Tax Increases Are Coming to Chico in 2020

Both the City of Chico and CARD are pushing tax increases for 2020. Here you will find the truth about these tax increases that the corrupt politicians and bureaucrats don’t want you to know and that the media so often ignores.

Stop CARD’s new tax! Click the link HERE to get the No On Measure A Flyer!

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.

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

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

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