New hires with new higher salaries, and council wants to raise builder fees (i.e. – the price of your house…) to pay for it. This is how the city of Chico makes housing more UNaffordable.

18 Apr

Holy Bat Crap Nagmom, I’m bushed. What a month. That stormy weather had my teeth on edge, waiting for something to happen. Then one day as I looked out my kitchen window, as the wind was whipping across the tree tops, a huge branch snapped off one of our oaks and just fell to the ground, WHUMP! The end of the branch – as big around as both my legs put together – swept across the corner of our roof and did enough damage that we need to repair it before more storms (and yeah, I predict more storms, remind me to tell you about that week-long June dumper back in the early 2000’s…)

We were feeling the need for a road trip, so this past weekend we loaded up the car and headed for Oregon. It’s wildflower time, the cows and sheep are out in the pastures, the weather is spectacular (howling dumper one minute, rainbow around the corner…) and there’s a weird, spaceship shaped cloud hanging over Shasta. I got pictures – AWESOME – and I don’t just toss that word out there.

Mt Ashland is also very picturesque, but the thing about Mt Ashland, is that if you go to the summit (not very far), you see Shasta in all her glory. Again, AWESOME.

I love California, for better or worse, but I like Oregon because they seem to make better use of their tax dollars. The roads are better, there’s more affordable housing, and they have spectacular parks and greenways full of water fowl and other natives running into the most urban settings. I think Chico could take some lessons, but right now, our city leaders are about to make housing even more un-affordable, make band-aid patches on streets, and have no real plans to clean our parks or waterways.

I just got the agendas for the city council meeting (tonight) and tomorrows 8:30 am Finance Committee meeting, and here’s how they’re raising the cost of housing in Chico.

Section 605 of the City Charter states that the appointment of department heads is subject to confirmation by the City Council.  In order to meet this requirement, City Council is being presented with the employment agreement for the Public Works Director – Engineering. (Report – Mark Sorensen, City Manager)

Recommendation : A. In compliance with Government Code Section 54953(c)(3), the City Manager shall first orally report a summary of the recommendation for final action related to the Public Works Director – Engineering employment agreement as follows: “The City Manager is proposing to enter into an employment agreement with Brendan Ottoboni as the Public Works Director – Engineering; and The City Manager is proposing to appoint Brendan Ottoboni with an annual salary of $185,000.” B. The City Manager recommends Council Confirmation of the appointment of Brendan Ottoboni as Public Works Director- Engineering.

In 2019 Brendan Ottoboni was the Director of the Engineering Department at a salary of $141,622.73. He left the city of Chico briefly, now he returns as “Public Works Director – Engineering” at a salary of $185,000?

Current Public Works Director Eric Gustafson, as of 2021, was making about $144,000 in base pay. That’s as far as the records go at Transparent California, because it’s an arm-wrestling match getting these records, usually requiring legal action. Think Gustafson has/will get a similar increase?

Here I’ll refer back to this old post –

in which I recounted a presentation from a consultant regarding our “management top-heavy” town. Why are there so many management positions in Public Works?

Every management position they create at salaries approaching $200,000/year adds exponentially to our pension deficit. They keep telling us they don’t have enough money for anything. Here’s where “I told you so” comes into the conversation – I told you that the sales tax money would just go right down the pension rabbit hole, and there it goes. Ottoboni will only pay 9% of his pension cost, on a $185,000+ salary. How is that sustainable?

But they seem to have another plan – raise builder fees again.

Here’s what caught my attention, – “Planning Fees Negative Declaration PC (previous fee) 7,018.00 $ (proposed fee) $ 16,593.00 (fee change/increase) $ 9,575.00

Yes, that’s an increase of $9,575.00, to give plans a “Negative Declaration” – “prepared for a project when there is no substantial evidence that the project or any of its aspects could result in significant adverse environmental impacts.”

And read the pdf – they’re also creating NEW fees. Now you have to pay the fire department to approve a fire hydrant, and then pay them to inspect it. This is nothing short of a fucking shakedown, and it’s going to be tacked on to the price of YOUR home, not to mention merchandise and services YOU pay for.

Yep, they hoodwinked you into voting for a sales tax measure, telling you everything you wanted to hear, and you bought it. Now you get to pay for it.

Here’s the links and info on Gustafson’s and Ottoboni’s salaries referenced above.

Regular pay:$143,654.57
Overtime pay:$0.00
Other pay:$6,899.00
Total pay:$150,553.57
Pension debt:$63,046.80
Total pay & benefits:$247,775.47

Regular pay:$141,622.73
Overtime pay:$0.00
Other pay:$5,700.00
Total pay:$147,322.73
Pension debt:$37,228.18
Total pay & benefits:$217,901.00

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