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!

Measure A Omissions, Half-Truths and Falsehoods

If Measure A passes CARD will take on $36 million in new debt and two of every three dollars of the new tax will be spent on debt service. CARD failed to mention this in the ballot measure. Don’t voters have a right to know this before they vote themselves a permanent tax that increases every year?

In his pro-Measure A argument in the Chico ER police officer Jim Parrott tells us the state, not CARD, created the unfunded liabilities. This is not only untrue, it’s absurd and it’s particularly disturbing coming from someone sworn to uphold the law and tell the truth. It wasn’t the State of California or CalPERS that approved the contracts that resulted in the unfunded liabilities. It was CARD’s board. And to this day the Chico ER has not set the record straight on Parrott’s untrue statement.

Moreover, one of CARD’s board members who put up $6,000 to pass Measure A receives a six figure pension from CalPERS and has every incentive to insure money that CARD should spend on maintenance, programs and new facilities continues to get diverted to CalPERS so CalPERS stays afloat. There ought to be a law that prevents such a conflict of interest.

Despite what CARD and its supporters state there is no guarantee how the money is spent. In the ballot measure no amount is dedicated to any project and CARD uses conditional words such as unless and intends.

It would be foolish for voters to approve a measure backed by over $60,0000 from special interests that would result in a regressive, permanent, perpetually increasing new tax and tens of millions in new debt from a governmental agency whose leaders and supporters do not tell voters the truth. And it’s shameful the local media does not set the record straight.

Stop CARD’s Measure A Tax!

Stop CARD’s new tax – Measure A! Click the link HERE to get the No On Measure A Flyer and distribute it to everyone you know! This flyer contains important information you NEED TO KNOW about this bad new tax.

And remember, this new tax does nothing to reform CARD’s unfunded liability problem so even if this measure passes CARD will be back for more tax increases and fee increases, especially with the large amount of new debt CARD will be taking on.

No On Measure A and the City’s Sales Tax Increase In Nov

CARD’s Measure A parcel tax is regressive, increases every year and has no sunset.  Shamelessly, CARD failed to mention in the ballot measure that it plans to take on $36 million in new debt if it passes, and two of every three dollars of this new tax will be spent on debt service.

Since 2013 CARD’s revenue has increased over 40%, yet CARD has failed to maintain its facilities and tells us it needs millions more every year from the community. For years money that should have been spent by CARD on maintenance, programs and new facilities was spent on spiraling employee costs, primarily pension and other post-employment benefits (OPEB). Incredibly, CARD uses this diversion of funds as justification for voter trust by stating in the voter information guide that it has an aggressive payment schedule for unfunded liabilities, and it does. For instance, last year CARD made an additional payment of $728,247 toward its CalPERS unfunded accrued liability. But CARD doesn’t mention that these additional payments are at the expense of everything else. One example is the closure of Shapiro Pool after it fell into disrepair.

CARD’s fiscal peril isn’t unique. Municipalities throughout the state face unsustainable pension and OPEB costs. (See https://tinyurl.com/costs99 ) The city of Chico is in even worse shape than CARD. The Chico City Council’s response is to put a sales tax increase on the November ballot that if passed will result in hundreds of millions in new debt.

Tax increases and more debt will only postpone the problem a few election cycles when more tax increases will be demanded. Scores of municipalities across the state raised taxes over the last decade, and some cities now have sales taxes over 10 percent. Even with tax increases and huge gains in financial markets over the last decade no municipality has solved its unfunded pension and OPEB liability problem. And when the next recession inevitably occurs and the markets tank the problem will be far worse.

The solution is to reform these liabilities, but special interests won’t tolerate that, which is why they have raised over $60,000 to pass the regressive, permanent, perpetually increasing tax that is Measure A and will burden us with tens of millions in new debt. Instead, we must stand up to special interests and demand reform. We can start by voting no on Measure A and the sales tax increase measure in November.

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

Why are we paying people to raise our taxes?

Letter: Why are we paying people to raise our taxes?

Chico Enterprise-Record
February 28, 2019

Last month the Fair Political Practices Commission revealed 34 allegations made since 2015 concerning public agencies misusing taxpayer funds for campaign purposes. Unfortunately, the agency lacks the authority to prosecute misuse of public funds, a power reserved for city and county prosecutors and the state attorney general.

Apparently, no local law enforcement agency has followed through on any of the allegations, prompting the FPPC to ask the state for the power to prosecute in these matters.

Does anyone really believe that a local district attorney or city attorney would prosecute a public agency for raising taxes? FPPC commissioner Brian Hatch calls that “political suicide.”

Both the city of Chico and Chico Area Recreation District continue to spend taxpayer money on consultants who promise to help them pass their separate tax measures. Their consultant, EMC Research, claims “Great campaigns don’t just happen. That’s why we offer a full suite of political research and predictive analytics to help your candidates, organizations, and ballot measures succeed.”

Is this why you pay taxes? To hire people to raise your taxes?

Contact FPPC Chair Alice Germond and tell her you support her efforts to impose stiffer penalties on those public agencies who flaunt the law and continue to undermine voters’ rights across the state. You might also want to contact Chico city council at debbie.presson@chicoca.gov and the CARD board at annw@chicorec.com and let them know how you feel about paying for their campaigns to raise your taxes.

— Juanita Sumner, Chico