Tag Archives: Chico Sewer 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

Insubordination Downtown – whattya gonna do? Call Ghostbusters?

4 Feb

I asked all of you to contact your council representative and ask about the trash tax and so I did same. I wrote to the city clerk Debbie Presson and asked her how to agendize a discussion for an upcoming meeting. I got no response. So I waited a week or so and wrote to clerk Dani Rogers – she responded with this –

The citizen request has to be sponsored by a Councilmember.  The Councilmember would bring the request forward.  You can email the full Council and see if one takes up the issue, or you can work with your district Councilmember to try to get them take it up. You can also address the Council from Business From the Floor and ask that they take up the item on a future agenda.”

I won’t waste my time contacting any members of council, they don’t respond. I’d rather go to the meeting and take it up from the Floor – at least then it’s on the record. But you know, that means going Downtown at night. I don’t mind admitting, I don’t go Downtown at all anymore, certainly not at night. I’ll have to think about it.

I sure miss Kelly Meagher, he used to make the meetings worth attending. I’ll never forget the night he got into an argument with Dan Herbert – back in the days when there was a real back-and-forth exchange between council members and citizens. Some people would say Kelly liked to tie one on before a meeting – who cares, he was magnificent. Dan kept coming at Kelly with the city line, and Kelly just kept coming right back at him. It got so Dan couldn’t get a word in, Kelly just kept ramming him down. Finally Kelly ran out of breath. Dan sat on the dais with a tired grin, as usual, the meeting had gone on too long. Kelly stood at the podium waiting for an answer, Dan just shook his head and laughed – Dan could be a real good natured guy sometimes. Finally he said, “Kelly, you’ve interrupted me so many times, I can’t remember what I was going to say…” Everybody laughed and the meeting went on.

Mark Sorensen, former council member and current city manager, has put an end to that type of back-and-forth conversation at meetings, he’s put an end to public input, he’s closed meetings as much as possible. He got a lawyer to tell council they don’t have to respond to their constituents anymore unless those constituents agree with them, or yeah – gave them some big bucks at election time. This is mutiny on the Bounty as far as I’m concerned, pure, willful insubordination. They think we won’t fight, maybe they’re right.

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.

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.

Sewer rate increase hearing set for Tuesday (1/17/23) – if you haven’t mailed your protest get it in soon or attend the hearing

12 Jan

My husband and I sent our sewer protest vote by mail the other day – at this point, if you have not mailed yours, I’d recommend delivering it to the city clerk in her office, or attend the hearing next Tuesday, 6pm, City Hall.

Here’s what’s important to remember – you don’t have to convince council of anything – you get to VOTE on this. Each parcel is worth one vote, and 51% is all it takes to stop this tax. Tell your neighbors – this is a permanent tax, allowing for an annual increase without any further notice or hearings.ew

51% was all it took to shove a full cent sales tax measure up our collective patoot, let’s turn that back on them.

All Cal Water customers in the city should have received notice and are eligible to vote. If you can’t find your notice, contact me here. All you need to do is write your name and address on a piece of paper, with “I protest the City of Chico’s proposed changes to the sewer rate charge”.

Yes, the city of Chico, under Mayor Andrew Coolidge, plays dirty and low. It was Coolidge’s idea to try to get a Pension Obligation Bond without putting it on a ballot, and Morgan, Reynolds, and Tandon went with him on it. But their dirty tricks are no excuse for a lazy public – get off your ass now, or every time you sit on your toilet you’re going to pay more.

Getting ready for 2023 in Chico California

21 Dec

Well, a Happy Winter to all of you. For me, the new year starts with Winter Solstice, because that’s when the days start getting longer, and sheesh we all miss the sun (don’t tell her that, she’ll just get a big head and cook our ass off next summer).

My husband and I got our holiday ahead of time – we skinnied in a trip to Oregon after the Thanksgiving rush was over and before the Christmas rush began. We took our Newsom Bonus Bucks (the gas rebate we actually got from the oil companies) and spent the whole wad. Boy did we have fun.

I love California, it’s my home. But here’s some things I like about Oregon.

No sales tax and cheaper prices. Of course the property taxes are outrageous, and they have a “luxury” tax on cars. So I won’t buy a house or a car there. But let me tell you another thing I observed – every town on the freeway has a very lively retail sector, many businesses, small and large, doing very well. And here’s another thing – they have the same chains, but there’s more selection, and oftentimes cheaper prices. I’ve just about given up on Chico retail – poor selection, high prices, crime in the stores and in the parking lots.

I’d say, Oregonians are not only friendly, they are more business friendly, and that’s why they have huge corporations like Nike and Columbia. They don’t just bring many, good paying jobs, but those businesses are grateful in many other ways. We stayed near the Nike “campus”, and all around there we enjoyed hiking/biking trails through beautiful parks and clean, gorgeous waterways, Nike having paid for much of it. In the middle of the park, they’d built a huge recreation complex, a gym, a huge aquatic center, indoor tennis courts, it was incredible. We watched families of all backgrounds, dropping their kids off in expensive sedans and total crapper work trucks. All around, banners announced this or that kids’ program. We need to attract the kind of businesses that add to our community – but we get pot dispensaries, smoke shops and liquor stores/manufacturers, because they produce a lot of sales tax. Maybe CARD should ask that LA dispensary to sponsor their new aquatic center, already having the support of a major alcohol distributor.

Most towns we visited on I-5 do have a runaway transient problem, but here’s what they do in Portland – they have a big, laminated ID on a lanyard, worn by those who have had any kind of “run-in” with police. They have to wear the lanyard with their ID on it, for all to see that his person has been “contacted” by police. If they enter a business and won’t leave they are arrested, instead of “counseled and moved along”. When a guy entered the sandwich shop in which we were eating and walked up to a table to panhandle, the owner immediately told him to get out or get arrested – and he turned on a dime and walked out. I’d like to see more of that in Chico. Instead, we have people on BCFAC who’ve been arrested like 40 times for the same and worsening offenses.

Here’s an interesting story about what one citizen in Oregon did when confronted with a worsening theft problem at his business –


That’s another thing I like about Oregon – the true Oregonians, who fight for their state, their families, and their way of life. But, like Dale Arden, I’m a California girl, so instead of limp-dick outta here, I’m going to stay and bitch at the rest of you to BUCK THE HELL UP! I just saw the returns for Measure H, and I am as disgusted with those of you registered voters who didn’t vote as I am disgusted with you voters who voted Yes without asking the pointy questions. I hold you all as responsible for the deepening mire as any local elected official. You get a big lump of coal in your stocking this year – and you made it yourself.

But here’s what I’ll say to council members – you passed a tax measure by the skin of it’s teeth, with less than 53% of the voters showing any confidence in your handling of money. You better get your asses in gear and get some streets fixed and the park returned to “normal” ASAP, because Morgan and Coolidge and Tandon the lip-syncer are all up in 2024. Winslow won this time, and both Kennedy and McDaniels made pretty good swipes at their competitors. The new districts make it a lot easier for a new person to win – in fact, a person can move into the district less than a month ahead of the election. Council majorities have flipped more times than Butte Creek has jumped it’s banks, so you better start listening to your constituents or get ready for Koyaanisquatsi in 2024.