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Letter to the Editor: Kim Nott says we HAVE TO pay, I say we DON’T!

27 Jun

I don’t subscribe to the Enterprise Record anymore, cause I’m a tight-ass bitch, and even 99 cents spent on bad rubbish is 99 cents too much. But, yeah, it’s the only real public forum we have – you don’t have to sign up for Faceblob, or Snitter – and at least Wolcott prints my letters. So I keep sendin’ ’em.

I got a response to a letter I sent a couple of months ago (?), from a guy named Kim Nott. He says we have to pay “the obligation”. I say, no, we don’t!

Kim Nott wrote, “Nobody is happy about our ever-increasing obligation to CalPERS.  But given the legal constraints guided by the ‘California Rule’ it is just that.  An obligation.”

The “California Rule”, was drafted by the unions and passed by the legislature without any input from the taxpayers. But Nott continues ” don’t be under any illusion that we can do anything at all but pay the bill CalPERS sends out.”

If City employees expect to get the generous pensions and benefits they demand, they need to make more reasonable contributions.. City council and management negotiate the contracts, and the deal with CalPERS, not the taxpayers.

The city is hiring a new city manager, but “sunshining” of salary and benefits prior to the approval of the contract is not required by any state law or by any internal policy of the City.  The City of Chico “sunshine” requirements, implemented by council in 2008, apply only to our union groups.

So, “sunshine” does not apply to the taxpayers, nor do we have any say as to salary or benefits, but we’re “obligated” to pay?

Nott concludes, “if you don’t like our roads now you would be more displeased when maintenance money comes out of the budget to pay for the CalPERS obligation.”

Staff has willfully deferred maintenance for years, taking money out of every city fund to pay their CalPERS debt. But the deficit continues to grow due to overgenerous salaries and benefits.

Any new revenues would just be spit on the griddle.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

Letter to the Editor: In this economic atmosphere, the city of Chico is proposing a regressive tax. They’re spending taxpayer money to push it. Let’s stop it now – contact council and tell them this dud is DOOOOOMED!

21 Jun

KRCR News reports, “The Consumer Price Index shows food prices have gone up over 10 percent in the past year… products like dairy, fish, meat and cereal are at an even higher rate.”

No, it wasn’t just our imagination. One viewer comments, “Seniors and the disabled on very fixed incomes are also struggling. Our rent is going up almost $100 next month… gas goes up and up, PG&E goes up, food prices go up…”

Everyone feels the squeeze of higher utility rates, food, household goods, and gas prices, but the lower your income, the more disproportionate share of your budget goes to bare necessities. It is troubling, in this economic atmosphere, that the City of Chico would propose a regressive tax increase.

You have to ask yourself what you’re going to get in return. Other social media comments reflect distrust in council spending decisions – “I do not trust that the money will be spent wisely… it will be up to the city council (not us) to decide (again, in a closed meeting) where they want it to be spent…” True, this regressive tax increase is forever, it’s not dedicated to any specific use, and any future council could spend the revenues any way they please.

Do you ever wonder if your voice matters? Well, here’s an opportunity to be heard – contact council now and tell them this measure is doomed, and they should not spend any more taxpayer money putting it on the ballot or selling it to the voters.

Juanita Sumner, Chico

Shock treatment – it’s dumb decisions on the part of council that raise our cost of living while lowering our quality of life

19 Jun

Yesterday I noticed the price of the pack of chicken I always buy at Winco has gone up. It was about $1.89/pound the last time I bought it, now it’s $2.28. Let’s do the math. First I’ll try to do it in my head, because that’s good for your brain.

Okay, subtract 1.89 from 2.28 = 39 cents. I’m going to check that on my calculator before I get mad. Hmmm. We divide .39 by 1.89 and we get a 20% increase. Wow, now I’m kinda pissed.

It’s a daily shock treatment. We go grocery shopping, get the bill for our vehicle registration, open a utility bill, go to the gas station – it’s like that great old Stephen King movie, Cat’s Eye.

I’ll tell you what – I might pay an extra sales tax to see Gavin Newsom and members of the Democratic legislature in this box.

Our own mayor and city council have put us in that box. They tax our utilities, put franchise taxes on our services, raise the cost of housing with their new developer fees, and squeeze local businesses for stuff like “improvement districts”.

And the double-whammy is that we get nothing for it. Crime is at an all time high even though the cops get over half the budget. We just got snookered into instituting a “homeless” shelter camp that, as Rob Berry twitters, is already inadequate because the city will not require that both beds in each box are occupied. As soon as the 177 pallets are “full”, the city will have to allow the transients to camp in our parks and open spaces again – and predate on our neighborhoods when we’re asleep and at work. And of course that will lead to more demands for money for the cops.

It’s dumb decisions on the part of council that not only raise our cost of living, but lower our quality of living. Look at an agenda, you’ll see what I’m talking about.

I saw an item in this week’s agenda that caught my eye – Deepika Tandon has requested a conversation about the Downtown trash receptacles. I still remember when the city underwent a “remodel” of Downtown, bulbing sidewalks – essentially inviting pedestrians to become human traffic calming devices. They also spent a bunch of money on those big, ugly concrete trash receptacles. The transients, who essentially own Downtown Chico after 10pm, had vandalized the old metal buckets, and the consultant who sold the city the concrete cans convinced them that concrete could stand up to the abuse of the bums.

No, they didn’t. They were vandalized, literally to pieces, until the city removed them. In fact, as my husband and I toured our out-of-town relatives through Thursday night market, shortly after the cans had been purchased, my husband’s cousin and I watched a filthy little perv completely destroy one of those cans with a bike chain.

So, let’s watch this conversation, and I hope some of you will chime in on Chico Engaged to let them know what you think of their ridiculous spending decisions. New garbage cans for Downtown – have you looked at the street in front of your house lately?

Sometimes I wonder if we should even have a city council. Every new council seems to repeat the mistakes of the past, like Tandon, they don’t do their homework. I think we might be better off voting on staff hires, but then I realize – that would be, the same idiot voters who elect these councils we’ve had, who have made these idiot decisions. I always wonder, how much homework does the average Chicoan do at election time?

This election is different. The idiots are demanding a one-cent sales tax increase to carry on their idiocy. This is a permanent increase in our cost of living, and again, you have to ask yourself, FOR WHAT? When was the last time you remember a council who didn’t make stupid spending decisions?

NO, and tell them that now, while they can still change course on this stupid tax measure.

It’s not too late to stop the city of Chico from putting their tax dud on the ballot – write to council, write to the papers, tell your friends – Chicoans have had enough, and we’re not taking any more

15 Jun

The other day I was washing dishes and I heard something on the morning news that made me put down my dish brush and reach for the remote – average electric cost across the country have gone up 12% over the last few years. In fact, I’ve seen the rate increase notices in my PG&E bills, at least one a year, sometimes several “rate cases” in one notice. Lately it’s been because of the fines they’ve been levied over various fires they’ve started and towns they’ve burned down due to neglect of their infrastructure.

When I dove into this issue further, I found this Cal Matters article from last year –

“California’s electricity prices are among the highest in the country, new research says, and those costs are falling disproportionately on a customer base that’s already struggling to pay their bills.

“PG&E customers pay about 80% more per kilowatt-hour than the national average, according to a study by the energy institute at UC Berkeley’s Haas Business School…”

Cal Water has been nudging their rates up too. The result – dead lawns and dying trees all over Chico. Big trees, that will cost homeowners 10’s of thousands of dollars to remove. I know, because my family paid over $10,000 to have an 80 year old cedar taken out of our front yard after Cal Water’s onerous water rates and threats of fees for watering your yard forced us to stop watering our yard. It’s that, or have an enormous torch standing over your house, waiting for the power lines to fail or the transformer next to your house to blow up. We’ve had three transformers within reach of our house blow up over the last 5 years, with no explanation whatsoever from PG&E.

In fact, they’ve got my neighbor’s line stapled to her huge, dying sequoia tree – in fact, they recently stapled up a new line! I can’t believe they still use trees as power poles, right in town, but it’s actually a subject of debate.

The utility companies are just like the city of Chico – service actually goes down as the rates go up, up, up. And they get no protest from the City of Chico because the city tacks a 5% Utility User’s Tax (UUT, or “local tax”) to your water and PG&E bills. Just because they can, and because it is one of their top revenue mechanisms, bringing in millions every year.

The city also adds “franchise fees” to your trash service. My trash service has gone up 39% since the city instituted the trash tax deal. No, they haven’t done one dollar’s worth of work on the streets in my neighborhood, although, every now and then they come through and pave and paint the bike trail that runs along the freeway. They also regularly tear up the streets for sewer hookups that are badly patched and just contribute to the mess.

This is willful inflation, caused by the city you live in. You get no extra service for this taking, and it adds to the cost of everything. And now they want to ladle on a sales tax increase.

Yes, it falls disproportionately on working class ratepayers, as well as the taxpayer-funded agencies that deal with the low-income and desperately poor. Did you know, the city of Chico pays Utility Tax to itself – just think how much those pallet shelters are going to generate when the temps hit three digits. The Torres Shelter pays UUT, the Jesus Center pays UUT, welfare families pay UUT.

Cal Matters contributor Laurence Du Sault explains “because lower-income residents use only moderately less electricity than higher income households, they end up with a disproportionate share of the burden, according to the study.” A person needs light, warmth, and in a “first world” country like the US, a decent refrigerator to protect their food, and a stove to cook it on. Kids have to have computers to participate in school these days. Of course, PG&E offers low-income programs like CARE and FERA, but these programs are tacked onto everybody’s bill, including low-income customers, before they get their discount.

Yes, the city offers a rebate to those qualifying by their income, but they make it very onerous to collect. You have to provide all your bills, physically, so you either have to pay to mail them in with your application or you have to appear at the Finance Department window between 9 and ? (when staff decides to close the window), Monday through Thursday. Look at the budget reports, less than 1,000 people – and no public or private agencies – apply for this rebate.

The city already adds millions a year to the cost of living, taking your money to feather their pension nest. Year after year our quality of life goes down while expenses go up. Time for council to get a reality check – let them know now, it’s not too late to stop them from putting this dud on the ballot. Write to council, write those letters to the editor, tell your friends, make it loud and clear – Chicoans have had it up to here, and we’re not going to take anymore.

The city of Chico already has their hand in your wallet/purse, and what have you got to show for that? And now they want more sales tax?

11 Jun

About a month ago I realized the city would have to move forward with their sales tax measure, that the deadline was approaching for them to turn it over to the county clerk for the November ballot. My husband reminded me that school would be out soon, with Memorial Day on the horizon, so we decided to take our last swipe at a vacation before the roads became clogged and gas prices went any higher, and before I got distracted with various election issues.

We went up to Portland to see relatives. Oregon is strange country. You drive over the border into the State of Jefferson, and the signs change immediately. Within a mile, “FUCK BIDEN” speaks prominently, in bold, capital letters, from barns, sheds, dead tree stumps – big, professionally made signs, you bet. The Oregonians are willing to spend money declaring their dissatisfaction with the federal government.

Then you get to Portland, where they seem to love the government. They use public transportation, they embrace high-density living, and they pay car registration fees based on the fuel efficiency of their car. To me, that’s like showing a stranger your panties.

I’ll tell you where the Oregonians have the right idea, they are one of only five US states that have NO SALES TAX. (the others being Alaska, Delaware, Montana, and New Hampshire).

I’ll be honest, I have never understood sales tax. To me, it’s a blatant, “in your face because I can... ” TAKING. It’s a shake-down, a racket. We already pay fuel and car taxes for the roads, which are embezzled away to pay for bike trails and trains to nowhere. We already pay developer fees on our homes, and then property taxes, which are directed not only into the pensions but into the pallet shelters, the cooling tents turned shooting galleries, and the constant state of emergency that is created in a town where certain people are not held responsible for their behavior. Pay a sales tax to a government that does nothing to secure your safety or even the safety of the supply chain? That’s a racket, wake the hell up. Why don’t you just go Downtown and give your purse/wallet to the first creep that holds his hand out?

Of course BC opined recently that “If you want perfect streets, perfect parks, top notch City services with free candy for the kids and a well functioning municipal government, you have to have lots of money. That is a tax increase.”

Well, I saw all those things in Portland. I might have to post a blog about the parks I’ve seen there, city parks, gorgeous. Incredibly maintained natural areas, restored forests and marshes. The streets, even in my son’s older, high density neighborhood, are in perfectly good condition – no potholes that void the warranty on your tires. You can walk the length and breadth of the city on safe sidewalks. Portland also has a state-of-the-art sewer system, integrating their old sewer system with new technology.

Free candy for the kids? Well, I don’t know why I’d want that, but what they do there is “food truck courts”. They have solved that problem with restaurants and food trucks, by designating a city-owned parking lot, located away from “brick and mortar” restaurants, for food trucks several nights a week. They’ve furnished tables and a little plaza, family-friendly setting where you can get a cheap meal, hang out with friends, from a different truck every night.

Did you know, Chico City Plaza was set up for food trucks, with electrical outlets and specially-built curbs to pull in the trucks. But it has never been used for that. In fact, the last time I looked, the fee schedule for Downtown Plaza was really onerous. That’s why Chico Farmer’s Market would not locate there, insisting instead on making a pretty behind-closed-doors deal with Chico City staffers to use the city parking lot instead.

BC is arguing an old line – give us the money or it will get worse. The city of Chico has admittedly deferred services and infrastructure maintenance for years, while paying increasing payments to CalPERS. In 2018, the California League of Cities, of which Chico is a long time member, released a report saying, in part, “City pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels, (2) Rising pension costs will require cities to nearly double the percentage of their general fund dollars they pay to CalPERS, and (3) Cities have few options to address growing pension liabilities.

The report first suggested creation of a pension stabilization trust – a fund dedicated to pensions. The next suggestion was a revenue measure. Followed by this dark advice: “Change service delivery methods and levels of certain public services: Many cities have already consolidated and cut local services during the Great Recession and have not been able to restore those service levels. Often, revenue growth from the improved economy has been absorbed by pension costs. The next round of service cuts will be even harder.” In other words, starve the taxpayers for services and they’ll pass your revenue measure.

Since 2018, we’ve seen the institution of two dedicated pension funds, meaning, they can only be used to pay the pension deficit. Those funds are siphoned from every department, ahead of any infrastructural or service needs, just TAKEN. They are used to make the annual “catch-up” payments to CalPERS, which are growing every year, millions of dollars taken from infrastructure, public safety, and every day services like development support

Ever wonder, why is housing getting so expensive when they’re building like crazy? Well, that’s because every few years they raise developer fees, which are essentially a tax, and which drive up the cost of housing, no matter how much you build.

The city of Chico has a lot of taxes you might not know about. The garbage “franchise fee” (trash tax), the cable “franchise fee” (tv tax), PG&E franchise fee (PG&E tax, which does nothing to secure our safety from wild fires). There’s some you might have forgot – look at your utility bills, how much are they shagging you in “local” or “Utility User Tax”? The city raises no protest when Cal Water or PG&E raise rates, because it means MORE UTILITY TAX. There are some I’ve probably forgot here, suffice to say, the city of Chico already has their hand in your wallet/purse, and there you are, being asked for an increase in Sales Tax?

There it was, in last Tuesday’s agenda. Here’s the report:

There’s your homework. Let’s talk about it next time.

Right now we have an opportunity to eliminate two management positions – tell your district rep we need to cut our “top heavy” management instead of raise taxes and rates on the working class

17 May

Inflation – it’s the ‘I’ word. You’ve seen it – the price of almost everything my husband and I buy at the grocery store has increased sharply lately, having been steadily increasing over the course of the COVID shut-down. Here’s an example – I eat a lot of bananas – bananas have gone up about 20 cents a pound over the last two or three months.

The drivers – gas and utilities. It’s not hard to see how those commodities affect the price of everything else.

You can scream at Joe Biden all you want – he can’t hear you. Better to scream at your local politicians, your county and city representatives. They have done nothing to help, in fact, they’ve gone about raising the cost of living with just about every action they take. Tonight the city of Chico is talking terms of sale with Cal Water, offering them the city sewer system. YOUR sewer system folks. You’ve watched Cal Water hike your water rates, wait until they’re in charge of the sewer!

The city of Chico has already allowed Waste Management to jack up your garbage fees and impose new fees, they’ve stuck Comcast with fees that are passed along in your cable bill, and they’ve allowed PG&E to raise rates at will without any protest to the Cal Public Utilities Commission. Now they want to sell the sewer to Cal Water, just for money to pay down their pensions.

Don’t wait until Cal Water tells you they are jacking your water AND sewer rates to pay for those pipelines running up the Skyway, carrying sewage and water from Paradise ($$$$$$$). Say something NOW. Tell your district rep you know this has to go before the voters, and you’re going to join Chico Taxpayers Association in opposing it.

And tell them you are going to work hard to beat their sales tax measure. It’s a SHAKE DOWN Folks. The city’s biggest debt right now is the pensions, don’t let them fill your pants with lies.

I’ve had a little gadfly city employee coming around telling me to put a sock in it – I’ll say, join me Jeremy. You’re a worker, we need more guys like you, but we need them to be affordable. Your wages raise the price of everything, Mr. Lazarus, your pension deficit is KILLING OUR TOWN. You need to get that through your head, and then tell your co-workers to step up and pay more of their own benefits.

And we need to join together to demand cuts to management. Why do we need TWO CITY MANAGERS? Let’s promote Jennifer McCarthy to city manager and get rid of the Ass Mangler position. We also just lost Admin Services Director Scott Dowell, and his assistant ASD is now the “interim” ASD – just promote her, and dump her old position. Let’s get rid of that double-team in every department, we’ll SAVE MILLIONS OF DOLLARS IN PENSIONS AND BENEFITS.

Be vigilant and be active, we can do it.

UPDATE: I just received the agenda for next weeks Finance Committee meeting – they are jacking up the builder fees, which just raises the cost of housing – this is how the city of Chico GETS EVERYTHING WRONG.

Why, after two years of unprecedented budget surpluses, is the city of Chico still so far behind on infrastructure maintenance?

10 May

I got a really rude comment from a city employee named Jeremy Lazarus.

You’re article is completely full of lies. As a City of Chico public works employee who struggles to feed my family, I take your words as an attack on myself and my children. You lie in every article you write concerning pension liability. You never have any receipts for your claims. FYI, I am also a conservative. You clearly have zero understanding of city operations and how they are funded. I’m open to a conversation but you owe me and my coworkers an apology for these attacks and pinning the public against us hard working fellow TAX PAYERS.

Wow, there’s a mouthful. Receipts for my claims? All I could respond with was that I get my information from staff, from agenda reports, and from the budget, posted on the city website.

Thanks Bob, for your response to, “You lie in every article you write concerning pension liability.” Bob responds, “Every article? Well, the unfunded pension liability numbers from past discussions were taken straight out of the City’s CAFRs reports. Are you saying those numbers are lies?

Taking all the name calling and emotions out of this, ask yourself one simple question. Can the taxpayers afford the pensions? Looking at the current unfunded liability and its current growth how can the answer be yes?

Thanks for that rational take Bob, we need to keep our heads here. Mr. Lazarus is a new employee, and he’s not management, so it’s true, he doesn’t make the kind of salary the department heads are making, and he pays more of his pension costs (due to the “Pension Reform” act of 2013). But his argument that I’m a liar is irrational. I have to wonder if these people are being told by management to argue anybody who takes a dim view of the tax measure. No holds barred.

He says he’s “open to a conversation” – well, here’s a question for you Mr. Lazarus – how come there are people all over the incorporated city who have been waiting years to hook up to sewer? What’s the hold up? The city had an unprecedented surplus the last couple of years, due in part to Camp Fire relief and COVID emergency funding, not to mention sales tax revenues generated by both of those and other emergencies. How come the sewer lines are still not complete?

Becca reports, “We bought a house in North Chico 15 years ago. Through the whole process everyone made sure to point out that the house had been annexed into the city for services namely, sewer hook up. I probably don’t need to say anymore for you to know where I’m going with this. That’s correct. 15 years and I’m still sitting on a delapidated septic tank that I’ve invested in repairs what the hookup fees are. Here’s the fun part. City lines were put in all the way down a main street EXCEPT THE LAST 2 BLOCKS where it DEAD ENDS into another street that has lines in it as well. All plumbed except 2 blocks BETWEEN the two streets. When I called last year to get the what’s up, I was told I had to poll my neighbors, write up a request, submit it and wait. I was also informed it would take a while IF IT HAPPENED AT ALL as there were other “pressing” issues. So, there it is. Chico has not completed the leaching nitrates problem. The kicker for me as I understood the nitrate issue was take care of high nitrate areas first.

That’s outrageous. I’ve heard other stories at meetings and from neighbors, including the shock and awe of the city’s hook-up fees. So, how come so many people around town, including Becca above, are still waiting for the trunk lines to be completed on their street?

The other point she brings up is leaching nitrates, a problem we have heard much about since the 1990s. Old septic tanks and sewer lines were blamed. The city got grant funding to hook up households to existing sewer lines, for FREE. That’s great, but really unfair to those households who didn’t have trunk lines on their street. Why didn’t the city also undertake a push to finish trunk lines? The more people hooked up the more monthly fees they collect from those new households. It shouldn’t cost more to service more people, it should bring in more revenues.

The sewer fund, like all the city funds, is tapped every year by a certain percentage to pay for the unfunded pension liability, pension deficit, Unfunded Actuarial Liability, whatever you want to call it. Look in the budget, available on the city website, and put those terms into the F-search. Search “pension stabilization trust”. You’ll see exactly how much money is taken from infrastructure and services to pay the pensions. I found out, they take 10% of the UAL from every department fund to put into the PST (Fund 904), and the Pension Liability Reserve Fund (903), which are used to make the annual “extra” payments to CalPERS.

The highest contribution any employee group makes toward the pensions is less than 30% – I got that in a spread sheet from Chico City Human Resources Dept. The taxpayers pay the rest, with CalPERS making one poor investments performance after another. And then we pay the entire “extra” payment, with interest. Somehow, despite increasing “extra payments,” City of Chico deficit just keeps going up, currently about $150 million. So we drive on sub-par streets and put up with nitrates in our ground water, we put up with violence in our streets and homes while our parks and public spaces are overrun with crime and garbage, but our deficit just keeps going up. The taxpayers have paid enough, it’s time to look at the employee contribution.

Not only would I propose that the employees pay more, I’d propose that they contribute the same percentage into the pension “extra” payment funds established by the city, the Pension Stabilization Trust and the CalPERS Unfunded Liability Reserve Fund.

But here’s something I’ve said for a long time, and I wish Mr. Lazarus would do his homework, cause I think he might agree with me here – we need to cut management, and make them pay more. We need fewer management and more workers.

What do you think Mr. Lazarus?

BC! You magnificent bastard! I read your comment, and you’ve hit that nail right on the head! We’ve got FLEAS!

7 May

Did you ever get so disgusted you just couldn’t move? Couldn’t act? Couldn’t even COMPLAIN? That’s how I’ve been feeling lately, I call it “blog stop”. It’s like being in front of a moving train in a stalled car. Should I get out and make a run for it? Or just keep cranking the key and mashing on the pedal? If that were really the situation, sure, I’d bail – I have good insurance. But I like my home in Chico, I like my friends, I have DNA at the cemetery, and we’ve invested a lot of money here.

I know, we’re all making tough decisions right now. Gotta keep a clear head, not a good idea to make important decisions in a panic.

For me, the focus is how the city spends money, and right now, most of the money is going into the pensions. Here’s what BC had to say about it:

As you know, it all comes back to employee pensions and benefits. Until those items come under control there will never be money for anything else.

Correct, as of now, the biggest debt the city has is the CalPERS liability. The city has established two funds that are dedicated toward this debt, the money can’t be spent on anything else. These funds are filled by allocating money from every other city fund, from the roads to the sewer. Isn’t that weird – the roads fund isn’t restricted, the sewer funds isn’t restricted, but the pension fund is restricted to one purpose? Paying the pensions. That should tell you exactly where the city’s priorities lay. Because “the city” isn’t made of citizens, it’s made of employees.

The outsourcing of city services such as sewer and water is just another symptom of the bigger problem. The service gets outsourced. You would think that the personnel who used to provide the service and their benefits and the costs would all be a net savings after the asset was sold. But the payroll never goes down, the expenses never go down and the taxpayers are left with an additional cost to pay in addition to their property taxes.

BC, you magnificent bastard – my apologies to your mother – but you have hit that nail, hit it hard! Right on the head! Like I’ve said before, they are double-ending us on these services. First they take our taxes on the ruse that they will do something for our benefit, and then they outsource those services to an agency we have to pay AGAIN! No, they don’t fire the employees when they sell the sewer, and we’re on the hook for their pension deficit anyway.

You can outsource legal services, you can outsource document services, you can outsource the fire and tDOWN,,, you can outsource almost every function that city government should provide and so the tax base coming in can be used for pensions and benefits while no services are provided.

Yep, there it is – they will sell the sewer, and take the money into their pension funds, and then we will have to pay Cal Water’s ever-increasing rates to flush our toilets.

We still have to pay the employees TO DO NOTHING. All they do Downtown is work toward funding their pensions, those embezzling bastards. It’s like having fleas.

Chico Council plays Sophie’s Choice with city services in mailed survey; meanwhile, “CalPERS Unfunded Liability Reserve Fund” takes 10% of the UAL from every city fund

22 Apr

I’m thrilled to see some pushback against the city of Chico’s sales tax measure. For example, yesterday and today there were letters from names I haven’t seen in the letters section before, both calling the mailed “survey” into question. I’ve seen similar remarks, some of them very angry, on various social media sites, including

There has also been a city employee named Jeremy Lazarus, who has been trolling my posts and trying to deny that the city of Chico’s biggest debt is the pensions. He’s told me I don’t understand, and I should “get a clue”. Ironically, Transparent California reports that when Lazarus was hired by the city of Chico in 2019, he already had a personal pension debt of $24,305.22, created by his abysmally low employee contributions in Glenn County. The little trough skipper.

Hey, you think Lazarus and other city employees have been told to troll the social media sites to spread the hype? While I have no evidence of that locally, I can relate that my son, when employed by a West Coast city for a short internship, was told to engage people regarding any negative information he heard about his employer, and set them straight. So I know it happens, and I won’t be surprised when I find out City of Chico employees are told same about the tax measure.

One letter writer brought up a point that also troubled me – the survey lists services that are all important, that every city needs to supply, or why be in the business of being a city? They tell us to rank these services – that’s bullshit folks, they are trying to Sophie’s Choice our asses. In the 1979 novel, later made into a very popular movie with Meryl Streep, Sophie is told she must choose between her two small children, one or the other, and that the one she doesn’t choose will be summarily executed.

The city’s survey says we must choose between essential services – “Public Safety, Addressing Homelessness*, Road Maintenance, Parks, Conservation*, and Economic Vibrancy*”. This isn’t really a choice, it’s a threat to cut one or all of these services if we don’t pony up a sales tax increase. (* These ridiculously specious terms deserve their own blog post)

Here’s what they left out – I just opened the city’s 2021-22 budget, here:

I did a routine F-search with words like “pension stabilization trust”, or just “pension”, and here’s something new I found – “CALPERS UNFUNDED LIABILITY RSV FUND” – that’s Fund 903, page 115. That is separate from the “PENSION STABILIZATION TRUST FUND”, Fund 904, page 116. I knew about the PST, and so should you, cause I’ve mentioned it here about 365 times. But wow, another fund I haven’t heard of, with a 2021-22 balance of over $11.6 million. These bastards are finding new nutshells to hide their peas under every time I turn around!

Revenue sources for this fund include transfers from the General Fund. The description for this fund – “Fund to account for annual payments of CalPERS Unfunded Liability.” Apparently, they use this fund to provide revenues for the “Pension Stabilization Fund,” out of which they make the payments to CalPERS. See what I mean about nutshells?

And how is it funded? “Each department will set aside a set percentage of payroll costs to fund the annual payment of the CalPERS unfunded liability. A target reserve of 10 percent of the annual unfunded liability expenditure will be retained in the fund.

There it is – they’ve been TAKING 10 percent of the liability – now over $150 million – siphoned from existing funds – the road fund, the park fund, the sewer fund, etc. That’s why the street in front of your house looks like something from Downtown Kyiv right now, and the city is talking about taxing you based on the volume of water you get from Cal Water.

I guess I should thank Jeremy Lazarus for challenging me to prove this. He’s been calling me out, telling me to “get a clue.” Well, thanks, you Idiot, I got it, I got it good.

It’s St Paddy’s, let’s spread some enlightenment – write those letters, emails, yak it up – council is putting a simple tax measure on the ballot, and the proceeds can be spent any way Mark Orme decides to spend them. And that will be, on the pensions.

17 Mar

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, all ye faithful. Like St. Patrick, you might try a little enlightenment!

Start with the truth about the city’s proposed sales tax measure. There’s a lot of misinformation floating around about this measure, but if I were to pick the most important non-truth being forwarded, purposefully, by the proponents, here it is: Mark Orme is trying to make people believe that the revenues generated by this new tax will go toward infrastructure and public safety. He spreads this willful misinformation, knowing fully well that council is planning to pursue a simple measure, requiring only 51% of the vote to pass, and that means there are no restrictions on the spending, and none can be made.

I’m not going to sit here while a guy who makes over $200,000/year to mismanage our town uses his position of respect in the community to spread a bunch of lies. So here’s my letter about that.

The city of Chico suffers from poor leadership and mismanagement. While city manager Mark Orme boasts that Chico is in  “the best financial shape it has been in recent years…”, taxpayers experience deteriorating infrastructure and increasing lack of services. Mayor Andrew Coolidge responds to our concerns as petty complaints, telling us to “roll up your sleeves and get to work…” What does that mean?

Orme and Coolidge propose a one-cent sales tax increase. Orme says, “It’s an opportunity for the public to make a determination of what they want their future to look like…”

Let me guess what the future will look like if we pass this tax. The city’s biggest debt at present is the over $150 million Unfunded Accrued Liability, or pension deficit, to CalPERS. While deferring maintenance and services, Staff makes increasing payments toward the UAL, millions a year.

According to NSPR News, “Orme made indications during Thursday’s address that investments in police and fire departments, road maintenance, homelessness solutions and small business support would be made.”

But Orme can’t make any promises, since council and staff have made it clear they will put a simple majority measure on the ballot, and the revenues will be deposited in the General Fund, with no restrictions on spending. The voters, if they pass this measure, will have absolutely no determination how the money is spent.

If the past is any indication of the future, we’ll watch the price of everything go up, while infrastructure and services continue to deteriorate.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA