Tag Archives: City of Chico Utility Tax

Snidely Whiplash in “PG&E rate increase – let’s foil it again!”

26 Sep

Still growling over PG&E’s pending rate increase proposal, I got a nice note from City Council  candidate Forough Molina today. I had sent out a note to city council candidates as well as sitting councilors, and county supervisors, asking for their help in publicizing and maybe strategizing for  CPUC hearings scheduled October 9, 2 and 6:30 pm.

So far I’ve only had responses from District 3 Super Maureen Kirk, candidate Rodney Willis, and today candidate Molina. Kirk and Willis were interested in hearing what others had to say, and I’ll try to keep them in the conversation. Molina expressed her frustration as a ratepayer, echoing everyone else’s complaint – we are all so busy with our jobs, kids, etc, how do we stay on top of this stuff?

Ditto here. I tried to get a meeting together, but found the library room is very booked, they didn’t have any openings that fit my schedule. So here we are, at our virtual meeting place. Let’s get our bananas together for that hearing.

We can rant, we can rave – they like that, it’s easier to write us off as idiots. I was reading a letter to the Board of Supervisors from Cal Water rep Pete Bonacich, in which he totally downplays the recent Cal Water rate hike. “...the typical customer using an average of 14,960 gallons of water per month (20 Ccf) will see water utility charges of $40.94 in 2014…  The “typical” customer? Who is the “typical” customer?

I realized when I read that letter – we should have all done the math, taken our bills and figured out exactly what the Cal Water rate increase would mean to us, and then,  with a full head of steam, really let our elected officials, as well as our CPUC officials, know a little more vividly how we felt about  that. I find, I never really get mad-mad, until I have the numbers waved in my face.  Bitch-slap me with a utility bill, and I’m raring to go to a hearing.

So, there’s your homework assignment Kids, I’ll work on my bills too, we’ll do some scenarios for our PG&E rate hike, and see what we come up with. 

Ha, ha – joke’s on me – I notice in my new bill for period 8/20/2014 through 9/18/2014, they’ve changed the rates! Damn that Snidely Whiplash, we got to foil his next caper, before he has us all so corn-fused, we don’t know which end of the hose the pie is coming out of.

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We need to remind Jennifer Hennessy and Ann Schwab to get cracking on getting that phone tax off our bills

12 Nov

I’m still poking Measure J with a stick. It lays there as if dead, but we’ll see.   Not that I’m so worried about those 14,000 uncounted ballots, but, will the city stop taking the tax now that we’ve sent it to the boneyard?

And according to an article in the Enterprise Record the other day, “it’s unclear what the city’s next step will be.” Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy says the city will “likely have to proactively inform” the phone companies they no longer need to collect the tax. Well, let’s write those letters folks – that’s jhenness@ci.chico.ca.us  – no, that’s not a typo, that is her correct city of Chico contact.  Remind Ms. Hennessy she needs to contact those phone companies NOW. Tell her you’d like to get copies of those notices. 

And, ask her for a list of those companies that DO collect the tax – as far as I know, it’s only AT&T, even though the ER article says there’s only one carrier that doesn’t collect. 

In Chula Vista, ratepayers are still awaiting the outcome of a trial, set for this coming January, to determine if they will be REFUNDED of money that was collected by way of the old tax. This old tax was in effect all over California, and all over California people are throwing it off. The original law allowed for taxing of land lines, NOT cell phones. The City of Chula Vista brought forward their own version of Measure J, to “modernize” the tax for their own use. Their voters rejected it soundly. But, the city continued to collect the tax.  They said the law was too vague.

Your vivacious Mayor, Ann Schwab, admitted in her “argument in favor” of Measure J, that the old law  needed to be “modernized,” or the city was “at risk” of losing this revenue. What does she mean, “at risk” ? Is she going to pull the same kind of bullshit they pulled in Chula Vista? Ask her at aschwab@ci.chico.ca.us

In Chula Vista, the city claims that ” municipalities all over the state collect a similar tax under similar ordinances.  The original ordinance never intended to exempt from taxation the usage of mobile communication devices that are in common use today.”

See that article at 

http://www.thestarnews.com/latest-news/judge-oks-pursuit-of-lawsuit/

Be ready to hear the same bull from Schwab and Barker. And be ready to go right back on the warpath. If they don’t stop collecting the phone tax, we should go after a reduction in the Utility Tax rate, to 1 percent or less, and then go after an exemption for ALL citizens who qualify for the rate assistance programs offered by the utility companies.  

When the ER reporter asked me for a comment, I told her The Chico Taxpayers Association would follow this thing, and I’m ready to do that. That’s what it takes. The CTA isn’t going to go away. 

 My grandma had a little poem hanging on the wall of our bedroom when we were kids. “Little Boy Blue, come blow your horn! The sheep are in the meadow, the cow is in the corn! “  For those of you who didn’t grow up on a farm, those are bad things – the sheep are scattering, and the cow is wrecking your corn patch.  “But where is the boy who’s to look after the sheep? Why, he’s under the hay mow, fast asleep!” Hey, is that you? Are you sleeping while the cow is eating your good sweet corn, and your sheep are about to be hit by some drunk on his way home from The Four Corners?   At the bottom of the frame, there were the words, “Go After the Cow!” Yes, wake up, write those e-mails, tell those cows, “get your hooves out of my phone bill!” 

HERE’S THE ER ARTICLE FOR REFERENCE

With Measure J failure, City of Chico waits to understand impact

By ASHLEY GEBB-Chico Enterprise Record, Staff Writer
Posted:   11/08/2012 12:05:48 AM PST

CHICO — While Chico voters appear to have defeated a change to the city’s telephone users tax Tuesday, it’s unclear what the city’s next step will be.

Measure J asked voters whether to amend wording to the city’s telephone users tax to encompass modern technology such as cellphones while decreasing the tax rate from 5 percent to 4.5 percent.

With all precincts reporting early Wednesday, the tax measure was failing, with 53 percent opposed.

The tally to date is 12,451 no votes and 10,973 yes votes, with still about 14,000 ballots left to be counted in all of Butte County.

If the measure fails, the city will likely sustain a major hit in revenue that supports the general fund, said Finance Director Jennifer Hennessy.

The city currently receives about $1.4 million annually in telephone user tax revenue, of which $900,000 to $1 million comes from wireless telecommunications providers. That may not be the extent of the loss, Hennessy said.

“Over time as more people transfer from having landlines to having cellphones or other types of voice communication that’s not covered under our current ordinance, our tax base will continue to decrease,” she said.

City Attorney Lori Barker declined to state impacts until Measure J’s outcome is finalized, but she said she will prepare a report for the City Council once all the votes are tabulated.

Measure proponents said its passage was critical to protect tax revenue, while opponents argued it was a regressive tax that unfairly targeted students.If the measure does fail, Hennessy predicts the revenue loss will begin this fiscal year.

The time frame also depends on phone companies, she said, and the city will likely have to proactively inform them they no longer need to collect the tax.

All but one company currently collect the tax. Metro PCS stopped paying the tax in March 2011, causing a loss of nearly $80,000.

“We will be working with the new council as for what priorities are, where we cut the funds, where we cut the expenditures,” she said. “There will be some tough decisions.”

Juanita Sumner of the Chico Taxpayers, a group that worked to raise public awareness about Measure J, said members now will wait to see if the city stops collecting the tax. She noted that in Chula Vista, where a similar measure failed but the tax continued to be collected, the city is being sued.

“Chico Taxpayers are ready to follow this issue to its end,” she wrote in an email.