Tag Archives: Chico sales tax increase

Why did the city give $8 million from the sewer fund to PG&E? New thermostats for city hall? Again?

16 Jan

Tomorrow night the city of Chico will hold a hearing regarding their proposed sewer tax. Make no mistake – this is a tax, but it’s legal now because the city owns the sewer plant. One thing that really bothers me about this “rate change”, is that when they sell the plant to Cal Water – and you can check the agendas for yourself, they’ve been talking about it – Cal Water will no longer have to notice us for annual rate hikes.

Not to mention, the city is going to be charging us for water we already paid for, including water that never enters the sewer system. All because they can’t handle money Downtown. Here’s a good example I found in the 22-23 budget – out of an $11 million sewer fund, they gave PG&E “$8,487,515 to Project 50522 PG&E SST Phase 2… to reduce the costs of energy usage at City facilities and to help meet Climate Action Plan goals.”


Sure, one of those facilities is the sewer plant, where PG&E made some upgrades, but new thermostats at City Hall? How does that pencil out of the sewer budget? Cause that’s how they spend money Downtown. Sure they have enough money in the sewer budget to make (more) upgrades at City Hall, or should we call it, “Taj Mahal”? But they need a sewer tax, and a sales tax, and they need the Utility Tax AND franchise fees on PG&E, Comcast and Waste Management?

As I said in my last post, those franchise fees, particularly the trash tax, are all under question as of a Supreme Court decision made about six months ago in the case of Zolly vs the City of Oakland. Laura Dougherty of Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association suggests we inform our city of that decision, hoping we won’t have to sue, as did ratepayers in Oakland. But, she gave me a list of attorneys, I’ll be keeping that in my side pocket.

Something my dad told me when my brother went in the Navy – nobody is going to stick up for you, you have to learn to stick up for yourself. I’ll give you that same advice. And I’ll borrow a quote from actor/voice artist/radio ham Harry Shearer – if you’re looking for honesty and truth in government you’re looking for apples in the cheese section.

If you haven’t turned in your sewer rate protest already please do it either today or tomorrow at the city building. Don’t forget your parcel number – I did, and now I have to go Downtown to fix it. But, like my dad told me, nobody is going to do that for me. I just hope I don’t step in bum shit or get hit by a drunk walking by Duffy’s.

Next time let’s compare Chico to the state of California – both make too many spending decisions based on ideology – their own – instead of pragmatic solutions for the tax and ratepayers.

Rent is going UP in Chico – meet your new landlord, Mark Orme

6 Dec

Today the Internal Affairs Committee is going to discuss the rental tax that was shelved earlier this year. This tax includes a “rental registry” (and a fee) and a tax on proceeds. One provision that ruffled my tenants – they want to inspect the rentals. I don’t think that’s appropriate – are they going to start inspecting owner-occupied housing? Read your constitution – they’re not allowed to treat citizens differently based on their housing situation.

Here’s another thing – the agenda does not include a report. There’s a reference to the May 2021 meeting at which it was first discussed, but I had to email staff to ask them where I could find that meeting agenda or minutes. I’ll get back with that.


Some years back, when the state proposed a sales tax increase, local manufacturer Ken Grossman said he would simply add that tax to every bottle of beer he sold. And then some. I’ll say, landlords will do same. So, it’s not really a “rent tax,” it’s a “renter tax”.

This tax, part of a bigger “business tax”, is just part of the tax blitz being brought forward by Staffers desperate to fund their outrageous pensions. According to the constitution, any tax should be on the ballot for the voters to decide, but Staff is making all the preparations to institute these taxes without voter approval. Let them know what you think – write letters to the editor, to your district rep, and to the council at large.

That meeting takes place today at 4pm, with members (newly appointed) Chief O’Brien, Dist 7 Deepika Tandon, and my rep Kasey Reynolds in the Chair. I will try to make it, because getting information out of these people is like pulling teeth.

Coolidge’s tax increase proposals are the grist they need for their pension obligation bond. Chico cost of living will increase while quality of living will decrease.

28 Feb

This Tuesday Chico City council has an over-full agenda. I notice a lot of the remarks on Engaged Chico question the timing of some of the items, with meetings closed to the public. It seems like they’ve packed the agenda with stupid crap like a Downtown card room, after promising us they’d only discuss “essential business” during the shutdown. 

Nichole Nava sums it up, “This topic and a couple of others should be tabled until the E[xecutive] O[rder] has ended and FULL public participation resumes. Continuing to place items such as this one on the agenda while still under the PHE is not the responsible course of action.”

Hidden deep in this mystery meat agenda are two tax proposals from Andrew Coolidge. Coolidge is proposing not only a sales tax increase for “police and fire,” but a bond for “road improvements.” I feel this agenda has been packed for a reason – they want to distract us from the tax increase proposals they are trying to run under the wire. 

If you read the financial reports attached at the end of the agenda, you see that the city is collecting more revenues every year, and paying more toward the UAL every year. This year they paid out $11.4 million, just in “catch-up” payments, That doesn’t include the regular payroll payments they allocate out of each department budget. But Coolidge wants these measures to guarantee the POB that comes up later in the agenda. All the while the UAL is growing out of control because council has failed to control employee costs.

Hidden even more deeply in the casserole – Item 5.12 – is a request from City Manager Mark Orme (“Staff”) to move forward the Pension Obligation validation process. 

 “Staff is requesting approval to continue exploring the CalPERS Unfunded Accrued Liability (UAL)…”

Well, that’s interesting – “staff is requesting approval…” Meaning, Mark Orme. Orme knows they need that POB before CalPERS ups the ante again. And, he knows they need the sales tax increase and a bond to cover the payments on the POB. This is a desperate scheme, and we’re the ones who will be left holding the bag for this bond. If we don’t approve the sales tax increase and Coolidge’s bond, the POB payments will bottom out our budget. But even if we do approve those new taxes, we will not get street/road repairs, we will not see more police, but the cops and the rest of the employees will be guaranteed their overgenerous pensions. 

Right now the city is bargaining with the Chico Police Officers Association for a new contract. Instead of asking them to pay more toward their generous pensions and benefits, council is turning the stick on the rest of us. The public safety groups – CPOA and the International Firefighters – only pay 15% toward pensions of 90% of salaries exceeding $100,000/year. That’s ridiculous – $15 for every $100 they expect to collect for sitting on their asses in retirement. But here’s the funny thing – they also pay more than any other bargaining group. Management, with the highest salaries, pay the least – 9%. They expect us to pay their salaries now, and then pay them again, with Cost of Living Increase!  

If you haven’t already commented on Engaged Chico


please do. This bond will tank our budget. The sales tax increase and (yet another!) bond on our homes will raise the cost of living in Chico even further, just in case things are expensive enough for you already. 

They raised the cost of our trash service 19% – have you seen any improvement in the street in front of your house? Coolidge is bullshitting us again, just say NO. 

Did that chamber remodel really cost $345,000? Or is the city of Chico secretly siphoning funding to pay down the pension debt?

2 Feb

I asked city clerk Debbie Presson how much the city gets from Comcast customers per year, and she sent me a report.

“I am attaching a staff report from the 11/7/17 that may help to explain how the PEG funds are allocated to the City, which includes the yearly amount passed through to the City. “

You can see the whole report at the city website, under the agenda/minutes filed for the 11/7/17 meeting:


On December 18, 2007, the City Council adopted Ordinance No. 2368 which established, among other things, a
public, educational and governmental (PEG) support fee of one percent (1%) of the gross revenues of state video
franchisees operating within the City of Chico which is codified in Chico Municipal Code Title 5, Chapter 5.13,
Section 5.13.050. California Public Utilities Code Section 5870(n) was enacted as part of the Digital
Infrastructure and Video Competition Act of 2006 (DIVCA) and states that such an ordinance shall expire, and
may be reauthorized, upon the expiration of a state franchise. Comcast is currently the only state video
franchisee operating within the city of Chico and has a state video franchise certificate which will be expiring on
January 2, 2018. To ensure that there is no gap in the payment of PEG support fees, the City Council is being
asked to reauthorize the City’s PEG support fee and amend Title 5, Chapter 5.13 to include automatic
reauthorization of the PEG support fee.

I’m sorry, I don’t have eyes in the back of my head, I missed this one. And now they’ve made it automatic, so they may never have to discuss it in front of the public again. This is one reason people are so ignorant of what the local government is doing – they’re tricky, and they hide stuff, the fucking dirt bags. Did you know, they are allowed to destroy records after a year? That’s another ordinance they swept right under the rug. Ask council member if they know about it, and I’m guessing, they’ll lie through their teeth.

Look how $taff introduced the subject back in November:

Recommendation: The City Manager recommends that the City Council introduce the ordinance below by
reading of its title only.


Yes, Chico city manager Mark  Orme made this recommendation, and he’s the one who came up with the title – which makes no reference whatsoever to a fee. That guy is the head of the stinking fish that is our local government.

Cause when the fish stinks, it’s the head of the fish that stinks…

Furthermore, ” In fiscal year 2016-17 the fee resulted in revenue in the amount of $183,304.”

Now, any idiot would know, Comcast didn’t pay that $183,304 – they picked up the ratepayers by the ankles, and shook it out of their pockets. Which is just about anybody in Chico who uses cable because “ Comcast is currently the only state video franchisee operating within the city of Chico…”  In fact, I’d guess, they can’t dump the whole charge on their video customers so they also tack it on to their internet billing. Read your bill – do you know what all those charges are for? 

One cable/internet company, just like we only have one garbage company.   

The city is involved in a racket. They set us up with one provider for whatever service and therefore we are forced to use that provider, and that provider can call whatever rates that provider wants, as long as they go along with the city racket. 

Furthermore, “The revenue from the PEG support fee is allocated in the city’s budget to support the operations of BCAC TV
Channel 11, through a Public, Education and Governmental Access Channel Operations agreement with Upstate
Community Enhancement Foundation (UCEF) (Project No. 210-000-8801/50284-210-4800) as well as for the
equipment and capital costs associated with the broadcasting of city governmental programming such as City
Council meetings.”

Did I read that right? Cause I don’t see anything about new seats, carpeting, or fancy wood paneling. Oh, I see – “equipment and capital costs…”  They keep it vague so it can be interpreted…

But apparently various government entities have been playing fast-and-loose with the interpreting:

From the National Review


Fearful of voter reaction to the growing pension squeeze on public services, some officials have tried to hide the problem, pretending to raise the money for other purposes. In late 2016, for example, San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit (BART) subway system sought voter approval to bond $3.5 billion in infrastructure improvements even though, as the East Bay Times later reported, the needed upgrade was already covered by an ongoing capital fund. More recently, departing New Jersey governor Christie Christie (R.) and General Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D.) agreed to address the state’s retirement deficit by making the lottery an asset of the pension fund — while ignoring that the loss of gaming revenue will create an equivalent shortfall in the state’s operating budget.

Go back to my first post about this – the news story on Ch 7 said the remodel would cost between $175,000 and $225,000, but the grant is for almost $350,000.

Do you think Chico voters are as smart as Sonoma County voters?

Such shell games are unlikely to succeed much longer. Voters in California’s Sonoma County defeated a recently proposed quarter-cent sales-tax increase for road repair because of widespread suspicions that the measure was really a bait-and-switch tactic to fund pensions.

If you’re sick of this stuff, e-mail the council through debbie.presson@chicoca.gov and tell them you are tired of paying for this kind of crap while the street in front of your house looks like a section of Downtown Tijuana.

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…”





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.