City’s new budget, as usual, puts the pensions ahead of everything else

20 May

The word for the day is “stagflation”. There will be a quiz later.

City of Chico passed a new budget the other night. When my family does a budget, we write down all the stuff we usually spend money on and see where we might be able to tighten our belts, you know, quit eating out, quit buying new clothes, don’t use the car too much, etc. When the city of Chico makes their budget, they look at how much money is or might be available, and then go about finding ways to spend it.

And in my family, when we come into a windfall, we think of ways to spend it that will have long term benefits, like fix the roof or update the plumbing. You know, spend money to save money. But look at some of the drunken sailor on Saturday night kind of spending the city of Chico has done with two years of unprecedented budget surplus. Did they fix the street in front of your house? Did they give more people free sewer hook-ups to solve the nitrates problem? How about cleaning up the park and cutting some of those dead and dying trees away from the power lines before the town burns down?

Feeling pretty confident in light of record windfalls, council increased the city budget by roughly one third, $68 million, to about $211 million a year. Unfortunately this is all “windfall money” – “federal pandemic funding, such as the American Rescue Plan, and other project grants, such as from the Department of Transportation.” Most was allocated to the police department, increasing their budget to almost what the entire city budget was when I started this blog. Then $12.2 million to the Unfunded Actuarial Liability, or Pension Deficit – up from $11.7 million last year. As for roads, I did not see any specific figures or projects mentioned in that report. No mention of the sewer or nitrate. No specific park projects. Just increases for the cops and the pensions.

Road improvements and affordable housing remain top issues to address in the coming fiscal year, according to the report, along with allocating a portion of this budget to operating its new homeless pallet shelter site. Overall, however, its largest financial challenge is its increasing contributions to CalPERS retirement benefits to city employees, both past and present. “

Talking to a reporter from Ch 7 news, Chico interim city manager Paul Hahn confirmed my belief that the pensions come before “ public safety issues that we could like to address in greater detail. The whole issue of fentanyl and drugs in our community... “

That’s it folks, if we want to see any of our real problems addressed, we have to pass their sales tax measure. “There’s a lot of projects we’d love to fund but just don’t have the resources for,”says Hahn. “That’s part of the reason why there’s a discussion of an additional sales tax measure that could be on the ballot this November.”

Yes, just “part” of the reason. The other part is the bond Bob has been mentioning. Coolidge has said he wants to use sales tax proceeds to secure a bond or bonds. For what he didn’t say, but remember, the city tried to get a Pension Obligation Bond, that’s their real intention, is pay off the pensions without any additional contributions from the employees.

Hahn also said most of the funding for the pensions comes from CalPERS investments, that’s simply not true. The taxpayers pay the biggest share, paying both the payroll “employer” contribution AND the ENTIRE annual “catch up” payment – you see they’ve budgeted $12.2 million this year, up a half million from last year. That came out of our operating budget, at the expense of our streets, our sewer system, our parks and our general quality of life and feeling of well-being. Meanwhile the employees pay as little as 9% of their own retirement costs.

Hahn seems like an idiot, I always respected him as county CAO, but he comes off very insensitive to the situation of the taxpayers. He says “Their [the employees] retirement comes from some contributions from the employees, contributions from the city and most of it comes from, basically, investments in CalPERS. Just like your 401(k)…

What an ASS – this guy is the city manager, he’s managed the county, and he doesn’t mention THE TAXPAYERS? And then he ASSumes we all get 401(k)’s? What planet does this guy live on? Oh yeah, he lives on that little planet, out there somewhere, where everybody makes in excess of $100,000 a year, and their pensions are GUARANTEED BY THE TAXPAYERS.

Here’s the story they posted on KRCR news – please note, they call it “taxpayer dollars”… –

https://krcrtv.com/news/chicos-upcoming-211-million-budget-proposed-to-tackle-homelessness-roads-and-housing

“Stagflation” next time, on This Old Lady Calls Out the Bullshitters

4 Responses to “City’s new budget, as usual, puts the pensions ahead of everything else”

  1. Frank May 25, 2022 at 7:54 pm #

    Maybe the council could sell bidwell park to Halliburton they might be able to frack some gas to pay police pensions. Lol.

    • Juanita Sumner May 26, 2022 at 6:02 am #

      No, not LOL – knowing these idiots, that’s on the table.

  2. BC May 26, 2022 at 6:37 pm #

    Happy to be wrong-and I hope it continues.

    I had the pallet shelter figured for a big over-funded, under-utilized screw-up by the city. The early returns are proving me wrong. Folks are moving in, the City is closing down homeless camps, and things seem to be moving in the right direction.

    I am reserving my standing ovation, and I hope for the best. But always prepare for the worst.

    But if it works, I’m happy to give credit where it is due.

    • Juanita Sumner May 28, 2022 at 6:21 am #

      I think it way to early for a standing ovation. Let’s see what happens over the summer. I’m not making any predictions.

      But when you’re ready to start doling out Brownie Points, I’d say the lion’s share go to the taxpayers for paying for it. At what cost, well, that waits to be seen.

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