Tag Archives: jBeth Vice Biggs Ca

Talk about blood sucking PESTS! Please vote NO on mosquito tax.

1 May

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I found a packet for an upcoming election in my mailbox over the weekend, and I was shocked I hadn’t heard anything about it in the print or broadcast media. Again, a local government agency is trying to stick us for their pensions and health benefits.

Like CARD, Butte County Mosquito and Vector Control District is management top heavy with employees paying as little as 1% of their own benefits out of salaries in excess of $100,000.

I found some budget information on the BCMVCD website, and e-mailed District Manager Matt Ball with some questions. He’s a real cooperative nice guy, answered immediately. According to Ball, “District employees are 100% covered and District employee family members are 80% covered under a Blue Shield high deductible plan. District employees hired on or before December 31, 2012, pay 1% of their CalPERS retirement plan.  District employees hired on or after January 1, 2013, pay 6.25% of their CalPERS retirement plan.”

We pay workman’s comp and social security for public employees,  in addition to the health insurance and pensions, I always forget to bring that up. In fact, according to annual budgets available on their website, BCMVCD laid out over $150,000 for FICA and workman’s comp last year, throwing out another $500,000+ for health insurance and pensions, just for their top 18 employees. Only 18 employees, costing the taxpayers over $2 million in salaries, then almost three quarters of a million more on health coverage and pensions.

I did not get any of this information out of the pamphlet sent to me by the district. The pamphlet, printed at our expense, is just propaganda aimed at passing the assessment. It starts out, “Why Did You Receive This Assessment Ballot?” and goes on to describe the “purpose of the Mosquito Control District” – yeah, to prevent the diseases transmitted by mosquitoes and other “vectors” or “disease bearing pests.” I’m all over that, that’s why we have a Mosquito Control District. But why are we receiving this ballot?

The next paragraph talks about funding – “The Mosquito Control District is primarily funded by a small portion of property taxes.”   Then, “significant increased cost of controlling West Nile Virus…declining property values…transfer of District revenues  by the State and County to other agencies.” Finally, “Without this additional funding, the district will have to reduce mosquito, vector and disease control services.

Ah, the repetition – these agencies always use the same tired  tactics. First they drum up fear, then they tell us how they can protect us, then finally, threaten to withdraw all protection if we don’t pay. That sounds like the plot line from some old cop show like Streets of San Francisco. Let’s call Mike Stone! Kojak!

Here’s the reason they want  this bond – they have lost over $350,000/year in RDA funding.  I could not find revenue information on the website, so I asked Matt Ball and he  obliged. The district still gets about $2 million from property and other taxes, as well as interest (on what I don’t know), and service fees. But, that $350,000 covered their health benefits, which, according to Mr. Ball, are provided to employees 100% free of cost and to their families at only 20% of cost.

And then there’s another $224,000 (figure for 2013-14) in PERS premiums, of which the employees pay less than 7 percent, most as little as 1 percent.

Let’s all remember – one RDA dollar borrowed equals three RDA dollars owed. BCMVCD has enjoyed a hefty portion of RDA fixins – about $3.5 million a year. In 2011/12, they got more than twice as much – $733,404.09. Good Grief Charley Brown – since 2007, they’ve received over $2.5 million in RDA dollars – get out the calculator Pa – that’s almost $8 million dollars, gone to their pensions and benefits, for 18  employees over six years. Eight million dollars. 

Throughout this period, property tax and related revenues have continued to climb steadily, despite BCMVCD’s complaint that property values have gone down. 

Like every other agency around here, BCMVCD had become overly comfortable with spending borrowed money on themselves.  I don’t think it’s uncivil in any way to say “feathering their own nests”  – what else would you call these pensions, for which they contribute less than 10 percent, but a sweet feathered nest?

Worst of all, they not only line their nest with borrowed money, they do it at the expense of services and staff. Acording to Mr. Ball, “Last July the District laid off two full-time permanent employees and has cut its seasonal workforce from 14-10.”  He also mentioned that district employees have not received a pay raise for three years, and their current Memo of Understanding with the county leaves them without a raise this year. But, in the budgets I see on the website, the health benefits and pensions payments continued to increase, even as the salary total went down. 

Of course, as you’d expect, the biggest single expense after employee compensation is for pesticides. A lot of people are against the use of pesticides in mosquito abatement, many would simply like to see more responsible use.  I think reasonable people would agree that some use of poisons is necessary to protect the human population in cases of gross infestation. But, there are plenty of alternatives, including, getting rid of their breeding areas through public clean-up campaigns. I wonder, has the department been utilizing more alternative measures to fight this claimed increase in the West Nile threat? Or, has the cost of pesticides like pyrethrin been going down lately? I wonder because, over the past three years, BCMVCD has been spending less and less money on pesticides. 

You can see the budget information here:

http://www.bcmvcd.com/current_fiscal_budgets/14%20Final%20Budget.pdf

And here’s John Chiang’s website with salary information:

http://www.publicpay.ca.gov/Reports/SpecialDistricts/SpecialDistrict.aspx?entityid=1663&fiscalyear=2012

I’m sorry to sprout such a blob on you, but I like to think you are intelligent people who need all the facts to make your decisions. Yes, I know mosquitoes carry disease, that’s why I clean my rain gutters and look around my yard at this time of year for anything that holds a little skanky water. In the pamphlet and on their website, BCMVCD urge you to turn in your neighbor with the green swimming pool – why don’t they tell you to clean your rain gutters? Why don’t they warn you, don’t leave your recycling can, open, outside behind the garage? Maybe they should tell people how much rainwater can get into an upright soda or beer or water bottle left next to a patio chair or a recycling bin, or how many mosquito larvae/pupae can live in that much water, and how quickly they go from egg to fully capable blood sucker.

I really don’t think they are interested in educating people, their pamphlet is clearly biased toward  getting money to pay their benefits and pensions.

Here’s the nutshell version: VOTE NO!