Friday, November 11, 2011

Sierra Madre's Utility User Tax Rates Are Already Amongst The Highest In California

There was a bit of a debate about our UUT tax rate Tuesday evening between MaryAnn MacGillivray and an obviously well rehearsed Team G4-1. Because of the Sunset Clause wisely attached to the first version, MaryAnn is in favor of putting Measure U back on the ballot next April because, in her opinion, our status as a full-service city would be in serious jeopardy if we did not. However, she also claimed that this tax should be capped at 10%, and that if any cuts needed to be made to facilitate this, so be it. We do need to live within our means, particularly in times as tough as these.

This triggered an interesting reaction amongst the Bobbleheads. With their Pavlovian "If MaryAnn is for it I am against it" cues all firmly in place, they began to chatter about a 12% UUT rate as being not just acceptable, but also something that we, as the people who would actually pay it, should be happy about. Josh Moran going so far as proclaim that we should be glad to pay it in exchange "for all that this City gives back to us." An odd way of looking at things in my opinion. Since when should people be expected to express excess gratitude for services that they are already paying money to receive?

This is not a viewpoint that I am particularly comfortable with. I thought that paying tribute money to governments went out of style in this part of the world around the time George Washington was President.

I also found this to be a very curious way for them to announce that they intend to not only raise our taxes, but be happy doing it as well. And while it is nice of them to let us know something this important before an election for a change, usually they are not so revealing about their real intentions. Should we take this as an indication that the Sierra Madre Police Officers Association negotiations are not going as well as we'd all hoped?

And then there is this other problem. As we discussed in a post on this site back on October 11 (which was the same day Joe Mosca announced his plans to leave the country, and therefore kind of got buried in all the celebrating), at 10% Sierra Madre is paying just about the highest UUT rate in the State of California.

The chart just to the right can be better seen by clicking here and then scrolling down a little. What this graph shows is how each of the 146 cities paying a UUT stack up with the rest. As you will see, most cities are somewhere in the three to six percent range. However, if you look all the way to the right you can see how many cities are paying our current 10% rate. There are only two cities in that category. One is Sierra Madre, the other is, believe it or not, the City of Bell.

However, and as I am certain you will be relieved to know, Bell only pays a UUT on about half of the categories that we are paying. Which on a percentage basis makes us the #1 UUT rate paying city in all of California. Congratulations, and go enjoy your services.

You might also note that on this graph there is no 12% category. So if we should have our UUT rate increased to that lofty level, we would literally be "off the chart."

The source for this information is something called the California City Finance Utility User Tax Facts Report. It has lots of interesting UUT facts, all of which point to our being way out of line with what the rest of the state is paying in Utility Taxes. Again, you can check it out by clicking here. And to track the UUT rates that other California cities are paying you should click here.

Of passing note, today's date is 11.11.11. Which does have quite a nice symmetry to it. And while I am certainly superstitious, I do not find much more significance in it than that. But drive carefully anyway. It is always good to be cautious.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

64 comments:

  1. Tattler should carry one of these to every Council MeetingNovember 11, 2011 at 6:02 AM

    Ring the little BELL (as in City of...) everytime the gang of 4 or staff lies about our taxes or anything else for that matter! DING




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  2. Is there any way that we can have October 11 proclaimed a city holiday?

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  3. I don't know if city holiday would be appropriate since they have so many days off already. How about a day of thanksgiving and rejoicing instead?

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  4. John Buchanan and Josh Moran kept telling us at the last council meeting, "we've made all the CUTS we possibly can make"

    I have one question.
    WHERE'S THE CUTS? Seems we have added to city staff and hired more consultants and wasted more money than we should have.
    Again, Buchanan....Where are the cuts?
    Demand the gang of 4 answer this question, please?

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  5. I guess transporting half of City Hall to San Francisco for a 3 day League of California Cities meeting was too important to be cut. Better to concentrate on things like after school child care.

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  6. What? 7:05 am?????

    Who in the devil runs Sierra Madre, the damn development favoring organizations like League of California Cities and SCAG?

    How about taking back Sierra Madre, Tattlers?
    Enough is enough.

    Where are the cuts? Name any significant?

    In yet the Buchanan and bobblehead gang want to raise our UUT?

    When are the citizens of Sierra Madre going to stand up and fight this?

    We need to hire an attorney...MaryAnn MacGillivray is trying her best to fight for us, but she needs some help.

    By the way, does anyone else suspect Buchanan and the bobbleheads of violating the Brown Act?
    I do.

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  7. The next outrage will be Buchanan, Walsh and Moran claiming that they need the UUT tax hike to keep Sierra Madre's property values up.
    This is the LUCIFERIC INVERSION -(turning truth into falshood).
    "it's not Measure V that saved our property values", it's our tax hikes"

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  8. It's the same old story brought to us by Bart Doyle when he was the august mayor of this here town. You simply make it impossible for the current residents to meet the financial obligations of keeping the town solvent, then these poor underclasses will move out, the building industry will move in, festoon Sierra Madre from one end to the other with McMansions and Bart and his clan can pick up and move to visit his Swiss bank account. Bart and his puppets have been pulling this stunt for decades now. Let's see if we can stop them.

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  9. Can any one tell me which services are worth our having to pay a UUT rate 2 percent higher than any other city in California?

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  10. Back when Bart walked the streets in daylight his kids went to Gooden School. One wonders how his interest in public schools has been sustained all of these years when his career has been in the real estate development and building industry. Oh, right! Public funds for schools. Draws like flies to carrion.

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  11. Bond money is what draws the Bartlings to the PUSD. The kids are just there as human shields.

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  12. Correct me if I'm wrong... wasn't the UUT voted in for police and fire life safety funding? I could swear the conversation at the dais made it seem like a big old open bag of general fund money.

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  13. It's all MaryAnn's fault, 7:43. She forced them to think and they came up empty.

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  14. Tuesday evening the PUSD Board of Ed caught an earful from angry parents over poor academic performance and rampant racial animosity. Fine work our boys are doing.

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  15. Bart Doyle has been bullshi***g the downtown investors group for years. He's nothing but a sleazy politician that is now in deep sh*t with the City of El Monte and the federal authorities.
    . so what does the sleazy gang do?

    I'l share a comment from a very sharp friend on the subject:
    "Putting him on that committee is a slap in the face to PUSD but in the grand scheme of things, it does nothing either for him or the school district. He's just a creep and they've given him somewhere to land for awhile. Hopefully the rest of the committee will check their wallets after he's been with them at the meetings".

    Why anyone would want to associate with Bart Doyle is beyond belief.

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  16. So what kind of cuts are you prepared for?
    Careful, sacred cows ahead.....

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  17. Keep in mind the public only advised the council that the UUT be used for safety. This was never binding and will not be binding in the future. In the future, should any council wish to use the money for other uses it is perfectly legal. Allowing the cap to go to 12% will only make more money available to the council for what ever they want. They want to send the other 2% on nonsense. (ie trips etc) Since the police know it can go to 12% it gives them the upper hand in all negotiations. They know how much they can get. If the city needs money then they should do something about pensions. NO on UUT 6% is enough.

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  18. John Buchanan said that the reason he felt it was urgent to get the UUT on the ballot for next April was in case the voters turned it down, there would still be a chance of getting it approved in the following election. Which kind of makes April 10 a chance for a protest vote on Measure U and high taxes in general. Since they'll only run it again if they don't get the result they want, why not vote no?

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  19. Did you know it is not a Brown act violation if a private citizen talks to Walsh, Buchanan, and Moran individually and doesn't tell the others what was said. In that way orders/instructions can be totally legal. It is no different than someone writing all of the Senators and saying the same thing.

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  20. So, you're saying 8:04 am, that if Buchanan, Mosca, Moran and Walsh have been informed separately by Bart Doyle over these last few years it was not a Brown Act violation because the Council members were not talking together but separately through a private citizen? Explains a lot.

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  21. The high taxes crowd will go around scaring people - you'll lose the paramedics and die! - you'll lose the library and we will all become illiterates and die! - vote for more taxes or you'll die! - but not a peep about downsizing city hall.

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  22. Instead of exploding water pipes to impress upon us the urgency of a water rate increase, we'll see exploding City staff just to make a point? I can live with that.

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  23. I remember a grouchy old man who used to live on Fairview telling anyone who would listen not to let the city council charge a 6% tax on utilities. He was certain the tax would never go away no matter what the council said, or how ardently they promised it was only temporary. You got that right, old grouch.

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  24. Get ready for the dog and pony shows. The Citizens Committees On Whats and Whatevers will soon be deliberating their ways to preordained conclusions.

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  25. Works for me, 8:11 am

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  26. I am fed up with the saying it is just a little more. The price of a cup of coffee...aren't the kids worth it?, only $40 a month more safety. Blah blah blah. Take a look at your pay stub, property tax bill and your utility bills. Yeah the low income get a break, but what about the rest of us that have to continue to cut and cut and cut. It's only a little more than last year. Remember that big raise you got. LOL
    NO ON UUT.

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  27. Josh said the UUT was only a few dollars more. He also said that about the water rate hike. He also said it about Measure CC. Like a broken record this guy.

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  28. Yeah, I can just hear Josh talking to a senior and writing a big loan saying it's only 12%.

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  29. The G3 Shell Game.

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  30. 8:19 Good post.

    However, these things don't seem to bother Josh Moron, Nancy Walsh or John Buchanan or the city staff.

    Only Mrs. MacGillivray seems concerned.

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  31. What's wrong with Nancy Walsh?
    She makes horrible faces and gestures at the council meetings.
    Someone who is often at the meetings has actually heard her making strange "noices".
    Is she all there?

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  32. We are taxed to death. What about the people in this town that do not benefit from the over inflated services. 36 police officers in a town of 10,000. If we need that many cops to control us why does anyone want to live here, we must be a much of convicts. This is really the city of waste. There is no belt tightening, just spend and hire. We need to cut back not hire more and the ones we do hire should be hired to do their job. We let the City Manager hire at will. If a job is too taxing, meaning actually doing what their job requires, she hires one more person to help them accomplish the task. We should all want to be on the payroll in our town. The City is only open one more Friday to the end of the year, than give them a raise. We are being fleeced.
    The best thing that can happen is that because of the Troll the Feds come to Sierra Madre and clean our house because we have not been able too.

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  33. Ok guys today's article is very informative and yet most of the comments are about Doyle and Brown act violations. I would love to hear your ideas about this outrageous tax and how we can defeat it. Great post 8:45 Diaz will tell us that crime is up and that is why we need more cops. No it's not. The cops are just ticketing more people for washing down streets and shooting people in the butt.

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  34. There are many people who are hard working who make a small amount over the low income level.

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  35. How about if we reconfigure the library services?
    Put the online computers at the YAC, have the children's library and stories in that mostly unused big space, recognize that brick and mortar libraries will soon be obsolete.

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  36. Correct me if i'm wrong, but I remember reading somewhere, that 53% of the budget goes to SMPD. Why? So they can zoom around town code 3. I recently saw a woman walking down my street, stopped by a cruiser, within minutes, three more cop cars showed up, including the police chief. They cuffed the woman and drove away with her. Looked to me to be a cleaning lady walking to a bus stop... Four cop cars???
    What's involved in starting a recall of the CC members?

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  37. 9:08 - thank you. A citizens committee empowered to go through every book and ledger this city has. With an outside accountant for help. No one currently working for the city should be a part of this process.

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  38. 9:28 and 9:08

    Yes, additionally, no one associated with Bart Doyle in any way shape or form should allowed to be on any "citizens committee"
    We need to get rid of the Doyle creeps and get a new council, one that will make cuts and spend our money on something important, such as the FORENSIC AUDIT, Kurt Zimmerman tried in vain to get us to do.
    We should have done it. Mistake.

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  39. A citizens' audit.

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  40. Just in case you forgot ...

    The UUT was intended to be a stop-gap measure to address a million dollar deficit.

    It was never intended to be a permanent tax increase; that's why Kurt Zimmerman, the best Mayor we ever had, demanded a sunset clause.

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  41. The original 6% UUT was sold as a stopgasp measure that wouldn't be needed after a while. Now there;s a laugh.

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  42. 9:18, "What's involved in starting a recall of the CC members?" The first and for my money the most important thing is the person or people who are willing to take the organizational responsibilities on. That's where it starts and how it moves forward successfully.

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  43. 10:19 - I've lived in town for 35 years. I've always paid attention to CC meetings, and have voted in all local elections. I couldn't agree with you more. Kurt Zimmerman was great.

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  44. If there is ever a NEXT time you are offered a chance to vote for a TAX.Don"t..Be smart and Make your elected politicians take that responsibility ..Never never Vote for taxes!!!!

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  45. It seems obvious to me that what we have now is the worst City Council we have ever had. Nothing is above board, or even makes much sense.

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  46. Leaders with unlimited time and energy are always welcomed, 9:18.

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  47. Teeny weeny Sierra Madre has the highest UTT in the STATE!Does this make sense?Oh yeah,I know,we have a bunch of CROOKS running or is it ruining this town!

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  48. We are getting ripped off on trash collection.
    People in the county area of Pasadena pay $44.00 for 3 months and no UUT.

    Make sure you have your cell phone bill go to your work address if possible. Most cities don't charge a cell phone UUT or it's lower. The city was jumping for joy because of all the new data plans people have added.

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  49. 9:18 Check the state code and with the city clerk.
    Make sure you have about a grand to cover the legal publishing in the Mountain Views News.

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  50. Of course the city needs more of our money. They need the money to pay their lawyers to take away our rights.

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  51. I wonder if we paid Harriet Susan Henderson a grand, if she would pay her cleaning lady the $700 she owes her for the past several years!
    Not a chance. Show me anyone Harri S. has ever paid.

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  52. UUT? Water rates? Bonds? All those nickels and dimes add up.

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  53. i urge my fellow hippie sierra madreans to vote against any tax increase until we address spending. in particular, the in excess of 50% of the general fund we apply to the police department. the gentry in la canada do just fine with the LASD. we hippies (who have even less crime than the la canadans do) will do so as well.

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  54. No more taxes, no on the higher percentage UUT renewal (what is happening with the money they are collecting, REALLY??!), no on ALF and YES on recall of Moran and Walsh. The city needs to tighten its belt a little (no more consultants, Buchanan - what do city staff get paid to do if they're not doing their jobs well enough that an exorbitantly expensive consultant is required?). The G4-1 have been engaging in a strategy that was started even before Bart Doyle's time - taxing the lower classes out of local residency while concurrently bankrupting the city (spend, spend, spend...) so that developers can ride in on their big white horses to save the day with their big dollars. We're being sold out from both ends.

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  55. Since so little of what we have heard out of City hall for the last year or so has been true, why should we believe them about the UUT? I will vote no. I cannot be treated like I have and then asked for my money.

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  56. Buchanan: You will die without the paramedics.
    God: Doesn't matter. You are going to die with or without the paramedics.

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  57. 2:35 - a little 60s/70s might be just what we need right now.

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  58. Always vote NO on TAX INCREASES. ALWAYS!!!!!!
    Politicians will just waste your money.
    They are not good stewards of our assets,with very few exceptions.
    We want only fiscal conservatives on our city council. Anything else doesn't work well here.

    John Buchanan, Josh Moran, Nancy Walsh,& all Bart Doyle followers are NOT EVER-fiscal conservatives. They don't belong handling our tax dollars. Not now, not ever. Their policies always lead to failure. They ALL work for special interests not for you.

    Kurt Zimmerman and Don Watts and MaryAnn MacGillivray, all fiscal Conservatives took far better care of our money.

    Wake up Sierra Madre. Vote as you wish in State and National Elections, but vote for Fiscal Conservatives in Sierra Madre. It is not in your best interest to do otherwise.

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  59. City council!
    Make the cuts, real cuts and then ask us again in another 2 years if you still need the money.
    You report honestly and we'll be fair.
    Otherwise, as of now, you haven't been honest, you haven't been fair. So.......
    NO DEAL.....NO NEW TAXES

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  60. We have reached the "Peter Principle" of City Government. All People and Activity reach a level of incompetence and financial stress that brings that City to its knees. Too many Executives, Staff, @ too high compensation with suport services way too many and expensive for a City of 12,000 residents. Sierra Madre is so out of balance with reality it boggles the mind. When will the City Manager and Council declare an emergency and start a process to cut financial expenses to match financial resources?
    We are in a serious financial crisis.

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  61. Our city government has gotten too big, too controlled by Sacramento.
    5:28 makes sense.

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  62. What 8:08 describes is a rolling Brown Act violation and it is a VIOLATION!
    We need to sue these guys!

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  63. 6:08
    Sorry. I can go to every member of the Council and ask them to plant daisies in front of City Hall and if I don't tell them what the other said there is no Brown Act Violation. If the majority say yes or no it is no violation. What you are thinking of is if I pass on what the others said, it is a Brown Act violation. In all reality they all talk on the phone.

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  64. 8:08
    Individual contacts or communications between a member of a legislative body and any other person are specifically exempt from the definition of a meeting. (§ 54952.2(c)(1).) The purpose of this exception appears to be to protect the constitutional rights of individuals to contact their government representatives regarding issues which concern them.

    http://ag.ca.gov/publications/2003_Main_BrownAct.pdf

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