Tag Archives: Mark Orme needs to go

Letter to the Editor: City services will never be adequately funded until employees start paying their fair share

28 Oct

Dave was reminding me the other day (thanks Dave), elections come and go, but the suits are always working on  tax increases. It’s true, elected officials are here today, gone tomorrow, but The Song Remains the Same – City of Chico Staff is always trying to  find a way to  get us to pay their outrageous salaries and  benefits, without providing us with any services. 

I thought BC really wrapped it up good when he said, “Chico taxpayers… are guaranteeing the generous salaries and benefits of well heeled, well paid, privileged city employees.”

So, I wrote a letter to the editor about it! I borrowed generously from BC’s remarks made a week or so ago here, I hope that’s okay BC! I did change your comment about “average income” to “median family income” because that’s the only statistic I could verify. Still works. 

At my blog, chicotaxpayers.com, we’re discussing the Pension Obligation Bond currently being considered in closed door meetings Downtown.

CalPERS promises to fund the pensions with a 7% investment return, but have not met that target, forcing city of Chico to dip into the General Fund to make increasing payments. That’s right – Chico taxpayers, with a median family income of $43,000/yr, are guaranteeing the generous salaries and benefits of well heeled, well paid, privileged city employees.

A Pension Obligation Bond must  be paid ahead of everything else, at the expense of city services. In the event of a bad return, the bond holders can take our entire General Fund. 

To use a credit card analogy: The City has run up so much credit card (pension) debt, they can’t even make the minimum payment. So while they keep spending at the same or greater rate (hiring three new management positions this year), they mortgage the house to pay down the credit cards. They can’t afford to keep the house up (deteriorating municipal facilities, parks and public areas), can’t fix the driveway (deteriorating streets), can’t afford a security system (fire and police), and eventually can’t afford to put food on the table for the family (homeless).

City services will never be adequately funded until employees start paying their fair share.

Tell Mayor and Finance Committee member Ann Schwab what you think, at ann.schwab@chicoca.gov

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

POST SCRIPT:  I’d also like to see Mark Orme fired, but maybe if we apply enough heat to the seat of his pants we can just make him quit. 

 

Contact Mayor and Finance Committee member Ann Schwab and tell her what you think of Mark Orme’s snake oil scheme to put his pension debt on the taxpayers

28 Oct

I got a great comment from Emily this morning. It was good to hear from somebody, besides me, and Dave, and BC, who is worried about the city’s intentions to foist a Pension Obligation Bond on the taxpayers, currently being discussed in closed meetings.

“Thanks for publishing all of this. I live in District 3 and asked both Denlay and Schwab (I do not consider Breedlove a serious candidate) about their plan to deal with Chico’s unfunded pension liability. Schwab emailed me back immediately with the same response she said she had already sent to you: best way is to make sure businesses can thrive here by improving infrastructure etc, state’s payment requirements are unrealistic and Chico is advocating for change, city has a pension stabilization trust w which to grow its payment funds, and city is considering a pension obligation bond though there’s “some debate” whether those are beneficial.

Thank you again Emily, for taking time to engage the candidates. I had a discussion with Ann, and tried to contact Denlay, who never got back to me.

I’ll give Ann credit – she responds, and she’s honest. But I have to differ with her statement that the state’s requirements are unrealistic. Schwab and her full council signed contracts allowing over-generous salaries and unrealistic employee contributions, and now she says it’s CalPERS’ fault?

Furthermore, she admits there is “some debate” over POB’s being “beneficial“. That’s an understatement, given the warnings the consultant made about the volatility of such bonds. Why would these investments fare any better than CalPERS’ investments, which have been coming in at half or less than their projections? The consultant made it clear – poor returns, which he also said repeatedly are very likely, would be a disaster for the city. The bond holders would take our entire General Fund. That’s about all we have left, besides the already established “Pension Stabilization Slush Fund”.

And, I don’t think the consultants were being fully honest about the streets leasing deal, I think that’s even more risky than they are willing to admit at this stage.

Denlay’s response to Emily was worse.

“I had to follow up with Denlay, who did respond with her ‘instincts’ about how to deal with this problem: get diverse stakeholders together to understand the problems as a whole before working on a solution, need to get different stakeholders to agree on a plan to pay it down within 30 years, but that Chico has ‘many pressing issues even beyond pension liabilities,’ including illegal encampments, needle handout programs, and the state of City Plaza.”

That’s what I’ve been saying about Denlay – she is way over her head. She doesn’t understand that the pension deficit is the biggest debt the city faces, that it is being paid by the taxpayers at the expense of all our city services, and if we don’t do something about it, we’re in for BANKRUPTCY. Worse, she obviously didn’t watch the consultant’s presentation, which is just plain LAZY, girlfriend. The first thing I look for in a candidate is their knowledge of the committees. I’m going to guess she doesn’t even know what committees or who is sitting on them.

But she has been tutored about the POB, because a reader sent me the response he got out of her. That’s what she’s talking about when she says “get diverse stakeholders together to understand the problems as a whole before working on a solution, need to get different stakeholders to agree on a plan to pay it down within 30 years.” The operative word here is “stakeholders” – is she including the taxpayers? Because the consultant also made it very clear that this bond will not go to the ballot, meaning the taxpayers are out of the conversation.

Emily added, “I’m at a bit of a loss bc I can’t believe Schwab is even considering the pension obligation bond, but it doesn’t look like Denlay understands the issues very well.

Thank you Emily, you put it in a nutshell.

But, I’ll still say, at least Schwab is honest, and she responded more clearly. I’ll also tell you something else about Schwab – she wants to get re-elected, I believe she wants to hold onto her seat until she is termed out, so I believe she listens to criticism better than most.

So, it’s time to contact Schwab – she’s not just the District 3 candidate she’s your mayor, and a member of the Finance Committee that is forwarding a recommendation to Council. Tell her what you think of this insane idea.

Tell her you know the sneaky, dirty truth that Mark Orme doesn’t want us to know. This isn’t the kind of bond that shows up on your property tax bill. It’s the kind of bond that drains city finances, written to be paid ahead of any of our other debt and ahead of financing services. This POB will show up in the form of PUBLIC SAFETY SERVICE CUTS, UNMAINTAINED STREETS, A FILTHY PARK, AND HIGHER SEWER FEES.

And there’s the next thing that will show up on the horizon – another tax proposal. They’ll let the streets go to crap, the park will remain a giant hobo camp, and you will continue to see “quality of life crimes” without any response from the cops. When they think we’re about up to here with it, they’ll offer another tax increase. They’ll tell us it’s for the streets and public safety. Oh yeah, remember – just like they told us the Trash Tax would go to the Street Fund. The truth is, they’ve voted year after year to put it in the General Fund, out of which they make their 7-8-9-10-and now 11 million dollar UAL “catch up” payments.

So tell Ann you’re hip to those kind of tricks. Yes, we need to address the pension deficit, head on. Meaning, THE EMPLOYEES, ESPECIALLY MANAGEMENT, NEED TO PAY MORE. And they need to do it without the raises council has given them every time they’ve agreed to pay more of their pension – how asinine is that?

That’s ann.schwab@chicoca.gov

No on Measure E; and there will be a quiz later today about that Finance Committe meeting!

16 Oct

Wow, who would have guessed Measure E – city council districts – would be such a hot topic. Looking at the stats the last week or so, that’s what people have been hitting – “Measure E – Divide and Conquer”.

In the music business, they would call that a “throwaway piece.” I was just annoyed and frustrated over the response I got from the city clerk when I asked about this measure. The clerk is like a sphinx, you could know her 30 years, and I almost have, and never know what’s on her mind. She states the facts, she answers a question as you ask it. Never opines. But, this time she seemed genuinely confused – it’s a stupid measure. And it makes a person think, council pulled a fast one – like the cell phone tax they collected illegally for years – and they need the public to approve it.

I hope that’s what other people are thinking, and I hope it fails. Districts are not only unnecessary, they are a ploy by both the liberals and the conservatives, who both seem to think they can manipulate this system.

Prepare to be manipulated!

And if somebody feels like emailing city finance man Scott Dowell, scott.dowell@chicoca.gov, they could ask him how much it is going to cost to REDRAW THE DISTRICTS after the upcoming CENSUS.

I’m also shocked to see how interested people are in the school board race. I’m sure glad, and I’m sorry I don’t have anything better to offer than “vote for people who aren’t/haven’t ever been school district employees”, but that’s my story, and I’m standing by it.

But I’m sincerely grateful to those of you who have downloaded and watched the video I posted –

https://gofile.io/d/zqp5BI

with big THANKS to DAVE for that link. Since I posted that last Friday, almost 100 people have seen it, and, as committee member Sean Morgan agreed, that’s a helluva lot more people than actually attend those meetings.

So, after I finish my chores this morning, I’m going to make a QUIZ! We all love a quiz, don’t we? I’ll try to make it good and tough. And yeah, I’ll probably allow cheating. The teachers I learned the most from were the ones who allowed open book/notes tests. And that’s the point here, I want more people to see how the city operates behind closed doors.

Another hair-brained scheme from Orme and Constantin – Finance Committee to discuss leasing our streets to pay the pension deficit. No, I’m not joking.

21 Sep

This Wednesday the city Finance Committee will be discussing the Unfunded Pension Liability. The agenda says they plan to “restructure,” but you know, the real dirt is in the reports, available at this link. 

https://chico.ca.us/sites/main/files/file-attachments/9-23-20_finance_committee_agenda_packet.pdf?1600381637

So, I wrote a letter to the paper about it yesterday. We’ll see if Speed Wolcott (if he’s even in town) can get it in before the meeting! 

Chico Finance Committee meets this week (9/23) to discuss “restructuring” the $146,000,000 pension deficit. Topics include a Pension Obligation Bond and “lease revenue bonds”.

Pension obligation bonds (POBs) are taxable bonds used to fund the unfunded portion of pension liabilities with borrowed money.  The presumption is that investments will pay the debt service. However, as with CalPERS, failure to achieve the targeted rate of return means the taxpayer is stuck with the debt service on the bonds.  And, we’re still stuck with the pension deficit. POB’s are a jump out of the frying pan, into the fire.

“Lease revenue bonds” involve municipalities issuing bonds (borrowing money) using their own city streets or buildings as collateral to pay down their unfunded pension liabilities. From the 9/23 agenda: “A lease revenue bond structure (leased asset required, such as streets or buildings) would avoid validation process [meaning, the voters] and could proceed on quicker schedule.”

Essentially, a city leases their streets to a special Financing Authority, which will pay the city their up-front money, and “rent” the streets back to the city, in order to pay off the bonds. (Forbes)

And the taxpayers pay the “rent”.  “The municipality will generally appropriate money during each budget session to meet the lease [rent] payment.” (Forbes) These appropriations come at the cost of public safety and infrastructure.

Lease revenue bonds are essentially pension obligation bonds, but can “proceed on quicker schedule” because there’s no voter approval.

A real solution for the pension crisis – ask employees to pay more.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA