Tag Archives: Chico Taxpayers Association

Chico Taxpayers Association regular meeting this Sunday, November 3, Chico library, 9am

1 Nov

This Sunday November 3 we will have our regular Chico Taxpayers meeting, 9am, Chico library on Sherman Avenue.

I will bring my little computer and we’ll see if we can pick up the tape of the Tea Party meeting on the free wifi.  

I’d like to talk about the constitutional amendments that are still kicking around (ACA 3, SCA 4) in our state legislature, and hear what other people have been hearing around town. 

Looking forward to some productive chitter-chatter, see you there.

From Howard Jarvis Association: Bills that threaten homeowners, renters, and small businesses are moving through the legislature – contact your representatives NOW. And then do it again and again until they get the message.

24 Sep

The most important thing I learned at the CARD meeting last night was, there are constitutional amendments advancing through the state legislature that will lower the threshold of votes needed to RAISE YOUR TAXES for stuff other people want, like a fancy aquatic center for Aquajets.   Jerry Hughes, the former CARD director who called the meeting, said they will probably hold off efforts to get this bond they want on our property taxes until  they see how these amendments fare in the legislature.

Excuse me – I don’t know if I made this point when I posted this earlier – we don’t get to vote on these amendments – the Democrat-controlled legislature is expected to  pass them, making it will be easier for our local governments and districts like CARD  and CUSD to flop a bond or assessment on our homes. We have to CONTACT OUR LEGISLATORS.

I’ll post a separate report about that meeting last night, but I’d like to tell everybody now, this below is what’s important in Election 2014, and this will likely be the focus for the Chico Taxpayers Association.

Our next meeting, by the way, has been scheduled for the SECOND SUNDAY, Oct. 13, hope to see you there.

From Howard Jarvis Tax Association:

http://www.hjta.org/legislative/major-threats-proposition-13-and-homeowners

Bills That Threaten Homeowners and Small Businesses Are Starting to Move Through the Legislature!

The new Legislature is dominated by pro-tax politicians, and bills, that undermine the taxpayer protections in Proposition 13, have been introduced and are starting to be heard in committee. If approved, these bills could cost every property owner thousands of dollars.

On May 15th, six of these bills that directly undercut various provisions of Proposition 13 (SCA 3, 4, 7, 8, 9 and 11) were heard in the Senate Governance and Finance Committee. Despite strong testimony from HJTA these were approved on a party-line vote (Democrats in favor). The battle now shifts to the Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee. While the bills have not yet been set for a hearing, they could be taken up at any time. We will continue to alert you promptly regarding these and other threats to Proposition 13.

An additional two bills, Assembly Constitutional Amendments 3 and 8, also diminish Proposition 13’s protections. These have not been set for a hearing yet.

THE FOLLOWING BILLS PUT A BULL’S-EYE ON PROPOSITION 13 AND TAXPAYERS:

Senate Constitutional Amendment 3 (SCA 3), Mark Leno (D—San Francisco): Lowers the threshold for school district per-parcel property taxes from two-thirds to 55%. This is a direct assault on Proposition 13 because it makes it easier to increase property taxes above Proposition 13’s one percent cap.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 4 (SCA 4), Carol Liu (D—La Canada) andSenate Constitutional Amendment 8 (SCA 8), Ellen Corbett (D—San Leandro): Lowers the threshold for the imposition, extension or increase of local transportation special taxes from the Proposition 13-mandated two-thirds vote to 55%. Most transportation special tax increases consist of very regressive sales tax hikes. These add to the burden of California taxpayers who already pay the highest state sales tax in the nation.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 7 (SCA 7), Lois Wolk (D—Davis): Lowers the threshold from two-thirds to 55% in order to approve a bond to fund public library facilities. Lowering the threshold for school facilities to 55% has already resulted in billions of dollars of additional property tax payments that otherwise would not have been approved by voters.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 9 (SCA 9), Ellen Corbett (D—San Leandro): Lowers the threshold from two-thirds to 55% to increase special taxes to fund community and economic development projects.

Senate Constitutional Amendment 11 (SCA 11), Loni Hancock (D—Berkeley): Lowers the threshold to 55% to allow for voters representing ANY local government entity to approve a special tax for ANY purpose. This is far and away the broadest application, and thus the most egregious, of these constitutional amendments.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 3 (ACA 3), Nora Campos (D—San Jose): Lowers the threshold to 55% for voters within cities, counties and special districts to approve EITHER a local bond measure or a special tax in order to fund emergency service facilities projects including police and fire services.

Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8 (ACA 8), Bob Blumenfield (D—Woodland Hills): Lowers the threshold to 55% for city and county voters to approve a local bond measure in order to fund emergency service facilities projects.

City of Chico meeting schedule for week of August 26, 2013

25 Aug

Bidwell Park and Playground Commission, Monday August 26, 6:30 pm, City Chamber Bldg, Council Chamber:  The only item on this agenda is commissioner Richard Ober’s request to agendize a discussion about creating a “public/private non-profit partnership” between the city of Chico and the Caper Acres Volunteers. This is total news to me. The Caper Acres Volunteers Facebook has not been updated for almost a month, there’s nothing on it about the meeting they had at the end of July, and I have yet to hear any news about this handful of moms starting a legal non-profit. I will try to make this meeting, I haven’t attended one of these for years. 

Here’s that link:    http://www.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/bidwell_park_and_playground_commission/BPPC_Agendaandreports_13_0826.pdf

Finance Committee, Tuesday August 27, 8 – 10 am, City Chamber Bldg, Conf Rm 1: This meeting is chock full of interesting stuff – did you know the city takes in over a million dollars a year in Downtown parking revenues, and spends over $500,000 of it on salaries and benefits? Something tells me the fellows who service those parking meters are not taking in that kind of salary, I’m guessing, this is another fund that is being hit heavily for other than it’s intended purpose.  $taff is in fact requesting that this fund be opened up to all kinds of allowed expenditures, stuff that doesn’t have anything to do with securing you a parking space Downtown. 

Other items include a continuation of the user fee study, as well as the usual budget and finance department updates from Chris Constantin. If you can’t make the meeting, at least look over the agenda – over 100 pages, including a Downtown parking study and pages and pages of incriminating financial figures. 

Here’s that link:  http://www.chico.ca.us/document_library/minutes_agendas/finance_committee/8-27-13FinanceCommitteeAgendaPacket.pdf

Economic Development Committee, Wednesday August 28, 4 – 6 pm, City Chamber Bldg, Conf Rm 1:  THIS MEETING HAS BEEN ERRONEOUSLY POSTED AND NOTICED AS BEING SCHEDULED FOR TUESDAY THE 27TH.  Sean Tillman sent out a blast of e-mail corrections that loaded my mail box like a diaper, but has not corrected the notice on the website yet. I keep waiting for his name to disappear from the $taff roster, and I keep being disappointed.

I had been looking forward to this meeting, because at the last meeting I attended, Tillman excitedly promised the results of the shopper’s survey undertaken earlier this year by Tri-Counties Bank, sponsored in part with our tax dollars.  Audrey Taylor from city consultant Chabin Concepts even mentioned having some sort of exciting “event”,  “in August”. But I don’t see anything about that on this agenda. Instead they will be continuing the conversation about merging this committee with the underground “Mayor’s Business Advisory Council,” which operates without public oversight. I’ve asked to attend MBAC events and been refused by $taff, as well as Ann Schwab and Mark Sorensen. Only Ann would even tell me who else is in this secret committee – PG&E? So, I don’t know if this is a good move. I’ve heard, at last week’s council meeting, they’ve re-opened the conversation about hiring a new Economic Development Director, also behind closed doors. I’m sick of all this sneaky business with the Chico Chamber, DCBA, and various consultants who come around at Community Block Grant Funding time. This issue needs more sunshine. 

There will be a “report” from “Team Chico” – another behind closed doors effort between the City of Chico, Chico Chamber, Downtown Chico Business Association, 3CORE and the Alliance for Workforce Development and who knows what other “stakeholders”. Their meetings are not noticed to the public, Tillman reports whatever he feels the public needs to know. These reports are all full of rainbows and lollipops, nothing substantial.  But, city money, in the form of Tillman’s salary and benefits, is being spent on these consultants, many of whom also get CBGF money. I read the slick report included in the agenda, and some of the information is no longer correct (Hwy 32 widening was KO’d the other night), a lot of it is just soap bubbles. 

Here’s that link:   http://www.chico.ca.us/government/minutes_agendas/documents/8-27-13EDCommitteeAgendaPacket.pdf

I wish more people would take time to attend these meetings, just once. I hate to think people just like to sit around complaining but doing nothing! 

Chico Taxpayers will meet next Sunday despite Labor Day

25 Aug

I got  the heads up that our next First Sunday meeting falls on Labor Day weekend, but I’m forging full steam ahead anyway. I like consistency. What better way to spend an hour or so of your Labor Day weekend? You like sitting on the highway with the other lemmings? You like driving hours into the “wilderness” only to find 800 people vying for two parking spaces and a picnic table? I’ll be down at the library, enjoying what may well be the last peace and quiet of 2013. 

Next Sunday I’ll bring in some pages of city employee contracts I’ve printed out, and if anybody else shows up, we’ll redline some stuff that needs to get cut. What fun! I want to get these details out to the public, so it would be great if we could make some points to write in letters to the editor.

If we can get Stephanie Taber to come in, maybe we can get her to give us a report on meetings she’s attended over the past month. I’ll drop her a line and ask her about that. She covers not only the city meetings, but the Chamber of Commerce meetings. Last month she was present for a conversation with Brian Nakamura – usually only members are allowed in these meetings, or, like their “Business Crawl,” non-members are  charged a lot to get in.  I’ve got Katie Simmons to let me in by reminding her how inappropriate it is for the city manager to be talking to an “exclusive membership” audience, but was not able to attend last month. Stephanie reported that Nakamura discussed out-sourcing the fire department, and wow, what do you know – all the sudden interim chief Keith Carter comes up with a brilliant new rotating station plan that cuts fire department overtime! Wow! 

What bugs me is Nakamura is having these conversations without the public. I’ve also heard they’re again planning to hire an Economic Development Director – what? with the money they are “saving” by shuttering up our park? 

It’s time to pay attention. We need folks to attend these meetings. I’ll try to keep a meeting schedule for the week ahead posted here, but it’s tough – maybe I’ll post a list of all the damned chores I have ahead of me today, not to mention, some kind of plan for dinner! 

I hope some of you can make it next Sunday, I’ll be there, testing out the free wi-fi. 

Hit me, beat me, make me read the employee contracts.

1 Aug

We have our regular Sunday meeting coming up this weekend, and I’m trying to get some stuff together for a good conversation about the employee contracts. The contracts are all up in December, so we need to start talking about them now. Council will be discussing the following contracts at next Tuesday’s meeting:

2.3.

CONFERENCE WITH LABOR NEGOTIATOR (Gov. Code Sec. 54957.6.) Negotiator:  Brian Nakamura, City Manager Employee Organizations:  Management Employees, Confidentials, Public Safety Management Employees, Chico Police Officers’ Association, Chico Public Safety Association, International Association of Firefighters, Service Employees International Union (Trades and Crafts Unit), Chico Employee Association, WPEA/Local 39

They should be posting information for us as the talks continue, but I’ll bet we’ll have to bitch for it.  The current contracts are available on the city website, on the Human Resources and Risk page, under “Labor Contracts”, here’s the link:

http://www.chico.ca.us/human_resources_and_risk_management/labor_agreements_home.asp

I’ll tell you right off the top – they’re HORRIBLE to read. No lie, they really suck. “Whereas City and CPOA have memorialized their agreement regarding matters within the scope of their representation…” 60 pages, the first 10 of which include title pages, table of contents, and definitions. Then stuff like The CPOA Time Bank – “The CPOA Time Bank is established for use by CPOA employees for the sole purpose of performing or conducting CPOA business without loss of pay…” Wait a minute – what? 

Here’s what’s worse from my standpoint – $taff loads documents in such a way that I cannot cut and paste.  Instead of giving a link and hoping people wade through all that SHIT, I want to take out bits and snatches of interest to discuss here and at our meeting Sunday, but that means, I have to open both screens and go back and forth and type it. That just makes me so mad – my time is worth something, and I just get so frustrated sitting at the computer doing stupid stuff like that. But, I can’t think of any other way to get people to pay attention than to put the outrageous words right in front of their  faces.

I’ve always wrestled with the concept of  “CTO” and “STO”. CTO is “Compensatory Time Off in Lieu of Overtime Payment“, STO is “Selective Time Off in Lieu of Overtime Payment“.  This is an exercise in accounting.  “CTO shall be accrued at a rate of one and a half hours for every hour of overtime worked.” So, they can choose to take an hour and a half of time off for every hour of overtime worked.  Sounds fair, and good for the city, right? But something sounds weird about “Payment for unused CTO …Employees may request payment for a maximum of forty (40) hours of unused CTO…The maximum amount of CTO that may be accrued and utilized at any time shall be limited to 200 hours. Employees may choose to leave CTO in place into the following calendar year. Payment for such hours will be made at the Regular Pay in effect at the time.”  

Then, “Selective Time Off” – Employees who work overtime “may accrue Selective Time Off in lieu of overtime or CTO…STO will be accrued at the rate of two hours for every hour of overtime worked.”  When an employee doesn’t use that STO? They can have it converted to CTO and get paid for it. But here’s what’s changed – they used to get paid for TWO HOURS when they’d only worked one. Even though they were paid at the regular rate instead of overtime, they still ended up with an extra half hour of pay. That sounds petty, but it really adds up. Now the formula says, “Number of STO hours divided by 2, multiplied by 1.5, equals CTO hours”. In other words, they’re getting paid for the hour they actually logged, at overtime, which seems fair to me if indeed it was an overtime hour in the first place. 

My concern is, they can roll these hours over, year after year, through pay increases, and end up getting paid a higher salary for hours worked years previous. I don’t know if it actually works that way, you read it and let me know. All I know is, these guys as much as double their base salaries with overtime, “other pay” and “special pay” and it’s all here in these contracts for any dummass who wants to read it.

Me, I fell asleep while typing and accidentally closed the contract page at least twice. My family has gone out to clean the garage because I kept reading snippets aloud and asking “does that make sense to you?” or “is this crazy or what?”

I’m going out to clean the garage. 

City Manager Brian Nakamura has agreed to come down to our July 7 meeting to discuss the budget.

12 Jun

I didn’t get to attend last week’s “Budget 101” session with Chico Chamber and city staff, but I found Ashley Gebb’s write up pretty interesting. 

I really can’t wait to hear just what Jovanni Triceri wants citizens to “stand up” and do!

Gebb doesn’t identify the person who asked about sales tax, but Brian Nakamura’s answer doesn’t give me any comfort. ““We have to live within our means first.”  First, he says. Before what? 

While I was happy to hear Nakamura and his assistant Orme recently refuse the cops’ pay raise proposal, I’m still worried. They seem to be asking the employees to make little gestures, to improve ” the public’s  perception of public employees.” So what? So we’ll approve a sales tax increase? 

We will have to ask Brian Nakamura about that – he will be coming in to our next First Sunday meeting to discuss this and other city issues. We’re looking forward to a good discussion, hope you can make it. 

 

 

 

Budget 101′ forum details city finances to Chico citizens

By ASHLEY GEBB-Staff Writer

Posted:   06/10/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT

CHICO — With questions about solving the city’s financial problems through a tax or aid of businesses, citizens took a course in “Budget 101” Friday from city officials.About 80 people gathered in the City Council Chambers to hear about how the city budget works, how millions of dollars in deficits accumulated and what will happen unless immediate action is taken.

Two days earlier, the city issued 53 layoff notices to employees in every city department as it attempts to close a $4.8 million general fund gap.

“People just really aren’t clear at what the challenges are, why they are impacting us now and where we go from here,” said Katie Simmons of the Chico Chamber of Commerce.

She helped organize the forum in hopes it would provide transparency, answer community questions and give city staff an opportunity to clarify some “gray areas,” she said.

In recent weeks, she has heard numerous questions from business owners and residents, many wanting real answers to rumors about what the impacts will be and what can be done. “Knowledge is power,” Simmons said.

After an hour-long presentation, several residents had questions. Some asked about where certain funding sources come from, what unfunded liabilities exist, and the potential of getting more help from the corporate community.

Jovanni Tricerri of the Chico Stewardship Network answered the latter question. “This is an opportunity for the citizens to stand up,” he said. “Citizens partnering with the

institution. Let’s find these solutions together. We are going to have to push citizens to take a bigger role in the governance of the city.”A final question inquired about the viability of implementing a tax to offset cuts.

“I’m not sure we have the trust to assure the public money will be spent as intended,” said City Manager Brian Nakamura. “We have to live within our means first.”

The City Council will have an all-day budget study session starting at 8:30 a.m. June 18 in the Council Chambers.

Chico Taxpayers Association meets tomorrow, Sunday May 5, Chico Library on Sherman Ave, 9am

4 May

I hope we can get a good discussion going on the local efforts to raise taxes, all inspired by CalPERS recent demands for “side fund payoffs” of pension premiums.

What CalPERS is after, is money to keep their pension payments flowing, so people like Tom Lando don’t sue them. And then there’s the CalPERS salaries – about a dozen top execs, making between $350 – 500,000 a year, plus, yeah, FULL BENEFITS!

How stupid are we? Let’s talk about that – tomorrow, Chico branch library, 9am.  The public is welcome.