Sales Tax Increase Necessary to Save Bureaucrats’ Multi-Million Dollar Pensions

While your retirement investments implode in what is shaping up to be the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, city bureaucrats expect YOU to pay higher taxes in order to save their multi-million dollar pensions.

Over the years tens of millions of dollars that should have gone for roads, infrastructure and other necessities has been siphoned off to CalPERS in a futile attempt to fund ridiculous and unaffordable pensions.

Recently the city experienced a surplus in excess of $3 million. What did they do with the money? They didn’t spend a penny of it on the roads and instead shipped $400,000 of it off to CalPERS for pensions. (See https://chicotaxpayers.com/2020/03/15/time-for-true-pension-reform/ ) This is ON TOP of the money they already sent to CalPERS for the fiscal year!

In today’s ER city bureaucrat Constantin says the tax increase is “absolutely needed.” From the ER:

It’s likely, Constantin believes, that the city’s “most substantial needs” would be addressed.

It’s likely? He believes? Those are weasel words, folks. The ER goes on:

And yes, said Constantin, it could be used for pensions.

Hah! Ya think? OF COURSE IT WILL BE USED FOR PENSIONS!

If you want to read the rest of Constantin’s drivel you can read it here

If voters are stupid enough to pass this tax increase it will only enable them to continue what they’ve been doing for many years.

You may never be able to afford to retire but the city council and Constantin believe you should pay MORE TAXES so city bureaucrats can retire as multi-millionaires! ARE YOU GOING TO LET THEM GET AWAY WITH THAT?

LET THE CITY COUNCIL KNOW YOU WILL NOT PASS THEIR SALES TAX INCREASE AND DEMAND THEY REFORM THE PENSIONS!

CARD Still Won’t Reform Its Unfunded Liabilities

While the markets are nosediving and already underfunded CalPERS is taking a big hit, CARD still refuses to reform its unaffordable pension and other post employment benefit liabilities. This despite the failure of Measure A.

Here’s what CARD board member and CalPERS six figure pension recipient Tom Lando had to say in today’s ER:

Even though we said — truthfully — that there’s a plan to pay off unfunded liabilities, people weren’t sure. Pensions are hanging over people’s heads.

Sure there is a plan. It is to do what they’ve been doing for years: divert millions of the taxpayer’s dollars that should go to maintenance, programs and new facilities to CalPERS so the pension gravy train can keep rolling. And that’s exactly what CARD will continue to do. And Measure A supporters blamed CARD’s unfunded liabilities on the state. That’s a lie. It wasn’t the state that approved CARD’s unaffordable employee compensation packages. It was CARD’s board.

And the ER article attributes the defeat of Measure A in part to “a robust anti-Measure A campaign.”

What a laugh. Yes, a handful of people wrote letters to the two local newspaper and a couple of people blogged against Measure A and there were some No on A signs but that was it. The ER article fails to mention that special interests poured over $64,000 to push through Measure A including $50,000 from the SIEU and $6,000 from board member and six figure CalPERS pension recipient Tom Lando.

CARD’s board and bureaucracy have no intention of ever reforming their unfunded liabilities. They expect taxpayers to continue to pay for unfordable pensions and other post employment benefits at the expense of park maintenance, programs and new facilities.

Had Measure A passed CARD’s board planned to spend two-thirds of the new tax money not on the parks and programs but on debt service. Of course CARD didn’t mention this in the ballot measure. Shouldn’t taxpayers have been told that before they passed a permanent and ever increasing tax?

And in addition to the over $64,000 from special interests that was raised, CARD spent 132,500 taxpayer dollars trying to get Measure A passed. THIS, THE DIVERSION OF MONEY TO CALPERS AND THE INTENTION OF SPENDING MOST OF THE NEW TAX ON DEBT SERVICE SHOWS WHAT TERRIBLE STEWARDS CARD AND ITS BUREAUCRACY ARE OF THE TAXPAYER’S MONEY.

CARD’s board and supporters deceived the public. Measure A was a fraud. The entire CARD board needs to go and Lando should be the first out the door, and the new board should get rid of CARD’s existing bureaucracy.

Measure L(ando) Goes Down to Defeat

The people within CARD’s taxing authority had the good sense to vote down Measure A. It was a bad tax that would have resulted in $36 million in new debt. It was regressive, permanent and two of every three dollars they would have taken from you would have gone to Wall Street for interest and fees. What a waste of money! And of course, the special interests backed it with over $64,000.

And this tax was proposed because like the City of Chico, CARD refuses to reform its unfunded liabilities. For years CARD has sent millions to CalPERS for its crazy pensions that should have gone for maintenance, programs and new facilities. And this is happening in large part because board members such as Tom Lando receive ever increasing six figure pensions. In fact, Lando put up $6,000 to pass Measure L(ando)! TALK ABOUT A CONFLICT OF INTEREST! THIS SHOULD BE ILLEGAL!

When it comes to unfunded liabilities the City of Chico is in far worse shape than CARD. And even if the voters are stupid enough to pass their sales tax increase they will still send tax money that should go for roads and other essentials to CalPERS so bureaucrats can retire in their fifties with pensions worth multi-millions and Cadillac health plans.

VOTE NO ON THE CITY’S SALES TAX INCREASE IN NOVEMBER!

Taxpayers shouldn’t bear burden of pension deficit

Taxpayers shouldn’t bear burden of pension deficit | Letter

Chico Enterprise-Record
March 22, 2019

At the Feb. 27 Finance Committee meeting, City Manager Mark Orme said he has resisted revenue measures in the past, but that Chico’s current situation calls for a new tax to mitigate the impacts of the Camp Fire evacuation.

City staff has been calling for a tax increase since well before the Camp Fire. They wanted to tax our cell phones. Then they said garbage trucks were wrecking our streets and added a franchise fee to our rates. Long deferred street and park maintenance. Transients straining public safety agencies. Now it’s the evacuees.

But on Feb. 27, Orme finally acknowledged the “elephant in the room” — pensions. The city spends almost $20 million annually on pensions. About $8 million of that goes to the pension deficit.

Orme insisted staff has learned to “live within our means.” Really? The city manager’s base salary has gone from $192,000 to $207,500 since his hire, but his total pay is over $225,000, including perks such as a $400 per month car allowance. Tack on another $82,000 in pension and health benefits, including $18,000 for an IRC 457 (deferred compensation plan) added to his contract just last year.

Orme only pays 11 percent of his base salary for a pension of 70 percent of his highest year’s salary at age 60. This is how the deficit was created, the employees expect a lot but only want to contribute a fraction of the cost.

The question isn’t whether we need a new tax, but why the taxpayers should bear the burden of a pension deficit created by public employees.

— Juanita Sumner, Chico

Do they take us for fools?

Letters: Do they take us for fools?

Chico Enterprise-Record
August 27, 2019

Hats off to Juanita Sumner for shedding light on CARD’s tax increase measure. CARD has been considering a tax increase for years and has spent over $100,000 of our tax dollars on high priced consulting firms in an effort to get a tax increase measure on the ballot. One consulting firm they paid openly brags about its ability to help get tax increases passed. Yet CARD’s attorney claims these consulting firms are merely involved in informational surveys. Only a fool would believe that.

The fact is that CARD, like the rest of local government, has made unsustainable compensation promises to its employees, especially regarding pensions. These promises are devouring money that should be going for infrastructure. Like CARD, the City Council has used our tax dollars to hire a high priced consulting firm for a proposed tax increase. The push for tax increases from our local government is all about unfunded liabilities that are unsustainable.

Without true reform we will face endless rounds of tax increases in a futile effort to fund unsustainable liabilities. Scores of cities and counties raised taxes in the last several years and not one has solved their unfunded liabilities problem. All passage of the latest round of proposed tax increases will do is kick the can down the road a couple of election cycles, but our local politicians and bureaucrats will never admit this.

Will the people be fooled? We will find out next March when CARD’s tax increase will be on the ballot.

— Dave Howell, Chico

Offer a skating rink, get a tax increase

Letter: Offer a skating rink, get a tax increase

Chico Enterprise-Record
October 15, 2019

At a morning meeting downtown, Public Works staffer Brendan Ottoboni stated there is no more money to maintain or fix city streets. He said streets that had been on the repairs list for years were being taken off due to lack of funds.

So why would Ottoboni propose an ice skating rink on “Chico Engaged!”?

Look at the agenda for Council’s 10/15 meeting — (the) council will discuss giving management employees a raise while putting a one cent sales tax measure on the Nov. 2020 ballot. When a city doesn’t even have the money to perform the most basic services, why even consider giving raises to people already making four times the median income?

Chico has over $138 million in pension liability. Staff recently established the completely restricted “Pension Stabilization Trust” and this year have transferred over $1.2 million from other funds into the PST. Employees pay 15% or less of “their share,” paying nothing toward the PST. The sales tax increase, a simple majority measure requiring only 51% voter approval, will go into the general fund, available for salaries, benefits, and the PST.

Tax measures are being proposed all over California to fund pension packages that were never approved by voters, made by elected officials who receive donations and other political support from employee unions. The taxpayers even pay for the consultants who guarantee to get the measure passed.

Coincidentally, a tax measure consultant told City of Chico Finance Committee, “We offered them (Heavenly Valley) a skating rink …” and the measure passed.

— Juanita Sumner, Chico

Don’t fall for the city council’s tax increase lie

Letter: Don’t fall for the city council’s tax increase lie

Chico Enterprise-Record
April 29, 2019

In FY 2017-18 city revenues grew 7.4%. Director Dowell told the city council revenue growth is expected to continue. Yet Director Orme said the city has a revenue problem that requires tax increases. Despite increased revenue the city’s infrastructure continues to crumble.

Mayor Stone tells us city employee compensation costs will double in less than 10 years and CalPERs will devour 25% of the city’s budget by 2023. (And that assumes an unrealistically high CalPERS 7% return rate.) Stone admits this is unsustainable.

The obvious answer: pension reform.

Instead the city council is giving tens of thousands of your tax dollars to a PR firm to sell you a tax increase. Their pitch will be that the money is necessary to fund infrastructure and public safety. That’s a lie. It’s necessary because for years the city has put unrealistic pension promises ahead of everything else and the city council has no intention of changing that.

Other cities in California have taken the same approach. Instead of fixing the problem the result has been demands for even higher taxes.

Initial estimates indicate the city council’s tax increase would cost a family of four an extra $1200 a year. This in a county with a 21% poverty rate where city bureaucrats have pensions worth millions. It’s unconscionable.

This is how democracy fails. The people need to let the city’s politicians know loudly and clearly this will not be tolerated. Email debbie.presson@chicoca.gov to voice your disapproval to the entire council.

— Dave Howell, Chico