, 2021 at 6:30 pm #

    This study began in 2015 with a rudimentary public engagement, to establish the objectives of the study. Subsequent work had evolved; however, due to the impacts of the 2018 Camp Fire, the study was halted due to staffing resource limitations. City staff have now completed technical studies and analyses and are looking to receive some direction from policy makers on items that have variability, so that the sewer rate analysis report can be completed with the appropriate costs associated with the supported scope of work.
    This report does not include any consideration on future impacts of a potential Paradise Sewer connection. That process and project are ongoing, but no specific data and considerations are known at this point. That process will take several years and once that point comes, staff will evaluate independently and adjust accordingly.
    Specifically, the following are the public meetings that have been held to date on this topic:
    2015 – December 2nd – Finance Committee: Presentation of Sewer Mission, Vision and
    – 2016 – January 5th – City Council: Adoption of Chico Sanitary Sewer and Treatment System
    Mission, Vision and Objectives (Reliable, Sustainable and cost-effective sewer system for
    – 2017 – October 17th – City Council: SA/BM – Create CIP# 50367 – Sewer Enterprise Study – 2018 – January 16th – City Council: Sole Source Contract Approval – Carollo Engineers
    The sewer enterprise program costs are broken down into three categories:
    1. Water Pollution Control Plant (WPCP)
    a. Operations Costs (State permit compliance, facility maintenance, equipment,
    chemicals, testing, staffing, etc.)
    b. Capital Improvements (replacement of aging infrastructure to ensure proper operations)
    2. Collection System (Piping Network) – Currently at approximately 400 miles of piping
    a. Operations Costs (annual cleaning program, maintenance/repairs, SSO’s, video, utility
    locating for outside work near piping)
    b. Capital Improvements – Annual replacement of pipe segments that have exceeded their
    life expectancy (60 years for Vitrified Clay Pipe (VCP) and 100 years for PVC)
    3. Storm Water related operations – i.e. prevention of material / waste from entering sewer system
    a. Trash Management Plan Implementation (Per adopted)
    b. Street Sweeping / Organic matter collection
    c. Capital Replacement of collection piping that could result in additional 1&1

    FC – Sewer Enterprise Study and Rate Analysis Meeting Date: 05/26/21
    Page 3
    Staff is looking for clear direction from policy makers and will incorporate the preferred alternatives of the program that have opportunities for variability into the report. Below are the items of discussion that staff are requesting direction on:
    1. Inclusion of pavement treatments when performing pipeline replacement (similar to Nitrate Compliance Program)?
    a. When doing replacement projects on piping that has exceeded its life expectancy, should the costs of performing a slurry seal treatment to the entire roadway within the limits of trenching be included? If not, a trench repave would be the finish product. This can also lead to failed edges in roadway segments that already have really poor pavement conditions.
    b. FISCAL IMPACT: If desired to include roadway surfacing, it is estimated that this would increase the annual funding need by $5,000,000 per year (or an estimated $12.00- $14.00 per month per household).
    2. Consider modifying user rate methodology to a consumption-based application?
    a. Currently, residential users are charged a flat monthly rate. However, the size and
    demand from residential users varies greatly. Therefore, a consumption-based rate charges based on winter months usage (similar to how commercial properties are charged). Would require coordination with Cal-Water to ensure they can accommodate this change as they handle administrative functions for billings. Consumption based rates can vary more as well, compared to flat rates.
    b. FISCAL IMPACT: No fiscal impacts with this option; however, likely to include an increase in administrative costs.
    3. Include Annual cost index increases in the newly adopted rate?
    a. The last rate was adopted in 2011 and did not include annual increases associated with
    inflation on labor, materials and equipment, which has further divided the revenue generation needed to adequately fund maintenance of the sewer system.
    4. Include storm water related components that are tied to sewer functions? a. This would include:
    i. Engineering and Operations & Maintenance staffing for program management ii. Trash Management Plan implementation for trash collection projects to reduce
    iii. Annual creek and waterway testing to ensure clean water is not contaminated with wastewater uses
    b. FISCAL IMPACT: Would cost approximately $1,850,000 per year (or an estimated $4.50 per month for each user)
    With direction on these topics, staff will finalize the sewer enterprise report and return to a future Finance Committee for consideration. If approved by the Finance Committee, the report would then proceed to the City Council for consideration. Sewer rate adoptions are regulated by the State of California and the Proposition 218 process. This generally includes approval by the City Council, then a 45-day public noticing period in which notices are mailed to all of those within the service area. Once the public noticing period is completed, a public hearing at a City Council meeting is held to count the protest votes. If 50% of the ballots sent out do not receive protest votes, then the new rate will be adopted and implemented at a time in the future, in compliance with the Proposition 218 process.

    FC – Sewer Enterprise Study and Rate Analysis Meeting Date: 05/26/21
    Page 4
    Reviewed by:
    Brendan Ottoboni, Director of Public Works – Engineering
    DISTRIBUTION: City Clerk (3)
    Approved and recommended by:

    • Travis May 26, 2021 at 6:32 pm #

      Looks like there going to clean homeless camps and repave roads with sewer funding.

      • Juanita Sumner May 27, 2021 at 6:03 am #

        Thanks Travis, I had not had time to read this. Frankly I didn’t have to read the report to know it’s a stupid f****** idea. One minute they were telling us during the Paradise evacuation that the refugees were overwhelming our sewer. Now they’re telling us they’ve got room for the entire town! Thanks for sending this, anybody can see how they subjectively decide how much money they’re going to need and what they’re going to do with it.

  6. Dave May 27, 2021 at 5:45 am #

    From today’s ER:

    New Chico tax measures could be coming as next year’s budget to be set


    All sorts of tax increases. Sewer fees could go be increased 22.98 per month.

    And of course, as usual, the media spreads Orme’s lies

    ,Orme and Morgan said the city is not intending revenue anticipated from tax increases to be used for pension obligation costs, and it should be directed straight to public improvement projects.

    And of course, no mention of the fact that they been siphoning off many, many millions of dollars every year from the necessities, like the roads, into the pensions.

    The media in this corrupt little city is almost as disgusting as the corrupt local government.

    • Juanita Sumner May 27, 2021 at 6:05 am #

      Thanks Dave. I also noticed that the POB Forum notification you sent me is full of lies and omissions. I’ll try to post that later today.

      • Dave May 27, 2021 at 6:12 am #

        You scooped the ER and you told the TRUTH.

        THANK YOU!

        The people of Chico have liars and thieves on their City Council. And if they do nothing about what these liars and thieves are doing they are fools.

      • Juanita Sumner May 27, 2021 at 6:20 am #

        I haven’t read the ER today, I don’t have a subscription anymore. I figured, why pay for that s***? But I will try to check it oh, just to see what kind of crap they’re peddling these days. I gave up on Natalie Hansen a long time ago. I sent her pictures of how badly PG&E was clearing the power lines in the foothills, and she was too busy spreading her s*** about the Beloved homeless population to even respond. I also sent her a guy who has evidence that they’re dumping toxic chemicals on local school grounds, she led him on for weeks, and then told the man the Er wasn’t going to go up against the school district. Little Natalie is not a journalist, she’s just another shill like her boss.

  7. Stephen Jackson May 28, 2021 at 5:02 pm #

    Juanita, if you want to see what local government is doing for us, I invite you and your readers to visit the YouTube channel titled “Butte County Pollution” (https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=butte+county+pollution). Watch from first hand accounts what county-inspired government pollution looks like….24M gallons of leachate contaminated storm water pollution into Hamlin Slough/Butte Creek and untold amounts of greenhouse gases/methane discharged in violation of county operating permits, and in violation of state/federal regulations. Gross violations of landfill methane rules and a little law called “The Clean Water Act”….all bought and paid for by county managers and covered up by county supervisors. State Water Board says county landfill is responsible for fines of $10 per gallon ($240M fines). This has been one of the best kept secrets of local government and must change. Will Rogers said it best, when he said “I don’t make jokes…I just watch the government and report the facts”

    • Juanita Sumner May 29, 2021 at 5:53 am #

      Thanks for all this, I’ll send a note to my supervisor.

  8. Stephen Jackson June 1, 2021 at 7:59 am #

    Juanita, I am a Butte County resident (since 2008), retired military investigator and Butte County employed whistleblower. As I mentioned previously, I am not a financial analyst, but I do know about bad governance and failed leadership. These POB’s are like playing musical chairs and our local officials are doing whatever they can to keep the music going (long enough for them to do their 3 years of highest pay) without getting caught (when the music stops). Chico residents should be outraged that local government wants more money (increased taxes) while shamelessly proposing failed financial tactics (such as the POB’s). The City of Chico is writing “non-sufficient funds” (NSF) checks to keep their checking account alive, its a Ponzi scheme and it is time to take legal action against the city to STOP the POB’s and demand an audit, and correct the course.

    • Juanita Sumner June 1, 2021 at 9:05 am #

      Sorry, I was confused by your previous comments, I thought you were touting the city of Huntington Beach.

      Musical chairs is a great analogy for this situation. Our staff has no accountability, they just move along to another town, taking their pension with them. I hope you will put your thoughts into an email to council. And then send it to the Enterprise Record. We need to spread the word about this scam.

      I’m still trying to figure out how to go about “legal action”, I’ll get back on that.

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