Tag Archives: UUT

Ann Schwab offers to give us a half-cent decrease in exchange for a four-and-a-half cent INCREASE!

2 Sep

City council races are supposed to be “non-partisan” – tell that to Ann Schwab. But watch it, Bob Mulhullond might move in to impale you with those over-sized scissors he used at the Grand Opening of Democratic Headquarters on Mangrove Avenue.

You’ll recognize the building, I’m sure, by the “Yes on TAXES!” signs posted out front. The Democrats have got a wish list of tax increases, starting with Jerry Brown’s statewide sales tax increase, and the Chico Democrats are on the bandwagon.

I haven’t noticed any “Yes on Measure J” signs out front of the building yet. Measure J – that’s Ann Schwab’s cell phone tax. I call it that because she promoted it and wrote the “For” argument on the ballot pamphlet, so I assume it’s her little bastard. And what an ugly baby it is!   A  4.5 percent tax to your cell phones, as well as your pager, and forms of “electronic communication” that haven’t even been introduced to the public yet. As a matter of fact, as soon as the phone companies start charging you for your Skype fix, Schwab will tax that  too.

Here’s the text of measure J, as it will appear on the November ballot:

Shall an ordinance be adopted to amend the City’s Telephone User’s Tax in order to: 1) reduce the tax rate from 5% to 4.5%   2) modernize the definition of telephone communication services subject to the tax to include new technologies such as wireless and voice over internet services  3)apply the tax to all telephone communications services regardless of the type of technology used; and 4) reflect changes to federal and state law?

I have to take this thing apart and look at it – where is that smell coming from?

Well, here, isn’t this funny – it says, first of all, “reduce the tax rate from 5% to 4.5%” – that doesn’t make sense. See, currently, there is no  tax on your cell phone, so how could Schwab be reducing it? The city charter only allows for the taxing of electricity, natural gas, water, and land lines, at 5%. The rate will stay the same on your PG&E bill and Cal Water bill – 5 percent – but she’s offering to lower it to 4.5% on old school telephones  in order to get us to agree to allow her to tax our cell phones too.  

She’s crafty, that gal, and what balls of brass she has! She’s offering a half-cent decrease on the dollar for your landline in order to get a four-and-a-half-cent INCREASE on the dollar on your cell phone. Read that again, and then page me.

I just googled this “fact” – about 30 percent of U.S. households have dumped their land lines, as of February 2012. You can take that or leave it, or google it for yourself. I would say, that’s understated – only one of my friends has a landline, that I know of. I’m guessing a few more that I have never discussed it with. But alot of my friends, and all of my tenants, are going wireless, and loving it. Little did they know, silly rabbits, that the bunny bopper was heading for town.

I’d guess a lot of the existing landlines are for businesses, and that probably won’t change any time soon. I wonder how much a half-cent decrease would amount to for the average business? How would it stand up to the extra 4.5 cents on the dollar they would pay for their cell phones, pagers, and “voice over internet protocol”?

So much for “reduce the tax rate…”

Next we see how the city attorney uses the word “modernize” to mean, “tax something that has never been taxed before.”  Here’s where this measure enables $taff to extend this tax, at their discretion, to “ to include new technologies such as wireless and voice over internet services “.  As Mark Sorensen puts it, “to include all and any new forms of electronic communication, now or in the future…” 

I don’t know if you’ve been following this:

https://chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com/2012/08/29/hennessy-is-using-city-funds-like-walnut-shells-to-hide-and-move-money/

but I’ve got a problem with allowing a person who won’t give us a straight accounting of what she’s doing with our money any further discretion to take MORE of our money.

So much for “modernization.”

The next part of the measure seems harmless enough until you read Schwab’s “Argument For,”  which I posted here:

https://chicotaxpayers.wordpress.com/2012/08/25/ann-schwabs-argument-in-favor-of-measure-j-to-protect-against-the-risk-of-losing-illegally-collected-tax-revenues/

The measure says, “apply the tax to all telephone communications services regardless of the type of technology used”.    But Schwab injects something more into it – “ ensure that all users of communication services are treated the same,” insinuating that some of us are getting away with something.  She’s trying to pit the land line users against the cell phone users. Hopefully, that tack will turn around to bite her on the ass – I’m guessing, the majority of landline users are also cell phone users, and I think I covered that pretty thoroughly already. Why would you allow yourself to be hookwinked that way by a woman who runs her fiscal house like a betting parlor? 

And that knocks “let’s be fair – let’s screw everybody!” out of the ballpark.

Finally, she reminds us that this measure is the result of a court decision stating that many California cities, including Chico, have been taking a tax off your cell phone illegally. Our city charter, like those of cities up and down the state,  had adopted the standard language of the “telecommunications tax” over 20  years ago, before cell phones were widely available to the general public. The original ordinance, which still sits on the books Downtown, only allows for the taxation of land lines. But the city has been collecting the cell phone tax off of willing providers, like AT&T,  all these years. At the maximum rate allowed by city charter – five percent. 

In the Southern California town of Chula Vista, city $taff undertook a similar scam, described by one attorney as “a failed attempt to retroactively authorize UUTs” . The voters not only overturned their Measure H, but are currently undertaking a class action suit to demand return of the money, taken illegally by their city staff. Unbelievably, as of this time last year, the city of Chula Vista was still collecting the illegal tax, even after the voters overturned their “modernization” measure and mounted a lawsuit. The lawsuit is scheduled to be heard in January of 2013. 

Please tell your friends and neighbors about this taking. How many of us can afford to shell out more money for city staff and their outrageous salaries? Why are we paying the “employee share” of their benefits? Why are we paying one staffer over $85,000 a year plus benefits to foist a bag ban on our local grocery stores? Can we really afford to have Lori Barker, at over $200,000 a year, writing an unenforceable smoking ban? 

Where are the jobs? 

Please join me and the Chico Taxpayer’s Association in rejecting Measure J. 

Ann Schwab’s argument in favor of Measure J – “to protect against the risk of losing” illegally collected tax revenues

25 Aug

Here is the “Statement of Accuracy” signed by those arguing in favor of Measure J – Mayor Ann Schwab and councillors Holcombe, Gruendl, and Goloff. Jim Walker submitted a letter of consent.

A few weeks ago I received an e-mail with these documents attached – arguments FOR and AGAINST Measure J, the cell phone tax, submitted to the city clerk earlier this month.  None of them cut and pastable into my blog, so I’ve been hem-hawing around trying to figure out how to load them up. I hate to break this kind of news – I am not exactly a computer whiz kid.  Word Press is a wonderful forum, but there’s buttons I still haven’t figured out yet. 

So, I finally just took a picture of the above “Statement of Accuracy” sheet with my camera – you can see how that turned out. The “Argument in Favor” below had to be typed in from a window on the little “notepad” my kids gave me for Christmas.

The city clerk has said she can’t give me the cut and pastable versions cause she’s afraid I’ll “edit” them.  Well, I’ll assure you, I have typed this argument in very carefully, word for word, and this is what Ann Schwab has to say for herself. I will admit, I received this argument before the county clerk had assigned a letter to the measure, so I added the letter ‘J’.  Let’s discuss this over the next few weeks :

Argument in Favor of Measure J – Utility Users Tax

We recommend approval of Measure J to protect existing revenue to continue vital services for the residents of the City of Chico.

The City of chico is at risk of losing $900,000 each year if voters do not approve Measure J to modernize the language of it’s current Users Utility Tax (UUT) ordinance. This would represent a significant reduction in General Fund revenue. The primary purpose of amending the telephone users’ tax is to protect existing revenue for the General Fund. A loss of $900,000 a year would result in reduced police and fire services, road maintenance and park funds.

In recent years, there have been significant changes in both technology and billing practices. The use of wireless services and voice over internet protocol has become widespread, billing for local and long distance services  is frequently bundled, and long distance calls are not always billed based on time and distance, even for land lines.

To protect against the risk of losing tax revenues in the face of legal issues, approval of Measure J will modernize this existing tax to ensure that all users of communication services are treated the same, regardless of the type of technology they are using or billing practices employed by their providers.

This proposed amendment includes a slight rate reductionk, from 5% to 4.5%. This rate, if applied to the average cell phone bill of $50 per month, would equate to a monthly charge of $2.25 as opposed to the current charge of $2.50.

Vote yes for Measure J and protect existing police, fire, roads and parks in the City of Chico.