Tag Archives: CARD assessment 2016

Happy Election Day! Time to join Chico Taxpayers Association, get ready for the tax blitz!

3 Nov

Gotta love this modern world – today, my cell phone reminded me, is Election Day, “all day.” 

The second Tuesday in November is reserved for elections, whether or not there are any issues to put on the ballot. Elections are usually held in even years, but “special elections” can be called in the event of a vacancy on a board or maybe somebody gathered enough signatures to put a measure up. I’m not sure what the rules are. There’s also an opportunity for “special elections” in June.

What I do know is we have a year before next Election Day, and things are going to start happening over the next six months. People are going to announce their candidacies, and I’d bet my last five dollars at least two tax initiatives will pop up – I’m guessing, Chico PD will go for a sales tax increase and CARD will pursue a bond or assessment on our homes.

There are different ways this can happen. For the sales tax increase, I believe Chico City Council could just vote to put it on the ballot, or they could require some local group to go out and get the signatures on petitions. Measure J, the cell phone tax measure, was placed on the ballot by city councilors, although I can’t remember the vote, it wasn’t unanimous. I don’t know if it takes a simple or super majority to place a measure on the ballot. 

The elected board at CARD could also decide to put an assessment or bond on the ballot, or, failing to get the required votes, refuse to place it on the ballot, necessitating the collection of signatures on petitions by some local group. 

One group that has mentioned raising the sales tax specifically for Chico Police is local realtor Jack Van Rossum, who is also with an organization called “Chico Police Department Business Support Team”.  Interviewed by Alan Chamberlain on his podcast “Chico Currents,” Van Rossum said he would like to have a sales tax increase that is devoted to hiring more staff for the police department. 

I have not seen anything in the agendas about this issue, but I know this man, or member of his group, or the police chief, the president of the CPOA – anybody can lobby members of council separately. Under the toothless Brown Act, he can speak to each and every one of them, and as long as there aren’t four of them in the room together, the public is out of the conversation.  I sat at one meeting where our mayor Mark Sorensen went on at length about the ways council members can kibitz city issues privately without violating the Brown Act.  I know neither Sorensen, Coolidge nor Fillmer are stupid enough to get caught there – and they can check with Debbie Presson, who councils them in the ways in which they can circumvent the Brown Act. 

Morgan is stupid enough, but he knows he’s being watched.

So, I’m guessing there has been a lively conversation about raising sales tax, here and there, snitch and snatch, but we won’t hear about it until they’ve figured out how to get it on the ballot without getting kicked out in the 2018 election.   My prediction is, if they pass this tax, Morgan, Coolidge and Fillmer will toss Sorensen to the taxpayers like a spring lamb and then throw down over who gets the mayor’s chair. 

As for CARD, I’d bet they will also throw a bond or assessment on the ballot without much discussion. I think they’ve already decided to do it, they’re obviously trying to figure out how to frame it for the public.

Imagine my surprise when I read David Little’s editorial this morning:

“CARD promises at least one more of these wish-list meetings, which get people excited about the possibilities. But even though there’s an obvious need for a facility and the site is chosen, CARD continues to ignore for now a key component: money.”

Tough Guy, eh? 

“The consultant says the financing question will be addressed later, but it seems backward. It’s useless to do studies, gather stakeholders and invite the community to public meetings — all of which costs taxpayer money — before figuring out what the community can afford.”

Oh, I forgot – Little did not attend nor did he send any reporter to the 4pm committee meeting that preceded the 7pm public meeting. He would have heard the consultants both telling the committee the same thing. I could tell both consultants were getting frustrated – this group wants all the bells and whistles, they want to sell a pie-in-the-sky to the voters, without showing the price tag right up front. That is exactly what CARD and the Chico Area Swim Association people are trying to do – get us drunk and then tell us to get out our check books.

Even Little is going along with the notion that “user groups” will pay for this turkey.

“CARD has already said it doesn’t have the millions for an aquatic center just sitting around. So any multimilliondollar project would require financial support from swim teams, businesses and taxpayers, probably in the form of a tax.”

The lady consultant flat said it – “user groups” come to the table with their palms up, hands empty. The editor whispers into his shirtsleeve, “probably in the form of a tax.”  Probably? Again, he didn’t attend the meetings, any of them. I wonder if he saw CARD consultant Greg Melton’s three design proposals, the cheapest of which was $10 million. 

It’s easy to see where the Enterprise Record sits on this thing – that’s a pretty limp-wristed protest. I’m guessing they will back the sales tax increase as well.

So, we have our work cut out for us. It’s time to join Chico Taxpayers Association. What does that involve? Stay tuned here. Attend meetings and write a report for me to post. Write letters to the city council and CARD. I’ll keep posting the information and the links, it’s up to you to act.

Like Arlo Guthrie said in Alice’s Restaurant ramble, “One guy is crazy, two guys are (politically incorrect), but three guys – that’s a movement…”

 

 

 

 

Do your research on CARD budget, come to some meetings – we need to shut down their tax grab before it gets out of the gate

26 Apr

Chico Area Rec District (CARD) is going to be mounting a phone campaign, I’d say within the next couple of months, maybe sooner, to get the public to support a tax measure. They say the money will go toward a new aquatic center, but we’ll have to wait for the details. If they put the money in the General Fund it can be used for anything, including their pensions.

At the last board meeting I attended, the board approved the hiring of a consultant to conduct the phone campaign, we’ll see how long that takes. I will try to keep an eye on these meetings – regular board meetings are held once a month, on a Thursday around the 15th of the month. Board agendas are posted  on the website, in advance, so it’s easy to keep an eye on them.

http://www.chicorec.com/About-Card/CARD-Resources/Board-of-Directors/index.html

They are supposed to notice me if they have an Aquatic Facility Advisory Committee meeting, but there’s all kinds of ways to get around the notice list, as I’ve seen over the last couple of years. Who cares about me anyway – the entire community needs to be in on this conversation, and  they need to do a little research to avoid being hood-winked. Here’s a letter I wrote about it to the Enterprise Record:

Last year Chico Area Recreation District announced that Shapiro and Pleasant Valley pools had fallen so badly into disrepair they would be closed in 2016.

They’ve talked for over a decade about a new aquatic facility but excessive management salaries and fully paid benefits and pension have caused financial problems. In 2013 they cut staff hours to make a $400,000 “side fund pay-off” to CalPERS for management pensions.   At an “emergency” meeting April 2, interim director Steve Visconti told the board, “with day-to-day operations, and all these projects, it’s really hard for staff…they are spread so thin…”  

CARD spent $25,000 surveying property owners in 2013 but the bond consultant reported “no support” in the community for an aquatic center, suggesting they mount a campaign to change public sentiment. CARD formed a committee that met without public scrutiny for over a year, contacting designers and other consultants. At the April 16 board meeting, former CARD director Jerry Hughes and Aqua Jets president Brad Geise recommended  a $30,000 phone campaign to convince taxpayers they need to pay for this project. The board approved. 

I’d like to caution the public – do some research on your own before you answer any questions.  CARD budgets, reports, and minutes of their past meetings are available on their website, under “Resources”. The State Controller website shows the salaries and compensation packages:  http://preview.tinyurl.com/nzn3n8c

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

I don’t know if that link for the State Controller worked, here’s a regular link to that website:

http://publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/SpecialDistricts/SpecialDistrict.aspx?fiscalyear=2013&entityid=1875

CARD management pay nothing toward their benefits or pensions.

When I talk to my friends who have grown up in Chico they are floored to find out CARD is closing Shapiro and Pleasant Valley pools.  I took my kids to those pools for five or six years, and they were packed full for both the CARD swimming lessons and the “rec swim” every afternoon. I remember when people had to line up at 7am on Saturday mornings to sign their kids up for swim lessons, and they would, bringing drive-thru coffee and lawn chairs, staking out the line at 6:30 am three or four Saturdays every  summer.

The pools declined before our eyes. They  had needed to enlarge and update the restrooms at both pools for years, but nothing was done. I watched the same maintenance man lumber between both pools, cursing the equipment as he mended this and monkey-rigged that, trying to keep things running. I remember him admonishing the pool staff – “if you hear  that pump making that noise again, you shut it down!”

One day I listened to a contractor tell the manager at PV pool that the  pool had a crack, that’s why it wouldn’t heat, it was leaking too fast. He said it could be fixed for $2500. The manager responded he didn’t think CARD would pay for it, they wanted to build a new pool. I thought he meant, a new pool at that site, I didn’t know about the proposed aquatic center. Aqua Jets ended up leaving over that crack, taking their business to In Motion Fitness. I believe that loss of revenue really hurt CARD.

Sure, CARD management wants a new pool, but they know it won’t happen for years. Kids whose parents support this thing will not use it. They know most of the revenue will be eaten by administrative costs – their salaries, benefits and pensions. They also know the cost will climb steadily, probably double or triple the $10 – 18 million estimate range  consultant Greg Melton put on it. They know, it may never even happen.

I’ll keep you posted on the phone campaign.