Letters To The Editor: I have only seen letters in this newspaper supporting the utility tax increase lately, so I'm hoping I can offer a different viewpoint.
I am NOT in favor of another tax increase especially when no one has been able to articulate where the last increase in money was spent. How much of our water problem was fixed with the money that was "needed" in the past. We have lost the wonderful Sierra Madre water we had.
I don't see a real effort to tighter the belt in the running of the city. As I have recently downsized in order to retire, I am very aware that a good look at a budget can make a difference. Our present government seems to be of the thought that we can keep the "status quo" by just asking for more money once in a while.
The last straw for me was a vote at the City Council to cap Sierra Madre's commercial business utility taxes to $400 a year for water and sewer! So, basically, to heck with the residents, they can pay extra.
How does this encourage smart use of water in a drought year by a business? I understand that the mantra for this is to encourage business to come to Sierra Madre, but doing this on the backs of residents is not what we voted for in the past. And really, did anyone EVER more to Sierra Madre for the business?
K. Hood, Sierra Madre
Mayor John Harabedian?
(Mod: A recent Los Angeles Daily News article reprinted in the Pasadena Stars News called "Los Angeles County mayors gather to talk jobs, drought" - link - had an interesting moment. Whether it was a mistake or not is hard to tell since my calls to the reporter responsible have not been answered. However, judging by this article, John Harabedian may have assumed the right to an early seat in the still occupied throne of Mayor Nancy Walsh.)
All the sessions, held in small conference rooms on City Hall’s 10th floor, were closed to the press.
But after the meetings concluded, L.A. County reps chatted up reporters. Torrance City Councilman Kurt Weideman said he learned about countywide earthquake precautions, and intended to look at possibly retrofitting structures. “I have to know if all my buildings are safe,” Weideman said.
Sierra Madre Mayor John Harabedian attended a session on water, and learned new ways to capture rainwater, he said. Sierra Madre is so impacted by the drought that it is currently importing all its water, he said.
“We talked a lot about sustainability, and how to work together as a region,” Harabedian said.
(Mod: Hopefully in that closed door session the meaning of the term "sustainability" was finally revealed. Though obviously it must be kept a secret.)
John Capoccia airbrushes the inconvenient 2012 vote of the people
(Mod: One of the more disturbing aspects of City Hall's attempts to win a do-over vote on our utility taxes is its Orwellian refusal to acknowledge that the people turned down a so-called extension by over 60% of the vote in 2012. The irony here being that it was John Capoccia who not only championed voting against that year's UUT initiative, but also rode the popular anger over Sierra Madre having the highest utility taxes in California to a seat on the City Council. Here is how he tap dances around that inconvenient 2012 vote in this week's Looney Views News.)
But first, a little more background: Measure U, when approved by the voters in 2008, specified that the UUT would be raised in three steps in three consecutive years – to 8% in 2008, 10% in 2009, and 12% in 2010. Measure U was accompanied by a companion Measure UA, which called for a non-binding recommendation that the increase in UUT be used only for public safety. Prior to what would have been an increase to 12% increase in 2010, the City Council voted to suspend the increase, and keep the UUT at 10%. They also further reduced the rate to 9% for water and sewer, to avoid creating a windfall as a result of imminent water rate hikes. UUT revenue has been fairly level since. From the time Measure U passed, the increased expenditures for public safety have exceeded the revenue provided by Measure U. This has been verified annually by the UUT Advisory Committee, and documented in our audited Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR). The difference was made up by belt-tightening in the General Fund.
(Mod: Apparently even for one of the chief architects in the campaign to finally end the excesses of 2008's Measure U in April of 2012, that vote no longer exists.)