Tag Archives: city of Chico sales tax increase

Will 2018 finally be the year the public rises up and throws off the tax pigs?

5 Feb

Busy little bees.

How many agencies in Chico are planning to put revenue measures on the general ballot, or mailed assessment ballots? So far we’ve got Chico Chamber of Commerce/Tom Lando stumping for a sales tax increase as high as 3/4 of a cent. Then there’s Chico Area Recreation District – I haven’t found out yet whether they will put their measure on the general ballot or mail ballots to property owners. And of course, as I predicted with the passage of Measure K in 2016, Chico Unified School District has again been discussing a revenue measure.

And then there’s the shadowy “Everybody Healthy Body” group that is trying to raise money to purchase a giant property just south of the Chico City Limits, for a sports complex. So far they’ve only raised $2 million through private donors, but they keep saying they aren’t going to ask for public money. 

If you believe that I got a burn dump I’d like to sell you.

Remember, these junkies can never get enough. Within months of the passage of bond Measure K in November 2016, CUSD finance manager Kevin Bultema told me “The increase PERS and STRS costs are certainly a challenge for the district’s operations budget and will need to be addressed with either increased revenues from the state or cuts in CUSD’s program expenditures in the future.”

And how has the school board responded to the pension crisis? From the Enterprise Record, June 2017;

“The board also voted to ratify a tentative agreement with the Chico Unified Teachers Association. That agreement will collapse the salary schedule, reducing the years of service necessary for a teacher to reach their maximum salary. The new salary schedule is more competitive compared to other districts and will allow Chico Unified to attract more teachers, Assistant Superintendent of Human Resources Jim Hanlon said.”

Oh good, the teachers get more money, which raises the cost of their pension. Get ready for the hand to come out.

Both the city and CARD have also continued to hand out raises to staff. When will these pigs ever have enough?

So, we’re gassing up the old buggy and getting ready to oppose this stuff.  Helllllllooooooo?

 

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Clean and Safe starting a sales tax increase campaign?

15 Apr

Happy April 15 Taxpayers!

Do you know that you are paying for the use of City Plaza every Tuesday from 11 am to 1 pm? Have you been down there to enjoy your tax dollars at work?

Clean and Safe, an organization spawned out of the Downtown Business Association and the Chico Chamber, holds a “picnic in the plaza” every Tuesday from 11 – 1. They bring in various local food trucks and commercial vendors for “some fundraising and educational elements for the Downtown Chico Clean & Safe Campaign as well as the City of Chico Parks Division.”

I guess a lot of people would say that’s okay, but I’m saying, this is the beginning of a sales tax increase campaign.

This morning I looked at the city website to see if “Clean and Safe” has registered as a PAC – nothing yet. I’m guessing the clerk would not put it up right away, she’s woefully behind in her job. When I checked the county website, the page was down – the county website is unreliable, poorly run. As usual, I had to send a note to Elections and cc Candace Grubbs and Maureen Kirk, I’ll see what I get back.

I have heard from friends that Clean and Safe is advocating a sales tax increase “for public safety.” We’ll see how long they run it under the radar. Right now they are enjoying free use of City Plaza – here’s the rate schedule:

http://www.chico.ca.us/government/documents/Schedule80-All.pdf

First you pay the reservation fee – based on expected attendance – $11 per 100 people – minimum $150. If you are going to have more than 100 attendees, you also have to purchase liability insurance. There are two damage deposits  – $180 for an “intensive  use area” – I’m guessing the Plaza is considered “intensive use”. For more than 200 people attending a Plaza event, there is a $95 restroom fee.

Only $100 of that damage deposit is refundable, and that’s up to the Parks Division. So, for a “partial day” event of 4 hours or less, with folks allowed to roam freely within the perimeter whether or not they attend or contribute to your event, would cost you a minimum of $345.

A park employee told me this was decided at a Bidwell Parks and Playground commission meeting. Let me remind all of us – we don’t elect the park commissioners, these are spoils positions.

What’s a little budget appropriation between friends? Time to “clean up” the budget!

3 Oct
4.4.
CONSIDERATION OF A SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATION/BUDGET MODIFICATION FY 13/14 The Supplemental Appropriation/Budget Modification addresses budgetary adjustments necessary for “clean up” of budget vs. actual expenditures in Fiscal Year 2013-14. (Report – Frank Fields, Accounting Manager)Recommendation : The Administrative Services Department recommends approval of Supplemental Appropriation/Budget Modification No. 2014-ASD-016.

 

I can’t post the report, because Debbie Presson loads the reports in such a way as they can’t be cut-and-paste, even though she promised she wouldn’t do that anymore. You can look at it here, if you can make heads or tails of the Suit Speak, get back to me.

http://chico-ca.granicus.com/MetaViewer.php?view_id=2&event_id=89&meta_id=41862

But a cursory reading says they want over $32,000 extra,  for  “salaries and benefits…expenditures exceeding revenues…bloat, fart, burp…”

 

 

We need to educate the Siobhan O’Neil’s of our town – Chico doesn’t have a revenue problem, Chico has a SPENDING PROBLEM!

20 Jul

Well, the ER ran another propaganda piece for this city this morning – “Chicoans starting to feel impacts of reduced services…” Really? And how many “Chicoans” did you bother to poll on that?

The talked to a couple of women in Bidwell Park, one of whom, a publicly-paid child services worker, decided to take a smack at the defeat of Measure J.  She says, they’re closing the park because we defeated Measure J. 

“The sisters don’t understand why the city had to lock the gates on the pool’s north side. Both wondered about parking impacts in the surrounding neighborhoods and the hazards for families and children in having to cross the street.

O’Neil said she sees a direct correlation between the park closures and Measure J, a cellphone tax voters shot down during the November election. She had voted in its support.

‘You get what you pay for and what you don’t pay for,” she said. “For pennies a month, we gave up a source of revenue to help with services in an economy that’s still struggling.'”

I love that – “You get what you pay for…” Here’s a woman who admittedly doesn’t “understand why the city had to lock the gates “. What would you expect from a person who’s paycheck comes from tax money?

So, I called and left her a message on her publicly-paid voice mail, inviting her to the next First Sunday meeting of Chico Taxpayers. This is the kind of person we want to engage, the people who believe whatever their friends  tell them, their other publicly-paid friends. I wonder how many people this woman knows, outside her immediate family, who don’t have their snout in the trough? 

This is it Folks. You have seen the enemy, and it is IGNORANCE. 

I’ll be at the park today, handing out these:

park flier

Feel free to print them out and hand them around yourselves, we have to get this information out there. 

Chicoans starting to feel impacts of reduced services

By ASHLEY GEBB-Staff Writer

POSTED:   07/20/2013 12:00:00 AM PDT

CHICO — When tree limbs fall in the city of Chico, little can be done these days other than to drag them out of the way and hope they will be picked up soon.

People are tugging on the locked doors of bathrooms in Bidwell Park and find locked gates blocking access to the north side of the Sycamore Pool parking lot.

On Fridays, residents still approach the finance counter at City Hall to pay parking tickets, dog licenses or business licenses only to be told the office is now closed on Fridays.

It’s been two weeks since layoffs were finalized for dozens of city employees, including the entire tree crew, half the park staff, and more than 20 administrative positions.

No departments were spared from budget reductions as the city closed a $4.8 million budget gap, and citizens and city employees continue to realize the impacts of related service reductions.

“I’m trying to stay positive and do the best I can,” said street trees field supervisor Dave Bettencourt. “Public safety is paramount right now. We’ll make it work.”

He’s now doing the tasks of the now-retired urban forest manager, his job and the work of the former four-man crew. Response time for some calls is now triple, Bettencourt said.

When a report is made of fallen branches, he’ll go cut them up, pile them and add it to a list to be picked up about once a week. They used to be picked up the day they fell, he noted. For larger limbs or trees, like the one that fell across Vallombrosa on Thursday night, the city is finalizing an emergency contractor for 24/7 response.

It’s also working on a pruning contract, as growing trees start to obstruct stop signs and lines of sight, Bettencourt said. Summer is also usually when the city does its pruning in school areas, the downtown business area and around the college, but it’s all on hold.

When possible, Bettencourt piecemeals together help from other departments, including park staff, traffic signals and public works. “We are still going to need to maintain,” he said. “We are doing the best we can with what we have.”

He got a phone call recently from the Downtown Chico Business Association, asking what would happen to the decorating of the City Plaza tree at Christmas, a service normally done by the tree crew. “She said, ‘Should I be concerned?'” Bettencourt said. “I said, ‘I don’t know.'”

Some residents are also wondering what the impacts will be months from now, as park closures continue.

“What kind of degradation will happen in six months?” asked Siobhan O’Neil as she walked through the park with her sister Caitie Giusta on Thursday.

“It’s embarrassing,” Giusta said of the closure, noting the park is nationally recognized in travel guides and a major Chico attraction. “Here we have this jewel, and we are shut down 60 percent of the week.”

The sisters don’t understand why the city had to lock the gates on the pool’s north side. Both wondered about parking impacts in the surrounding neighborhoods and the hazards for families and children in having to cross the street.

O’Neil said she sees a direct correlation between the park closures and Measure J, a cellphone tax voters shot down during the November election. She had voted in its support.

“You get what you pay for and what you don’t pay for,” she said. “For pennies a month, we gave up a source of revenue to help with services in an economy that’s still struggling.”

Chico resident Bill Korte cycles through lower Bidwell Park almost daily. After finding the locked bathroom door Wednesday and reading the sign, he acknowledged he is used to not having the amenity because the bathroom is new but he still wishes it was open. “It’s a convenient pit stop for me,” he said.

The parking changes and the bathroom closures are what frustrate resident Cindy Ennes, she said Thursday as she finished her morning stroll.

“Because we are old and we often stop on that 3-mile loop,” she said with a laugh.

Turning serious, she said she’s noticed a significant decline in park patrons since the closures took effect. It saddens her to think the impacts are driving people away.

“I can’t believe what they are saving isn’t lost in the community’s enjoyment of the park,” she said. “I really feel like the city is doing this to punish its citizens.”

Councilor Sean Morgan said everyone has a difference of opinion about what the city’s priorities should be as it faces necessary cuts.

“Branches aren’t getting picked up as quickly … and Caper Acres isn’t open as many days as it once was and the park isn’t as clean as it was, and those are all bad things,” Morgan said. “But so is losing police officers, which is probably more important.”

“From a policy standpoint I have to do what is most important to the city and that is, are the citizens safe?”

The Police Department was slated to eliminate 19 positions as a result of budget cuts, though two community service officer positions were retained.

The City Council also has asked staff to find ways to restore more officer positions.

 

Reach Ashley Gebb at 896-7768, agebb@chicoer.com, or on Twitter @AshleyGebb.

We’ll have to hit the ground running

26 Oct

I’ve reserved the meeting room at the Chico library for our First Sunday meeting, November 4,  9am. I hope that’s good for everybody, let me know, I can change the time.

That of course, is only days before the election, a little too late for any strategizing on Measure J.  What I’d really like to talk about is what we’ll do after the election. I got a couple of ideas I been kicking back and forth with the fence post.

Of course, I believe our first true concern is a sales tax increase. I would bet my last five dollars that whether or not Prop 30 or Measure J pass, Tom Lando will bring forward his sales tax increase measure. He will either say, Prop 30 lost and we need the money, or Prop 30 won but we can’t trust Brown to share the proceeds from 30.  He’ll say, whether it wins or loses, that Measure J was already being spent, which is true. The city has been collecting the phone tax illegally, mainly through stooges AT&T, for years, and stands to lose millions in ill-gotten gain. Sheesh – they may even be afraid we’ll sue them for those illegal takings, like the folks of the  city of Chula Vista!

http://www.caseygerry.com/news/class-certified-chula-vista-tax-lawsuit

I honestly believe Tom Lando fully intends to ask for a special election in Spring 2013 to put a sales tax increase measure before the voters, and we need to start thinking about a serious “organized” campaign against it.

Secondly, I heard a good idea from the city of Hemet, which recently unloaded their ex-city manager on us – Brian Nakamura. Sure, they made it look like they were being ripped off, but I say, they hoodwinked us into taking the guy. Ever read “Ransom of Red Chief”?

Yeah, those Hemetians are pretty damned smart.  Two years ago, they passed some very interesting legislation in their little town, read here –

http://www.pe.com/local-news/riverside-county/hemet/hemet-headlines-index/20101026-hemet-campaign-spending-increases.ece

Here are the ballotpedia pages for Measures W and X – both passed with OVER 80 PERCENT OF THE VOTE. Measure W limits terms for city elected officials, and Measure X cuts them off from city-paid  health benefits.

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Hemet_Term_Limits,_Measure_W_(November_2010)

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Hemet_Prohibition_on_Contributing_to_Cost_of_Healthcare,_Measure_X_(November_2010)

You will note, the Hemet Taxpayers’ Association put some money into these issues. We must decide, do we want to start raising and spending money?

I hope to see the usual suspects on November 4, at the library, 9am, along with some fresh newbies, willing to put their shoulder to the wheel to turn our city around.

Marysville council rejects sales tax ploy by retiring city administrator – where’s Chico’s knight in shining armor?

11 Jul

I am not a member of the Chico Chamber of Commerce, but I check in to their website regularly to see what they’re up to.  Sometimes I believe, they are the real Chico City Council. While our elected leaders frolic and cavort in  their stupid committee meetings, the Chamber is working on a “Top 10 Economic Development Action List”. 

Yeah, sounds great, until you consider, one of their “Top 10” is a proposal to raise the local sales tax.

One prominent member of the Chamber who might be able to fill us in on the discussion is Bob Evans. I’ve asked Bob where he stands on this tax increase, but he just keeps saying he hasn’t seen a proposal yet. Lately I have asked him if he would require Lando and the other sales tax increase proponents to get the legal number of signatures on a petition before he votes to put this proposal on the ballot, but he won’t answer me. His downright refusal to discuss the tax increase is frustrating to me – I want to believe Bob is a “fiscal conservative.” After all, he had some high and mighty things to say about his opposition to the phone tax. But, he knew the phone tax didn’t need his support to get on the ballot. It’s easy to posture as the good guy when you know others will achieve the end result you really want. Evans’ resistance to making a pledge against a sales tax increase is screaming in my ear like a fire alarm. 

In Marysville, Mayor Bill Harris had no trouble making himself clear when his city mangler proposed a half-cent sales tax increase: “This will be viewed as the City Council coming to them wanting more money again.”

Well, the article mentioned, the city mangler is retiring, so I would also see it as his way of securing his f-ing pension, but nobody mentions that. 

City councilwoman Christina Billeci echoed a sentiment I’ve been hearing increasingly in Chico –  “We need to balance the budget with the revenues we have,” she said.

Other council members cited lack of support from citizens, including one councillor who claimed to have got “angry reactions” to the proposal. One council member said he might have supported the move before the June election, “But the cigarette tax was voted down, and that should have been a slam dunk,” he said. “I would see this as a waste of effort and money.”

The only council member who supported the notion, Head Start administrator Ricky Samayoa, made some pretty disparaging remarks about the town. 

“There’s a lot of people that know there’s a lack of resources here for us to have a proper city and manage it,” he said. Oooo! A “proper city”! What a bitch!  Does he have letters from constituents to support  this statement, or is he just using “a lot of people” to describe himself and his co-workers? Not enough drive through coffee stands for you Ricky? Not enough 5 Star restaurants or pink boutiques? Sorry, we’ve never been ones for putting on the Ritz here in the North State, better get in your zip car and drive back to the Bay Area. 

In the Enterprise Record story, Samoyoa further claimed that “continued cuts to maintenance and other aspects of the city’s budget hurt chances for an economic recovery.”  I imagine Marysville has the same problem Chico has – too many $100,000+ salaries and not enough $20,000 – $50,000 workers. While he’s sitting down there under the air conditioner vent at Head Start in a fresh shirt and manicure, the streets are going unmaintained, the classrooms overcrowded, the police and fire  departments underfunded – is that the problem Mr. Samayoa? 

“The way we’re continuing to go, it’s just going to be a dying city, even if the economy picks up,” he said. Now, that statement doesn’t even make sense. This is a typical example of scare tactics. “The way we’re continuing to go…” You mean, paying $100,000+ salaries to fat bureaucrats, while cutting services to the public? Somehow I don’t think that’s what he’s talking about.  ” …it’s just going to be a dying city…”  Wow, what an idiot – obviously no knowledge of local history. Marysville has been through so many booms and busts, it ought to be called “Bouncyville.” If you get to know Marysville, you see it has everything needed to be a wonderful place to live, in good times and bad, regardless of carpetbaggers like Samayoa.

“Give folks the opportunity to have this debate,” Mr. Samayoa suggests. Sounds like the rhetoric coming from Andy Holcombe and the rest of the sales tax increase proponents. Hey, that’s a swell idea! People should talk about these things, hash them out. And then, if enough of them sign a petition to put such a proposal on a legal ballot, well, they can VOTE on it! But that costs alot of money – best for those who really believe in this cockamamie idea to get the petition first, show the need to spend all that money on an election. That’s what rational people would do, anyway. 

But if you ask Holcombe to discuss the pending proposal, he denies there is any such thing.  The only member of Chico City Council who is willing to discuss this proposal at all has been Mark Sorensen – thanks Mark. At least Mark has been good enough to answer our questions about the mechanics of such a proposal and getting it onto the ballot. Evans and Holcombe have both denied knowing anything about it, although Holcombe has made it good and clear he’d support raising the sales tax and Evans has been seen at Chamber discussions on the matter. The others have been mum to the public, but I’m guessing they will support it. Holcombe, Schwab, Goloff, Walker, Gruendl – and Evans? – are all banking on more revenues to rescue the city from the Shit Creek they’ve floated us up.   Evans, while he will admit we’re in deep shit, will not offer so much as a suggestion of a paddle. He seems to be holding back until after he gets himself safely re-elected in November. Then he’s got a year to get that sales tax voted in and three years to make the public forget he had anything to do with it. 

Well Bob, is that what you’re up to?

I’ll say, if he were at least honest, I might be able to hold my nose and support him, but this game he’s playing is a real turn-off.