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Willmann tries to pretend she doesn’t have anything to say about her own salary

12 Sep

I attended the last “informational” meeting hosted by Chico Area Recreation District General Manager Ann Willmann. What’s interesting about these meetings is watching Willmann put her spin on the truth. 

First of all, although this was the least-attended meeting of the three I’ve been to, the folks who did show up seemed a lot better informed and asked good questions. Second, Willmann has had to incorporate more information into her presentation, obviously in response to questions and comments made over five meetings, as well as my letters to the editor, and, who knows what communications she has received from other members of the public. She’s on the defensive, and it’s not just me that’s putting her there.

I almost laughed out loud when she started into her spiel about CARD losing money over the Camp Fire. She started to explain how the county of Butte puts alllllll the property tax into a big pot, or “bucket”. Then they dip  out 1% of the total and divvy that between all the agencies that receive property tax money, including CARD. So what I hear is, towns that have their own rec districts are paying to support CARD. That’s great. 

But another man interrupted her, reminding everybody the state is “backfilling” that lost money, to the tune of $200,000 a year, for the next three years. Willmann seemed to lose a little bit of steam over that, admitting he was right, but adding that, gee, she just didn’t know what was going to happen after that three years. Well Annie dear, houses will be rebuilt, will be worth more than they were before the fire, and property tax revenues will go up. She knows that, but she is trying to tell us the Camp Fire resulted in less revenues for CARD. She really thinks she can bullshit that point – I was glad to hear somebody who has been paying attention pull the cork out of her ass. 

The questions people raised at this meeting gave me hope.  This parcel tax is not a done deal.  In fact, if there was a stronger response from the public, CARD board members might even decide not to put it on the ballot. Yesterday, as I listened to Willmann give more details about the survey CARD paid EMC to run earlier this year, I became more and more convinced the survey was actually more negative than Willmann is letting on.  CARD board and staff members are desperate to make the public agree to put a new 30 year tax debt on themselves.

The board has allowed themselves to be duped into believing a tax is the only way out of their current pension disaster. Willmann has repeated The Big Lie throughout this lecture series of hers – she sounds like an old mobster – once you’re in CalPERS, you’re IN!  She has a mouse in her pocket – “we” have to buy “our” way out. 

Well, I do believe, if they don’t do something, the agency will become insolvent trying to pay their pension deficit. But, Willmann refuses to talk about the best option – the best for everybody, including the taxpayers. The employees need to start coughing up more money out of their own pocket. They need to start paying 50% of their pension now, and that needs to increase to 80% over the next 10 years. The taxpayers already provide these people with more than generous salaries, to be expected to pay double what we pay in salary by way of these pension bail-out payments is way beyond reason, it’s unsustainable. CARD staff have completely forgotten their mission to serve the public, choosing instead to enrich themselves. 

And here’s another important thing they need to do – take salary freezes now, and when the freeze is over, cap raises at inflation. Inflation averages about 2% a year. General Manager Ann Willmann just took an 11% RAISE, from $113,000/year to $127,000. Her old benefits package was about $29,000 – this will go up, what, another 11%? Remember, this woman has bragged about paying 8% of her pension – 8% of her salary, which would amount to $12,000. For a pension of over $88,000/year, with cost of living increase, for the rest of her life.

Willmann says the pensions are out of her hands? Bullshit. She says “this needs to be handled at the CalPERS level and the legislative level…”

But local gadfly John Merz got to the truth when he asked Willmann, “how’s your union representation?” Yes, full time CARD employees, 35 according to Willmann, are represented by 2 separate unions, divided between management and “workers.” Willmann admitted that “classic” or management members still get their “2% at age 55” formula. I can’t explain the 2% – when I asked Randall Stone to explain it to me he was hostile and refused – but I can explain the “55”  – Willmann can retire at 55, with 70% of her highest year’s salary, which at this point, would amount to almost $90,000/year. With an automatic cost of living increase every year. 

But new employees – PEPRA – would have to wait until age 65. Why’s that?  We saw in the last post how different employee groups and different public agencies pay different amounts. When I asked Willmann about this discrepancy between what CARD pays (14%) and what the city of Chico pays (21 – 31%) and then what the different “bargaining units” pay, she  got kind of flustered, told me I’d have to wait for a member of her staff to get back to me. “I don’t want to spread misinformation…” 

Well, there’s obviously bargaining going on here – that’s why they call them “bargaining units”.  Willmann admitted to Merz that the employees are represented by a paid union member.  Who represents the taxpayers in these bargaining sessions? Three  pensioners (Lando, Nickel and McGinnis), a political operative (Worley) and an idiot who goes whichever way the wind blows (Donnan).

So it’s not, as Willmann would have us believe, up to CalPERS, or up to the legislature. It’s between her and the board, in closed sessions to which the public is not admitted. 

Maybe it’s time to start writing letters directly to the board. 

 

 

Bill, Bill, Bill – you need to listen more carefully next time

4 Sep

My grandparents were rice and nut farmers over in Glenn County, where we spent much of our childhood at their “ranch”. My grandma kept a nice yard, lots of flowers, and she couldn’t stand gophers. When we’d find a mound or a hole in the yard, we’d run in to get Gram, and she’d load a round into her old shot gun and follow us out into the yard.

Shooting gophers is a waiting game. Gram would locate the other holes, the “breathers,” and she’d set a hose in one, and then the cats and dog would take up another post, and then my grandma would set the barrel of that Remington right into that main hole. We’d watch, and then we’d wait, and then all the sudden, KA-BAAAAMMM! Gopher bits. And she’d then turn off the hose with a happy “By Gum!”, shoulder her shotgun, and go back in the house. 

Sorry for what some people might find a violent analogy, but what I wanted you to get out of it was the patience it takes to stop something from undermining your community and everything you’ve worked for. You have to watch, and you have to wait, and then you have to jump right on it, don’t let up, keep at it until you beat it. 

So I’ve been watching Chico Area Recreation District (CARD) and the city of Chico  for years now, since about 2012, since Tom Lando, former city manager and consultant who now sits on the CARD board, first floated a survey to determine the voters’ willingness to tax themselves. It came back embarrassingly negative. A subsequent CARD survey came back – “not enough support for a tax measure” was what that consultant said. But CARD kept spending money on consultants, finally going with the company that got the last school bond measure passed, EMC of Oakland. Their first survey was negative, but CARD paid for another just this year, and now they say there is enough support in the community to put a tax measure on the March 2020 ballot.

Really? Well, why didn’t they float a petition? The signatures they gathered would have been proof of people’s willingness to tax themselves. But you know they never would have got sufficient signatures, so they hired a company with money they should have put into maintenance and services to call 400 carefully chosen “respondents” with carefully written questions that would lead anybody to believe they needed to tax themselves. A company that boasts about getting tax measures passed.

I watched this unfold, none of it has been a surprise. And, I been waiting, and I’m ready to stand over their little holes, and hit them with the truth. KA-BAMM! Here’s another round. 

Bill Smith says the state has put CARD in a “tough spot”, restricting the agency to raising funds either through program user fees or public indebtedness – parcel taxes and bonds.  If he’d listened more carefully, he’d realize that CalPERS and CARD staff and board have put CARD, and the taxpayers, in  that spot. 

CARD’s General Manager stated at each meeting that staff has deferred maintenance on district infrastructure for years but continued to move money into their “pension liability reserve.” In fact, CARD’s 2019-20 budget shows a transfer of $700,000 into the reserve fund, and a $261,748 “side fund” payment toward their $2,800,000 pension liability. Remember, that’s in addition to the 6 – 9% of salary the agency pays monthly for each employee.

CARD’s budgets show that the revenues they receive from the  county – mainly property taxes and development impact fees – are up 8% over the last year.  Program user fees are up 9%. New subdivisions currently in the permits process, including those in the Camp Fire burn scar, will bring millions more in development impact fees and new property taxes.  These increases in revenue should be sufficient to provide for the future, since expenditures for services and supplies have only gone up 9%.

Meanwhile, salaries and benefits are up 11%, with no new employees. In fact, CARD’s General Manager, who only pays 8% toward a pension of nearly $100,000 a year, received a salary increase at the August board meeting, to $127,000/yr, further increasing the pension liability.

CARD’s current finances are unsustainable, and no parcel tax is ever going to suffice.

 

Bill Smith: The state has put CARD in a tough spot

2 Sep

I was glad to see some discussion of the CARD parcel tax measure in the ER letters section:

Enterprise Record, 9/1/2019

I attended a CARD meeting about the proposed parcel tax. CARD is in a tough position, the state legislature does not allow them to raise monies via a sales tax or gas tax, its only by parcel tax or user fee. I also understand CARD user fees are probably already at what the market will bear.

What bothers me is the inequality. Roughly half of Chico’s pre Camp Fire populations owns property, they would end up paying the recreation tax if approved. Yet the other half that don’t own property plus the displaced Paradisians that are qualified to vote, get to vote, on a  tax they won’t have to pay if passed.

It’s the inequality that I can’t stand, not the recreation fee itself. The state has put CARD in a tough spot.

Bill Smith, Chico

Well, I’m glad to hear somebody is attending these meetings. I’ve been to two and attendance was less than 20 people, including local media, CARD staff and staffers from other local public agencies.

Smith says the state has put CARD in a tough position, restricting the agency to raising funding by way of program user fees or public indebtedness – parcel taxes and bonds.

If Smith attended the meeting then he knows about CARD’s pension deficit – over $2.8 million. He knows CalPERS and the employees have put CARD, and the taxpayers, in a tough position. Willmann stood up there and told us, without batting an eye, that for years now CARD has deferred maintenance on district infrastructure but continued to move money into their “pension liability reserve.” In fact, their 2019-20 budget shows an allocation of $700,000 into the reserve fund, and a $261,748 “side fund” payment to CalPERS. Again, I’ll remind everybody – that’s in addition to the 6 – 9% of salary they pay monthly for each employee.

Mr. Smith should take a look at the CARD budgets for the past few years, available on their website.

https://www.chicorec.com/district-budget

He’d see that the agency gets more money from the county every year.

Revenues                  2018-19                                         2019-20         NOTES

RDA pass through   $1,090,000                                     $1,250,000       Redevelopment agency funding, $3 paid for every $1 borrowed

Tax income county   $3,045,000                                     $3,249,000      Property taxes and vehicles fees

Park impact fees            $85,000                                          $80,000     Developer impact funding, restricted to new facilities

Assessments                $136,746                                        $148,881      Fees collected from property owners in newer subdivisions

TOTAL TAX REV        $4,356,746                                 $4,727,881      Increase of $371,135 or about 8%

Program fees             $3,479,080                                       $3,804,255     Willmann says these are adjusted for inflation

Facility Rentals            $499,329                                         $550,988     Includes everything from ball fields to Park Pavilion

TOTAL CARD REV     $3,978,409                                 $4,355,243     Increase of $376,834 or about 9%

You can look at a few more past budgets at their website, you’ll see that revenues increase steadily as Chico grows and property values are high.  New development brings fees to cover new parks, and property values continue to rise in older neighborhoods. This should be sufficient to provide for Chico’s growing needs. But as you see below, the more revenues increase, the faster the salaries and benefits eat them up.  Even though they still have only 34 full time positions. 

Expenses                     2018-19                                        2019-20 

Salaries/Benefits      $5,700,093                                  $6,322,852    Increase of $622,759, or about 11%

Services/Supplies     $2,071,268                                  $2,266,348    Increase of $195,080, or about 9%

Contributions                $15,000                                            $15,000

Contingencies               $25,000                                            $25,000

Notes payable/leases     $1,005                                               $1,000

What I don’t see on the expenses list is a separate notation for the Pension Liability Trust allocations or payments made out of that special account. I wrote a note to General Manager Ann Willmann asking about that, I’ll get back with whatever answer I get. 

Another question I asked Willmann was whether or not the board approved her salary “adjustment” that was on the agenda for the August board meeting. 

https://www.chicorec.com/files/7dd0e72c7/August+15+2019+Agenda.pdf

General Manager Performance Evaluation and Possible Salary Adjustment
The Board of Directors will consider General Manager Ann Willmann’s performance over
the past year of her employment and any adjustment in salary or other amendment of
her employment contract deemed appropriate as a result thereof – Information/Possible
Action

I’ll get back to you with that.

The rest of Smith’s letter is not correct. 

What bothers me is the inequality. Roughly half of Chico’s pre Camp Fire populations owns property, they would end up paying the recreation tax if approved. Yet the other half that don’t own property plus the displaced Paradisians that are qualified to vote, get to vote, on a  tax they won’t have to pay if passed.”

He’s wrong, even people who don’t own property will pay. This tax will show up on property tax bills, commercial and residential, and landlords will raise rents to cover it. For business owners it will be another expense to pass along to customers. 

The real inequality is that it is a flat parcel tax. No matter how large the property or how many units it has, the tag is the same. So the family living in the 1100 sf house on the eighth of an acre lot, renter or owner, will pay the same as the family living in the 2800 sf house on the half acre lot or the apartment complex down the street. 

The other point I gathered from looking at the CARD budget is that no parcel tax will ever suffice.

 

Defined benefit plans must be fair to taxpayers, they must be financially sustainable, and the participants must pay their fair share.

26 Aug

CARD has another “informational” jam session this Wednesday evening, 7pm, at the CARD center on Vallombrosa.   I will be out of town, but hope others will attend. I must say, those meetings have been informational.

So, I wrote a letter to the editor about it!

I learned a lot attending two of Chico Area Recreation District’s parcel tax informational meetings.

I knew the pension cost is divided between employer share and employee share. But, I didn’t know,  for years CARD paid not only the employer share, but the entire employee share.  General Manager Ann Willmann said the agency now only pays 14% of their total CalPERS costs, resulting in a $2,800,000 pension deficit.

I misunderstood the Public Employees Pension Reform Act, thinking employees would pay 50% of their actual pension cost. Instead, they are only asked to pay 50% of CARD’s total payment of 14%. CARD employees agreed to pay an additional 1% of the employer cost, making their total contribution an unsustainable 8%.

Willmann also mentioned “aggressive payments” made toward the pension deficit itself. Whenever there is a downturn in the stock market, CalPERS demands more of it’s members, and the taxpayers are expected to pick up the tab. CARD created a “Pension Stabilization Trust”. Willmann admitted that maintenance to facilities like bathrooms has been deferred while the agency diverted funding to the pension trust.

Instead of new taxes, we need true pension reform.  Starting in 1999, CalPERS and powerful union lobbyists  pushed through unrealistic and unsustainable salaries and benefits for agencies all over California. These agencies have funded their pensions by cutting services and deferring maintenance – putting their pensions ahead of their mission to serve the public. Defined benefit plans must be fair to taxpayers, they must be financially sustainable, and the participants must pay their fair share.

 

Pension Tsunami Part 2: The lies, the lies, the lies – district manager claims CARD “debt-free”, meeting attendee reminds her of the pension liability

17 Aug

As I  was sitting at CARD’s “informational meeting” last Tuesday (8/13), I wanted to argue with the things Ann Willmann was saying, but I am always afraid to speak up at those meetings. I’ve been  attending CARD and city of Chico meetings for years, and I’ve found if you are not careful with these people they will just shut you out. Former CARD director Steve Visconti repeatedly ignored my requests to be placed on the Aquatics Facility Feasibility Advisory Committee (AFFAC) , and when I asked to be noticed of the meetings he simply told me there weren’t any. I’d  find out about them after-the-fact when there would be an item in the board agenda. So, yeah, these people intimidate me sometimes, that’s a fact.

But somebody really needed to ask more questions, the crowd of less than 20 observers was silent as she continued to spin her web.  At one uncomfortable point, Willmann talked about CARD being debt-free. There are so many things wrong with that statement, I just sat there in shock. The first thing I thought was, “Yeah, you paid off the loan on Lakeside Pavillion with money you should have been using to maintain other, more appropriate facilities.”   The district bought Lakeside Pavillion, sagging with rot and needing a  new roof, for over $1,000,000, with over $100,000 in interest.  Then there was at least $100,000 in repairs.  So, Willmann was trying to say, that instead of being stupid for buying an old crapper that has no recreation facilities, CARD was being smart for using money that should have  been going to serve the public to pay off a bad loan before it got worse.

That’s the same BS they are using to explain their many recent large payments to CalPERS.

As I sat there scribbling notes and grinding my teeth, the guy next to me raised his hand and corrected Willmann.  He corrected her, saying, “but you’re not debt-free,” asking, “Is it not disingenuous not to mention the unfunded pension liability?” He recalled it was over $2,000,000, and then Willmann corrected him –  $2.8 million.  And I could tell she was uncomfortable with the question, very flustered.

She said, “We are working toward aggressive payment to save interest…” 

I’ll say they’ve been damned aggressive, as Willmann admitted earlier in the meeting, deferring maintenance on district facilities while making “side-fund pay-offs” on the pension deficit. “Side-fund pay-off” means, payments in addition to the “employer’s share” of current employee benefits – in the hundreds of thousands a year. Last year they established a “Pension Stabilization Trust” like the one the city made up, into which they siphoned more than $1,000,000, funding taken from payroll, for additional “side-fund pay-offs”.

I was happy that the man next to me did not let up. He asked pointedly, “what about pension reform?” He reminded everyone that most private sector workers don’t  get pensions, that they’re lucky to get a 401K.  And he opined that no matter how much money the taxpayers kick into this scheme, the deficit will not get paid down until there is true reform. “The can is just getting kicked down the road…” he said.

Willmann was visibly side-blinded by his comments. Her lips were taut when she glared at him and asked, “What would you suggest?”

He didn’t miss a beat – “either get rid of pensions altogether or make the employees pay more.” He suggested 401K’s into which the employer puts a “defined contribution,” meaning, we agree to one contribution and no CalPERS to raise it any time they make a bad investment. What we have now, a system that was never vetted before the taxpayers or voters, is “defined benefits,” meaning we continue to pay as much as CalPERS demands, based on their die-hard scheme to make the difference off a volatile stock market using really, really bad judgement.

As I expected, an exasperated Willmann barked back, “we can’t get out of CalPERS, buyout is nearly impossible…” Which is a plain lie, other agencies have done it. For perspective, CARD only owes $2.8 million, the city of Chico owes almost $150,000,000.

Willmann, her voice cracking,  revealed that she’s only recently started paying 8%. That’s right. Up until a couple of years ago, she claimed, “prior management paid nothing…” Sure, she’s right, but what she didn’t mention is that she was a member, a “classic” member, of prior management, and also paid NOTHING. A couple of years ago, CalPERS demanded “classic members” start paying, at 2%, inching their way up to 8% just this 2019/20 budget cycle.

Still sounding like she was going to bust out in tears, Willman went on to say she’d been to CalPERS, “asking them for reforms… we chose to save taxpayers’ money by paying it off as fast as we can…” 

Staying with CalPERS and continuing to allow employees like Willmann to pay less than 10% will only drag us deeper into debt. CARD’s debt has increased by over $1,000,000 since 2015. And I imagine you’ve heard about this week’s stock market downturn?

Again, the man next to me took up the offensive. “The city is  falling apart because the money is being transferred from infrastructure to pensions.” At this point Willmann  was ready to bargain, trying to shut this guy up. “So, you want the measure to say no money goes to pensions?”

To which I would respond, the parcel tax money would just free up the rest of the budget to make the side-fund pay-offs. Duh Lady. But my neighbor went back to “more meaningful pension reform, tax increases won’t solve it…”   

Looking desperately around, Willmann asked if anybody else had a question. Silence. So my neighbor took up the conversation again, reminding Willmann that the city was undergoing a building boom right now, and that would be generating a lot more revenue. This, as Willmann had pointed out, would include builder’s impact fees, which are only allowed to new facilities. That would make sense, developers should pay for facilities necessitated by new construction. And then the new housing  generates  more property tax  revenues, which mean more money for infrastructure upgrades and maintenance. But Willman still insists CARD needs a 30 year parcel tax, just to maintain infrastructure?

Suddenly a tiny, nasal voice came up from the back of the room – CARD board member and former city councilman Mike McGinnis. McGinnis was on the defensive. “We need to be aggressive in paying the pensions deficit…we didn’t create the pension system…” He then said, “more and more people are moving to Chico…we need to provide more recreation…”

First of all, the mission of the district is RECREATION, not PROVIDING A SALARY/PENSIONS TROUGH for a bunch of bureaucrats that don’t have anything to do with providing recreation. Second, all that NEW HOUSING COMES WITH IMPACT FEES AND CREATES NEW, HIGHER PROPERTY TAX REVENUES. In fact, those new houses won’t only be more expensive, they will raise the property value of houses directly around them.

This is the kind of “leadership” the CARD board provides. In fact, as city councilman, Mike McGinnis participated in many of the decisions that drove Chico into bankruptcy, including approval of ever-increasing salaries and benefits for city management. 

So, do you really think you want to entrust more tax money to an agency that seems to believe the taxpayers are just another herd of cash cows to bail out their pension fund?  

 

 

 

Excessive taxation ruins the economy – time to act to reverse this trend

26 Jul

I saw Patrick Newman’s letter calling (jokingly I assume) for a limit on letters about President Trump. I had to laugh –  there have been letter writers, and probably requests made to the editor, to limit Newman’s letters. People have contacted the editors of both the ER and the N&R asking them to stop printing my letters. Some people only want to hear stuff they agree with, that’s nothing new. 

I have to agree with Newman’s assertion that people need to pay more attention to what’s going on locally. Not that federal matters are not important, but I feel a person can have more effect locally. And, as citizens become more powerful in local affairs, those localities become more powerful and have a bigger effect statewide, and eventually nationwide. 

I think excessive taxation is becoming a huge problem in Butte County, and the state of California, I wish more people would wake up and act. In the city of Sacramento, taxpayer groups who supported their sales tax Measure H quickly realized the funds weren’t being used as promised – too late, they’ve already approved the tax, and Mayor Darrell Steinberg has proposed even more taxes as a result. 

I think the root of excessive taxation is incompetent, insubordinate public employees who have fostered a negative and hostile environment for the rest of us. Their salaries and perks not only raise our taxes, but the salary imbalance makes a normal middle class lifestyle unaffordable for the rest of us.  These public salaries raise the price of everything from housing to groceries to healthcare. How can the family living on $43,000/year compete with public employees making in excess of $100,000/year? Especially when we are on the hook for their outrageous healthcare and pension packages.

Here’s an irony – most of us get by with catastrophic care, with huge co-pays, packages that won’t get us into a lot of hospitals. Hospitals and doctors can actually refuse our insurance.  Meanwhile we fund “defined benefit” health packages for public employees that guarantee them the best of care at top hospitals. 

What’s your retirement plan? Die? Well, as long as you live, you’ll be paying pensions of 70 -90% of $100,000+ public salaries. Our city manager, in his 50’s, is already making over $220,000 a year – do the math – if he retired tomorrow we’d be paying him $154,000/year, plus cost-of-living-adjustments, for the rest of his life. Unfortunately I’m afraid he has quite a few more years of self-service left in him, especially since he has what amounts to automatic annual pay raises based on a percentage of his salary. 

Currently more than 100 city employees receive salaries of $100 – 225,000/year. Another 25 make $90 – 99,000/year. These folks pay less than 10% of their pension cost, they want us to pay the rest in the form of a 1 cent sales tax increase. They say the money will be dedicated toward streets and safety, but even if they are sincere here, that just loosens up other money to be transferred into the Pension Stabilization Trust. And who can believe what they say when they promised to fix the streets with the trash tax but have instead transferred it into the General Fund? 

So we have a sales tax increase measure from the city of Chico and a parcel tax coming from the Chico Area Recreation District. Two regressive taxes aimed at the same population, neither agency having any concern for the economy.

Newman is right – get involved locally. There are a lot of meetings, scheduled at different times, at which you can not only learn more about how these agencies operate, but you can get into the conversation. Check out the schedules and agendas at these links:

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas.asp

https://www.chicorec.com/board-meetings

 

Throw the bums out!

5 Jun

Chico Area Recreation District (CARD) recently hired another consultant to run yet another survey trying to get the voters to tax themselves. As usual, the survey was leading and suggestive – but here’s something new – it didn’t produce the results they were looking for. Instead of a fancy new sports complex, the respondents made it clear they want their existing parks cleaned up and properly maintained and they want the transient camps gone. 

I mentioned in a previous post, if you read the comments on various social media sites, or if you happened to read former CARD board member Terry Cleland’s recent letter to the Enterprise Record, you hear complaints of transient camps at soccer fields, transients stealing from snack bars and even personal  belongings from the participants. 

When my son played travel sports, we found ourselves in towns all over California, like Oakland. The manager at the facility in Oakland told us to park and stay within two blocks of the facility, and to report “anything weird…”  Is that what’s happening to Chico? 

But Cleland’s letter sounded a little too in line with suggestions the CARD consultants have made – every  consultant they’ve had has told them, get members of the public to speak for you. As a former CARD board member and a candidate for the board in the recent election, Cleland would be the perfect dupe to put their tax proposal out there, as if it came from the mouths of babes.  Well, here’s my response – let’s talk about a real solution to the transient problem – throw the bums out!

Chico Area Recreation District wants a new tax to provide security at playgrounds. Terry Cleland detailed the problem in his letter, and the Editor has written of families who are moving out of Chico because of this situation.  We have a serious criminal transient problem in our city.

Here’s why.  78% of the nearly $74,000,000 Butte County Behavioral Health budget comes from “intergovernmental revenues” –  money received from other cities and counties to “provide beds” for their mentally ill and drug addicted transients. 

In 2016 BCBH director Dorian Kittrell told me the county received $550 a day for each “client” they took in from cities and counties all over California that do not offer services. He explained in a budget memo that these “intergovernmental transfers” are the main source of funding for BCBH. Transfer patients are held for 45 days, and then released at their own recognizance from either the Chico or Oroville BCBH facility. Many are given prescription medication. They are offered rides to various shelters, but are not required to enroll in any program.

This is a legal form of getting rid of transients – just send them to a mental health facility in another town. Unfortunately, Chico has become that other town.

Our once incredible Bidwell Park, CARD playgrounds, retail areas, the college district, and lower income neighborhoods, are becoming overburdened by this practice of human dumping. We don’t need new taxes or more services, we need to tell our county supervisors loud and clear – stop the transfers.