Tag Archives: Chico garbage tax

Letter to the Editor – raising salaries without raising pension shares just raises the pension deficit

26 Apr

During the Measure H campaign the city of Chico made all kinds of promises to get the streets repaired. Did you ask them what they meant by that? According to the city website, this is what you can expect:

  • Crack Seals – Filling cracks in the roadway with hot sealant to protect the pavement from water, which can enter the cracks and further damage the road.
  • Slurry Seals – Protecting existing pavement with a mixture of fine crushed rock and liquid asphalt cement applied over the entire roadway surface.
  • Overlays – Repaving the top layer of the roadway.
  • Asphalt or Concrete Replacement – Completing small asphalt or concrete patch repairs.

These are all repairs. Bandaid patches. Reground asphalt poured over a broken surface – this was what they did to Vallombrosa a few years back, and it lasted less than a year. Have you taken a good look at the street in front of your house lately, cause the street in front of my house has broken pavement, loose from the base, with potholes that show dirt. That is beyond repair – most of our residential streets need to be scraped down to the base and completely resurfaced, as were that section of Pine/Mulberry/Cypress from 9th Street to East 20th. Of course, that was paid for with a grant, part of the effort to achieve compliance with the 1990 Americans with Disabilities Act. 30 years late, with money that had to be matched from city funds.

Yes, they promised to “fix” our streets with the garbage franchise fee (tax), and I believe the franchise fees (taxes) from PG&E and Comcast should be used to fix streets – or what’s the basis for collecting them? Oh yeah – a tits-out remodel of City Hall.

But right now the city is putting all our money into salary increases and the pension deficit. They just re-hired a former staffer to a similar management position, for $40,000 more, without asking him to pay a higher share toward his new, increased pension cost. What the fuck?!? So, you know me – I wrote a letter to the editor about it.

Redding is discussing salaries and benefits – Chico should pay close attention. Redding firefighters have been offered 26% raises, in exchange for raising their benefits share from 10 to 20%.

This is typical in the public sector – give them raises to cover their contribution. That is self-defeating. A few years ago, Chico management agreed to pay 3% more – with raises. Last year, council raised management salaries again. One former management employee was recently rehired to a similar position, with a $40,000 salary increase.

Raising salaries raises the pension deficit, and Chico employees’ tiny contributions are spit on the griddle. Right now, Chico’s total contribution is less than 50% of total cost, with employees offering only 9 – 15%. That’s why the State Auditor gave Chico a “future pension cost” rank of 33 out of 482 cities – with 1 being the worst. Instead of reining in the pension deficit, they’re giving it a full head.

Chico council and staff have demanded more from the public – garbage rate increase, unrestricted sales tax increase, doubled the sewer rate, now increasing builder fees and home prices. How about asking Chico employees to pay more out of their generous salaries? And here’s another suggestion – they need to pay a share toward the deficit they have created.

Instead, money is siphoned from every city fund, into the CalPERS Unfunded Liability Reserve Fund and the Pension Stabilization Trust. While they slap leftover asphalt on potholes, council has already authorized a $12.5 million payment to CalPERS for 2023.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

Will we be forced to sue the city over the garbage tax? Ask Debbie Presson debbie.presson@chicoca.gov

26 Jan

One of the better news sources we have here in Chico/Butte County is the Butte County Fires and Accidents Facebook – better known as “bcfac”. Here’s a story I have not seen in the local news media –


Chico, CA Saturday 1/21/2023 7:25 PM BCFAC: A juvenile just walked up to a house asking for help, reporting unknown people robbed him of his bicycle and property in Bidwell Park.

Yeah, sometimes kids make up stuff – unfortunately this story is true. Two 26 year old adults were arrested for “strong arm robbery, willful cruelty to a child and annoying or molesting a person under 18 years of age”.

How would you feel if that was your kid? I know what I’d do, but let’s not talk about it here.

Why should I have to behave myself? Our town has become lawless, and you know Folks, when the fish stinks, it’s the head of the fish that stinks. Here in Chico, we have a many-headed fish, including 7 council members, a police chief and a city council member turned city manager.

And now, according to lawyer/activist Rob Berry, the “public safety” measure Kasey Reynolds floated onto the last ballot is completely gutless. Here’s Berry’s description of how a citizen would use Measure L to complain about a problem, like, how about – rampant crime all over town?

Measure L gives you a means to report a public nuisance on city land. It has to be particularly injurious to you. That is, if you were going to report litter at an encampment, you need to live nearby, not across town. It is one tool, not for everything. So one example that has come up is the encampment at Eaton and Cohasset. Before, the only thing available was a civil lawsuit.. Now you can simply fill out a form and the city has to respond, and if it’s valid, they should abate the nuisance. For example, restricting the use, citing for littering, illegal structures, etc. They are required to reduce the impact of the nuisance. That is how it is used.

No disrespect to Berry, but there it is – this measure is completely useless to 99.9% of the population. I read the measure – did any of you who voted YES on it actually read it first? It is very clear – the city gets to decide whose complaint is valid – gee, walked into that one with your pants down, didn’t you?

Right now the city is trying to clear Teichert Ponds. I don’t live nearby, but I know the people that live in that illegal encampment are shoplifting from nearby businesses – again, you have to check bcfac to hear these reports, the local media doesn’t pay much attention to this type of crime. In many instances, these people are followed right back to that camp. Frankly, this is just another reason NOT to shop in Chico – many of these business refuse to press charges, passing the cost of the crime onto the paying customer. At Walmart, it means you have to find an employee with a key before you can buy everyday items like socks and underwear.

It also means the customer is at risk. At Mangrove Safeway I was almost knocked down by a guy stealing a bottle of booze. The manager apologized to me but I don’t know if charges were pressed. I later saw the guy laying on the sidewalk alongside Kwando, empty bottles on the ground next to him. We used to live two blocks from that plaza and shopped there almost daily. We sold that house as we watched the crime move up our street, into our driveway. We still live in the general neighborhood but we don’t shop there anymore.

When we run errands in Chico while we’re out doing chores, one of us always has to sit in the truck while the other goes into the store so our tools won’t get stolen. I’ll never forget the transient who tried to act super drunk while he rolled his way along the bed of our truck trying to see what we had in the back. When he rolled across my passenger window my dog went nuts – it was comical to see how fast the man sobered up and walked away.

Chico used to be such a great town, it’s hard to see. But you know, it’s our own fault – we elected the people on council. We elected the people who passed a “Shelter Crisis Designation,” got us into a lawsuit, built a cardboard “homeless” camp on a children’s bicycle track, passed a sham measure designed to force us to sue if we don’t like what they’re doing, raised our sales tax, instituted an illegal garbage tax and most recently, announced a sewer tax over Christmas holiday.

Speaking of the garbage tax, no, I have not heard back from our lovely and vivacious city clerk about my request to agendize “Zolly v City of Oakland”. I have the worst feeling this is going to play out like the illegal cell phone tax the city of Chico collected for years. Measure L will not help us here – Chico taxpayers had to wait for a rich guy named Donald Sipple to sue cities all over California for collecting the tax, and then wade through a very misinformative campaign for the measure Ann Schwab put on the ballot – Measure J. In my experience trying to defeat that measure, I was shocked how many people didn’t know they were paying such a tax, and the very common response was, “what does Chico do to provide me with cell phone service?” The answer – nothing, it was just a shakedown. Like the sales tax, the garbage tax and the sewer tax.

So I’ll keep you posted here, and you keep me posted – don’t just stand there with your mouth open, flies will get in. Please cc me on your email to clerk Debbie Presson debbie.presson@chicoca.gov asking for the Zolly v City of Oakland discussion to be agendized, and I’ll post it here on the blog.

search term of the week: “how to defeat a city sales tax increase…”

4 Oct

I’ve been busy – I got a splinter in my finger and whoa, it got infected. Having run the gamut with the local medical scene, I waited until it was swollen up like a basketball and then I got a new razor blade out of my husband’s tool box and I cut it.

BOOM! Bloody puss everywhere, what a mess. I had to cut it a couple more times to get all the junk out, squeezing it and dabbing at it with a Q-tip soaked in witch hazel. Then I took a pair of scissors we got from the vet, and I cut the rest of the blister off so it wouldn’t get full of puss again. At this point I started to see tadpoles swimming in my eyeballs so I had to quit.

I would have amputated the finger to avoid a trip to any of our filthy local medical establishments. I’m looking at it right now, poking it with my other finger and everything – I can’t believe it’s almost healed already. Feels brand new, except a stiff little scab on the tip of my finger. It’s shocking how an injury like that just takes all my concentration, even now I think about it every time I touch that finger to the keyboard.

It’s still hard to concentrate with all the stuff going on around here. It’s like one of those tv shows where the plot line is so complicated, if you miss one episode you might as well quit watching. And when I turn to fellow audience members to see what happened while I was in the bathroom, I get, “sorry, I missed that meeting…” or “oh, I don’t have time…”  

After a recent conversation with one of my elected representatives and staff regarding the homeless situation, crime, and the County Behavioral Health Department, I’m tempted to blow this whole Chico scene and go off grid.  Just say,  Fuck it,  like EVERY DAY.  But when I look at that sea of crap floating in here and all I got is this little dinghy, I want to scream at the top of my lungs, “Man the battle stations!” There is nothing left but The Fight. I won’t give up everything I own here and hit the road like a dust bowl Oakie.  

So imagine my delight when I look at the search engine and see “how to defeat a city sales tax increase” hanging among the debris of the week? Somebody else is out there!  

I wonder what they found besides this blog. I type their search phrase into the computer.

I find out, right off the top, about two-and-a-half years ago, the voters of Los Angeles defeated a half-cent sales tax increase – $211 million/year “to prevent layoffs, fund the Los Angeles police and fire departments and improve city streets and sidewalks.”  Facing a $215 million deficit, 55% of voters just said “No!” to their city employees’ outrageous demands. Good for the people of Los Angeles. But that’s kind of a squeaker.

Next I read an interesting story from Park City, Kansas, a small town near Wichita, where a sales tax increase was placed on the 2008 ballot.   According to a pre-election article in  the Wichita Business Journal, ” a proposed one-cent sales-tax increase over 10 years — to be decided by voters Nov. 4 — to finance the construction of an $8 million recreation center is putting Park City’s pro-business reputation under fire.”

There are pictures of businesses around town with “Vote No” messages on their marquees – a sign at the local Spangles gives a phone number and encourages passersby to contact their  council members. “Park City business owners talk about the competitive disadvantage and how a higher sales tax rate would drive patrons to places outside the city with a cheaper sales tax.”

Good for Park City business owners, and good for the voters who turned out to trounce that measure by 88%.

In 2014, Wichita tried their own sales tax increase – to fix roads was all I could find on that – but the voters defeated that measure by 62%. There were three sales tax increase measures on the Sedgewick County  ballot that year, all defeated.

Kansas kicks ass. 

But, I can’t find very much about how they defeated these measures.  And there’s not much news for what happened afterwards. I found an article that threatened more highway fatalities because Missouri voters defeated a sales tax grab.


That’s all they have – threats. Here in Chico, our police department threatens not to do their job. Well, they already don’t do their job, so what do we have for perspective?

I find, I’m not the only person who thinks the government is a financial black hole, that our public employees are only interested in their personal finances, and that we the taxpayers have had enough. 




Talking heads discuss garbage tax

7 May

Yesterday I attended the Local Governments Committee meeting Downtown. I wasn’t able to stay for the whole meeting but stayed long enough to satisfy my curiosity about some issues I’ve been trying to follow. 

In attendance were county supervisors Maureen Kirk and Larry Wahl, Chico council members Mayor Mark Sorensen, Mayor of Vice Sean Morgan and better-never-than-late Reanette Fillmer. There were staffers from the city and the county, including county administrator Paul Hahn and city manager Mark Orme.

These meetings are for staffers to provide updates to representatives of various county and city entities of ongoing issues like the nitrate compliance plan and the garbage franchise.  They are open to the public and the public should try to attend – a good overview of what’s going on, shorter and more to the point than council meetings.  I’m sorry, I mistakenly said they are held monthly – it’s every three months, which is a good schedule, not too often, not too seldom. They include minutes from previous meetings so you can stay up on the conversation.

Yesterday Hahn and Orme both gave reports on their respective garbage franchise efforts. At the county, Hahn made it clear that the main concern is getting enough trash to keep the dump operating, so the franchise includes a provision that trash must go to the Neal Road Landfill. This was a question because Recology owns and operates a dump in Wheatland where they are currently taking Chico’s trash. Trash  from the county now goes exclusively to Neal Road. 

Hahn went on enthusiastically about how they need that money to modernize the dump. I’ve seen improvements at the dump the last few years so I’m willing to believe him. I also appreciate his frankness – he complained, and other county staffers like Bill Mannel complained about Waste Management. They said  their phones “rang off the hook” for about two weeks with complaints about the new trash service, “mostly Waste Management.” Waste Management has no call center in  California – you WM customers knew that already – it’s in PHOENIX! If you’ve had that problem with WM for years, maybe it’s a comfort for you to know they treated your $200,000/year County Administrative Officer like shit too.

And frankly, for an overpaid pencil pusher, Hahn is a very nice and approachable man, that kind of pisses me off. 

The county had  all  kinds of problems with WM, but the one that got people really upset was the change  from weekly recycling and yard waste pick-up to bi-monthly pick-up. After all these years they’ve been telling us we need to recycle and sort our yard waste, they cut service? I can’t believe they thought that would be okay – this whole thing is a Repo-Man grab between the county, the haulers, and the customers, fighting over nickels and dimes because the county is so desperate to keep the salaries paid. That’s why the dump has no money, the are management heavy out there. 

Another problem was private roads. Garbage trucks shred even  paved roads, so a lot of people in Forest Ranch and other rural communities don’t want them on their private roads. The haulers won’t go on a private road anymore without a signed release, they don’t want to be responsible for what their oversized trucks do  to private roads. Bill Mannel says there’s a conundrum here – if the county forces the haulers onto private roads without the release of liability, they will be legally responsible for the roads. But, county money cannot be used to fix private roads. This is also a problem in Chico – I have two private driveways shared with neighbors who bring trucks right up to my gate. I asked Orme about this and he pretended ignorance – there’s private driveways all  over Chico, do people know their rights regarding the damage these trucks are doing to their private property? 

It was refreshing to hear these people talk straight about the problems the average person has every day.  And we have no clout, we have to depend on these happy wanderers to protect us.  Talk about “up Shit Creek without a paddle.”  At least the county is not making service mandatory, they just want whatever trash is picked up to go  to their dump. I don’t think that’s unreasonable – ever follow a garbage truck for 60 miles up Hwy 70? That’s unreasonable. 

Chico City Mangler Mark Orme made it clear that the city’s franchise agreement is about money for the city of Chico. When I asked him if service would  be mandatory for city residents, he wormed  around (I’m going to call that, “Orming”), saying this was still in negotiation with the haulers. But he added, many municipalities require trash service, and the way he said it leads me to believe that’s what he wants. When I asked him about a subsidy for low-income, he said that was in negotiation too.

I wish  I were a lawyer, but I do know, if they try to shove mandatory service on us, they have to have the low-income subsidy,  just like Obamacare. 

I don’t like Mark Orme. He’s out for his own gain, he doesn’t give a crap about this town. 

After the garbage franchise report they went on to discuss a few other interesting topics – I’ll get back to you on those, time to get to work. 

Local Government Committee – a good meeting for an overview of local government activities – today, 3:30, City Hall Conference Room 2

6 May

Today I will try to make a 3:30 meeting of the “Local Government Committee” – made up of representatives from the various local agencies, city council,  county board of supervisors, CARD, etc. Staff presents reports on issues like the solid waste franchise agreements and other activities of these taxing entities. I’ve realized, if you can’t attend every meeting, this is a good way to keep an eye on county and city business.

At the last meeting in February, for example, they talked about the lack of any kind of mental health facility – like I’ve said, the cops pick up these people around Chico, and have no place to take them but Enloe Hospital. As far as I know, Enloe does not receive compensation for these people.  Enloe constantly complains about uncompensated patients – well, there you have it. Chico PD won’t arrest these people because they don’t want to be responsible for the hospital bill, so they are free to wander out as they please. 

The county has been discussing a new location for a 24 hour facility since the old facility on Rio Lindo was shut down (don’t know when that was). The law says the building has to be in a residential area? Zoning? Not sure, but so far, neighbors have harpooned an attempt to place it on Pillsbury.  Now staff has a location at Cohasset and Rio Lindo “that meets the residential requirements and is in better location surrounded by various facilities and business that serve the public. The County is negotiating with Enloe Hospital for a parcel split. There will be an approximate 120-day escrow period prior to the County obtaining State licensing for the facility which is expected to accommodate 10 residents and have 24 hour staffing.”

So, they are buying land from Enloe? How much will they pay? I’ll have to ask, they will be giving another update today. 

Mark Orme will talk about the city waste hauler franchise – he says they will be ready with that in July. When I sat in on the consultant’s report, he said the deal would have to include mandatory service for all city residents to make it practical for the hauler, but when I asked Chris Constantin about a low-income subsidy he said he couldn’t answer yet. I’ll see if they have that answer today.

Here’s the link to today’s agenda, and a link for the minutes from the February meeting.