Tag Archives: The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act

UPDATE: illegal garbage tax would require a lawsuit to overturn; council rejects Sorensen’s suggestion to oppose Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act

16 Mar

Well, I’ve been preoccupied with the weather lately – there’s a lot of big trees in my neighborhood, and I could sit hypnotized all day by the swaying canopy outside my apartment windows. It’s like a juke joint out there, but you can’t hear the music over the 40+ mph winds.

But I’ve also tried to keep up with various issues that are on my radar because they affect the cost of living for my family and my tenants – the garbage tax, and the Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act.

The Garbage Tax: The “trash franchise” that was instituted in Chico back about 2013 was determined to be illegal in an August 2022 decision by the CA Supreme Court in the case of Zolly v. City of Oakland. What I finally realized the last time I studied the court’s decision (no, I’m not a lawyer, I’m just an old lady with Google) – the decision will not result in an immediate overturn of these franchises, it looks like each city, including Chico, would have to be sued by a citizen/citizen’s group to enforce the decision. Any takers?

Laura Dougherty, council for Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, suggested that we inform our city leaders of this case and hope they’ll be rational – meaning, either abandon the franchise, or put it on a ballot measure. My attempts to take this conversation to council have ended with the city clerk, who says I have to come to a meeting and tell them during Business from the Floor. I know they already know about the decision – Chico is a member of the California League of Cities, and the CLC is flying pissed about the decision, having written numerous articles in their various newsletters. The court was pretty clear – one justice used the word “collusion” to describe the deal Oakland had made with their waste hauler.

Why do I care? Because after years of the same reasonable rate from my old hauler, I was forced into a deal with another hauler that has doubled what I pay, even though I have switched to smaller bins. And they are making increasing demands – for goddsake, don’t let them find wet cardboard in your recycling bins! And this whole composting bullshit – that’s another blog post.

But that’s where it’s at – we would have to sue those shits on city council to get them to fess up – just like Measure J, the cell phone tax. I don’t have that kind of moolah, so I will just continue to bitch about it.

The Taxpayer Protection and Government Accountability Act. Yeah, what a mouthful – what does it mean? The TPGAA will be on the ballot in 2024. It would change the voter threshold for tax measures back to 2/3’s. The legislature, behind our backs, dumped the 2/3’s requirement that we approved with Prop 13 – yeah, you have to watch those fuckers, they’re up to no good around the clock in Sacramento.

And you have to watch your local leaders – our council and staff put a simple tax measure – H – on last November’s ballot, knowing it couldn’t get 2/3’s approval, and more importantly – not wanting to go with a 2/3’s measure because it would have meant the money had to be restricted to a specific purpose. They didn’t have the nerve to float a Pension Obligation Bond, even though that’s what will happen to most of the money – a simple measure goes into the General Fund, and the General Fund goes mostly toward the pensions. Don’t take my word for it, read the budget yourself.

Measure H barely made it under the wire, with less than 53% approval. Under the TPGAA, any measure passed after January 2022 without 2/3’s approval is overturned. Yep. That’s why Mark Sorensen was worried – he said we stand to lose $24 million a year in Measure H revenues if the TPGAA passes.

Well, so what. The $5-6 million he’s announced for street work is all going to superficial “slurry coatings” on non-residential streets, like the roundabout in front of the Taj Mahal fire station #5. They have admitted they will not be resurfacing any of our beat up and sub-code residential streets, even as they pay to put new streets in new subdivisions on the outer edges of town. Over the years preceeding their tax campaign, staffers said the real cost of repairing Chico streets would be in the hundreds of millions – they aren’t going to do that, they’re going to make a few superficial, highly public repairs now, and by next year H receipts will be pouring right in to the General Fund, and from there to the Pension Stabilization Trust.

But Sorensen asked council to join the California League of Cities in opposing the TPGAA, because he knows it would overturn Measure H. Luckily, the reporter from Ch 7, Muna Sadek, did a story about it, and all the sudden James Gallagher’s office is telling Kasey Reynolds to drop the opposition. Council voted unanimously last week to table their resolution to oppose the measure. The city clerk informed me that Mark Sorensen has told her he won’t be bringing it back. I wondered, what did Assyman Gallagher’s office tell them about this measure? So I emailed Gallagher’s staff and will share any information they send me.

The good news is, the TPGAA will be on the 2024 ballot and we will be able to support it. And, this measure includes a provision that overturns measures like H that were approved by a simple majority after January, 2022.

Well, that’s where it’s at for now – join me next time on This Old Lady!