Tag Archives: How to write a letter to the editor

How to write a letter to the editor

29 Jan

I’m working on my election letter to the Enterprise Record. My English 1A professor called this a “thought flow”

  • Chico Area Recreation District Measure A is a parcel tax 
  • This tax will start at $85/year, per parcel, but will increase annually with the Cost of Living Index (roughly 2% currently, this number goes up every year)
  • This tax has no sunset date
  • This tax will be administered equally between giant corporate properties and small residences. In other words, you will pay the same tax on your Chapmantown crapper that Ken Grossman pays for all that bling over on 20th Street.
  • You will also pay the same tax as giant apartment houses full of 100’s of people – renters probably won’t even notice it, but homeowners will.
  • CARD gets about $5 million a year in tax revenues, including a little over a million in “RDA passthrough” and another $3 million from county prop tax receipts, and then another $200,000 in neighborhood assessments collected from homeowners and park development funds from developer fees. 
  • what is RDA Passthrough? CARD manager Ann Willmann  tries to deny that this is tax money. The Redevelopment Act was set up in 1945, mostly to fund schools. It is funded from the annual increase in your property taxes.  From a study conducted by Sonoma County schools a few years ago – “Simply put, tax increment is the annual increase in property tax revenues in a redevelopment project area above a base year amount.”  They put that money in a fund and divvy it out to various public agencies. How can she say that’s not tax money? 
  • CARD only gets about $3.6 million from program fees and facility rentals.
  • CARD spends over $5 million on salaries and benefits. 
  • CARD spends less than $2 million on “services and supplies”. That figure includes everything from maintenance costs to supplies for office parties. 
  • CARD also makes “side payments” toward the pension deficit out of a “Pension Stabilization Trust”. The trust is funded with money from the General Fund. 
  • The 2017-18 budget shows the Capital Projects fund is $340,376 in the negative. 
  • While this parcel tax will not go into the General Fund, it will free up all the General Fund for paying the pensions. f

The above amounts to over 400 words, but yeah, it can be cut down to 250 pretty easily, I’ll work on that later. The first thing I will do is eliminate repetition, then use contractions for stuff like “it is” – that actually really cuts down a letter, saying “it’s”, etc. Then I will look for unnecessary words. 

Later we’ll have some fun with math – here’s a word problem – what percentage of CARD revenues go to salaries and benefits? Just regular payroll – I have not had time to add up all their “side fund payments” to CalPERS, but I know they’ve put over a $1 million into the Pension Stabilization Trust in just the last year. 

Feel free to use these points in your letter to the editor – you can look at the 2017-18 CARD budget for yourself here:

Click to access 2017-18+Budget+-+Version+2.pdf

POST SCRIPT: A very important point I left out:

  • CARD employees pay only 5.5 – 8% of the agency cost of their pensions – that’s next time!