Tag Archives: Mark Sorensen Chico City Manager

Is our city council too dependent on “staff” to make their decisions? Ask your rep if they read the Taxpayer Protection Act and if they understand it (you might want to read it yourself first… )

11 Mar

When I watched last week’s city council meeting on video, I realized, Mark Sorensen is trying to shove his resolution to oppose the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act right through, with as little transparency as possible. The Consent Agenda?

I am shocked. Years ago, when they discussed a sales tax increase with Sorensen as a council member, he and Sean Morgan both opined loudly that it should be a 2/3’s measure, with Morgan mumbling something about wanting the voters to make the decision so he wouldn’t be on the hook for it later. Sorensen stood firm for a 2/3’s measure, but it didn’t materialize on his watch.

And I was also shocked, after he lost his last bid for council, that Sorensen drank the Kool Aid, taking the job as City Manager for Biggs. He sold his interest in his cable satellite company and took that job from his next door neighbor Pete Carr, who was leaving that position for a manager position in Orland.

Then last year, when Council gave Mark Orme the door, Mark Sorensen was waiting right behind it, taking an unprecedented salary of $211,000/yr. He pays only 9% of the cost of his pension, adding to the bottomless pit of CalPERS debt. As a former council member he knows very well the situation with CalPERS, but he doesn’t seem to be too worried about our bottom line anymore, just his.

That’s why he’s freaking out over the TPGAA – he worked hard to shove Measure H past the voters on a 50+1 vote, now it’s “in jeopardy” alright – if the TPGAA passes, Measure H is null and void and has to go back to the ballot for 2/3’s of the vote.

Here’s a question that just popped into my mind – if they start collecting on that tax on April 1, and the TPGAA passes, will they have to give back all the money collected under that tax? Here’s the answer – NO. When we rejected Measure J, they’d been illegally collecting the cell phone tax for over 20 years. The offered a refund, but required hard copies of phone bills, and only for a year back.

It’s obvious to see why Sorensen opposes the TPGAA, and I expected council to roll right in with him, so I was surprised when Kasey Reynolds offered this: “it seems like there’s a lot of conflicting information… it sounds like it could affect our measure H…” She suggested tabling it for discussion at another meeting. She seemed nervous – yeah Kasey, everybody in town knows you voted on the Warren case and then said you didn’t understand it and you wanted a do-over. Good for you.

Sean Morgan commented that information presented by “staff” conflicts with information he received from Assemblyman James Gallagher’s office, but did not elaborate. Is he accusing who of lying? He sulked, “I don’t trust the League of California Cities at all…” The League is a major opponent of the TPGAA, and also supported the legislature in gutting the voter requirements set forth in Prop 13. The city of Chico is a dues paying member. ( The League of California Cities is a publicly funded nonprofit organization, funding provided by dues paying cities like Chico CA ) It was the League who in 2013 issued a report suggesting that cities should start deferring maintenance and make larger payments to CalPERS.

From that report: “City pension costs will dramatically increase to unsustainable levels, (2) Rising pension costs will require cities to nearly double the percentage of their general fund dollars they pay to CalPERS, and (3) Cities have few options to address growing pension liabilities.

“Change service delivery methods and levels of certain public services: Many cities have already consolidated and cut local services during the Great Recession and have not been able to restore those service levels. Often, revenue growth from the improved economy has been absorbed by pension costs. The next round of service cuts will be even harder.” 

As far as The League is concerned, the taxpayers need to pay down the pension deficit brought about by years of unrealistic employee contributions. As far as The League is concerned, Prop 13 is Enemy No 1. So, while I’m glad Mr. Morgan has a healthy distrust of that quasi-public agency, I’d suggest both he and Reynolds read the text of the actual ballot measure instead of depending on city of Chico or Gallagher’s staffers, all of whom are CalPERS members. Yes, it “threatens our Measure H…” it sure does. Read for yourself:

I find it really annoying that city council members depend on staff to tell them about stuff when they could just read about it themselves. Sometimes I wonder if Reynolds is qualified to hold office.

But at least they passed a motion to table it for “another meeting” – approved 7-0. Dummies – none of them read the measure, did they? I’m a landlady, and every time I get a new tenant I ask them if they read the documents I sent them and if they have questions. I use big print and a “lease for dummies”, you know, so I can understand it. I’ll never forget the two guys who ran a local non-profit – when I asked if they’d read it, they both got big eyes, held their hands out for a copy, and walked to opposite sides of the driveway. But they damned sure read it, and I asked them specific questions before we all signed. Maybe we should ask ourselves if our council members are able to read and understand at a high school level before we vote them into office. Can they use a dictionary? How about Google? Dummies – they think running for council is a popularity contest.

Hey, want to have some fun? Read the Taxpayers Protection and Government Accountability Act ballot measure posted above and we’ll have a quiz. You can send same questions to your council rep, see how much they know about the damned thing.

This morning I sent a note to the clerk’s office, asked, when and where will the conversation continue? I’ll keep you posted. In the meantime, I wrote a letter to the editor about this situation,

On the advice of city manager and former Councilman Mark Sorensen, Chico City Council is considering a resolution opposing The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, slated for the 2024 ballot. According to Sorensen, “The [TPGAA] would make it more difficult for voters to pass measures needed to fund local services and projects, and would put initiatives passed by voters after January 2022, such as Measure H passed by Chico voters in November 2022, in jeopardy. “

“make it more difficult for voters”? No, it will make it harder for public agencies to pass taxes without full voter approval. Since when is that a bad thing? And yes, it would jeopardize Measure H, a full cent sales tax that squeaked by with less than 53% of the vote last November.

If the TPGAA passes, it will reinstate the 2/3’s voter threshold to pass taxes, approved overwhelmingly by California voters under Prop 13, stripped later by the legislature without a ballot measure. If you think housing is unaffordable now, imagine a world without Prop 13 – home ownership becomes a privilege of the ultra rich. This measure would also reinstate rules for campaign “transparency”. Why would Sorensen want council to oppose transparency?

Sorensen’s resolution would mean the city would be added to the “No coalition” – does that involve taxpayer money? Staff time has already been used on this resolution.

I’m glad council tabled this discussion for another meeting. Contact your representative and ask them why they’d oppose a law that protects taxpayers.

Juanita Sumner, Chico CA

KRCR News: Chico City Council to vote on resolution AGAINST taxpayer protection ballot measure – this measure would overturn Measure H, the Chico sales tax increase

7 Mar


by Muna Sadek Monday, Mar. 6, 2023

CHICO, Calif. — Next November, California voters will have the chance to vote on a ballot measure that aims to make it a little tougher to pass taxes.

The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act, spearheaded by the California Business Roundtable, would set new rules at both the state and local levels. It would require state legislation that imposes any new taxes or tax increases to be approved first by a majority of California voters. Secondly, proponents say it would close a loophole at the local level by requiring that special taxes only be passed with a two-thirds majority vote.

Chico city officials are set to vote on a resolution against the measure Tuesday. According to a staff report from City Manager Mark Sorensen, the recently-passed Measure H is at stake because the ballot measure is retroactive to Jan. 1, 2022. Measure H was passed with 52% voter support.

Longtime Chico resident and owner of ChicoTaxpayers.com Juanita Sumner says she felt beat down after the passage of Measure H but believes the Taxpayer Protection Act could offer local taxpayers reprieve.

“If you can’t get two-thirds of the people to support a tax, why would you put it out there?” Sumner says. “It just about divides our town between the haves and the have-nots and the have-nots could use a little pick up.”

Meanwhile, Sorensen cautions that the city stands to lose about $24 million that would otherwise be generated by the Measure H sales tax for road repair projects and other infrastructure needs. The tax is set to go into effect April 1.