Monday, March 31, 2014

Why Pat Alcorn Is Changing Her Vote On Measure UUT

-
(Mod: If you had been watching City Council meetings over the past few months, you could have witnessed Pat Alcorn stepping up to the podium during public comment and speaking about why she planned to cast a "Yes" vote for Measure UUT. However, as more facts started to come out, Pat began to question her support for increasing Sierra Madre's utility user tax rates ... We are reprinting the letter Pat published this weekend in the Mountain Views News, a print medium with a readership in Sierra Madre that many believe has now fallen to less than 300 people. Her letter deserves a wider readership, and we felt we needed to do our part.)

I am asking the citizens to Vote NO on the current UUT measure on the ballot. I have spoken out at City Council Meetings expressing my opinion to extend the 10% Utility Tax was the way to go to help maintain the budget of Sierra Madre services.

I have since changed my mind after reviewing facts, figures, and the Sierra Madre budget.  I believe that the City of Sierra Madre can sustain all of the current services and activities without the extension (which is essentially a tax raise) and still operate at its current level.  

Here is why:

The sunset clause will not occur until July 1, 2015.  That means on July 1st 2015, the rate will go down to 8% -- more than a year from now.
In the meantime, Edison, The Gas Co. and the Sierra Madre Water Department have raised their rates (water rates will increase 61% over the next five years) which will bring in additional revenue from UUT taxes.
Sierra Madre property taxes rise from one year to the next, and nothing in the horizon tells us that the City will not gain additional property tax revenue.
There are new businesses coming to town which will help increase our sales tax base.
On July 1, 2016 the UUT rate is scheduled to be reduced to 6%.  This is what the administration calculated to be the figure in 2008, and was confirmed by the Citizens by a vote in 2012.

I am Chairman of the Community Services Commission and am President of the Friends of the Library. I’m not speaking for either organization but as a concerned citizen. Would I like to see services of either the Library or Community Services suffer because of a lack of funds?  Of course not.  My heart and volunteer efforts have always gone to enhance the quality of life of Sierra Madre Citizens.

I have seen nothing in the figures that will compromise the police, paramedics, fire, library, public works or community services.  And, in the worst case scenario, another vote can always come up in 2016 to either hold the line at 8% or some other figure.

I urge the citizens of Sierra Madre to vote NO on the tax increase of the UUT.

Sincerely, Pat Alcorn

(Mod: John Lewis is one of two CPAs who came to the podium last Tuesday evening to speak out against the stiff utility tax increases that are part and parcel to Measure UUT. His "simple math" approach to the otherwise overwrought and highly political mess handed to us by City Hall is a breath of fresh air.)

My name is John Lewis and I am a resident of Sierra Madre ...  I am also a CPA and co-author of the NO on UUT tax argument.  I'd like to take just a moment to share with you a couple of quick thoughts about the tax increase.

I am not here to argue for lower revenue for the city, but I am here to argue for common sense and simple math.

Revenue that a government derives out of a particular tax is a function of two things: the tax rate and the tax base.  in this case, as we all known the tax base is our utility bills, and I think we are all painfully aware already that our water rates, which dominate our utility bills, have begun to increase and will continue to increase through next July to a total of more than 50%. 

That means the tax base against which the tax is assessed will be substantially larger than it has been.  What that means is, that based on simple math, it is highly unlikely that to allow the UUT rate to reduce as previously agreed will result in a lower total revenue to the city.

I think, as a result, arguments that the UUT rate and its scheduled decline will result in risk to the city's basic services are at best silly, and at worst deceptive. Thank you.

(Mod: John Capoccia has now written a three part "War & Peace" sized tome on the Measure UUT controversy. If brevity is the soul of wit, then John has written something quite different. He certainly does try hard to conflate city employee benefits with salaries. Apples, oranges, and maybe bok choy were not spared in the concocting of this special brew. But just below is my favorite part.)

The total compensation we offer our employees is far less that our neighbors (don't take my word for it, I invite you to peruse the "Transparent California" website to do your own comparisons - call me and tell me what you find!) Sierra Madre offers its employees a total compensation package that is merely sufficient to retain and recruit competent employees. 

(Mod: What other cities pay their employees should have little influence on what we have to offer. There is no bigger story in California these days than how badly government employees are being overcompensated, with some cities actually going into bankruptcy because of it. To me that is a race we should have backed out of 15 years ago … But since Councilmember Capoccia did mention Transparent California, I do have a chart here from them that I can share with you. The numbers highlighted in pink represent some of the highest health plan costs in the state. I guess to go along with our highest utility taxes in the state.)


(Mod: So let me ask you this. These "low" salaries that John Capoccia speaks of are listed above. If these jobs were put on the market and people invited to interview for them, how long do you think the line of applicants would be? Maybe from City Hall all the way over to Michillinda? … I really don't see why we have to offer the highest priced health benefits in the state in hopes that somebody won't pack up their pocket protector and head for a new job in, say, Asuza. Let them go. Give the job to someone who'd appreciate it. How about somebody who actually lives in Sierra Madre, and likes being here?)

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

60 comments:

  1. I want to thank Pat Alcorn and John Lewis for so clearly stating the facts of the UUT matter. I hope others will find their way out of the emotional morass created by the "yes" on UUT folks. Add up all the UUT tax you paid last year, and add to it an additional $250.00 to that because if this tax increases passes, that is what you will be sending off to city hall. Frankly, that's a lot of lattes.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "as the facts come out"

      in other words, the city manager and a few choice Councilmembers (past and present) are fudging on the truth and not actually being factual and honest with us and if it weren't for the Tattler and others the only facts we would hear would be the falsehoods being spread around now

      as in the immortal words of Gomer Pyle, "surprise...surprise...surprise"

      Delete
    2. City Hall should have a drive thru window. Because then you could be asked, "Do you want some fries with our lies?"

      Delete
  2. You need qualified people at city hall to collect all the tax money it takes to keep them here.

    ReplyDelete
  3. As an officially adjudicated city newspaper, The Sue's Views News is required by law to provide statistics that are proof of legally adequate circulation. Yet we never see that. Why has City Hall let Susan off the hook on this?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kurt Zimmerman tried to do that and got stalled by the City Manager

      I still haven't heard a reason why the legal notices can't be published online

      Reeks of fraud and that's Susans favorite perfume

      Delete
    2. We have a right to know the real Looney Views News circulation numbers! Our tax money sustains it.

      Delete
  4. Why do we pay so much for incompetency?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. According to Councilmember Capoccia, if we didn't they'd leave.

      Delete
    2. and there would be a line a mile long to replace them all

      plenty of labor out there and especially with the city manager position

      Delete
  5. so an article in today' Star News on LA water dept. employee health benefits state that the average "spent on DWP employee's health care and dental costs in calendar year 2013 was $17,583 per employee.". "By contrast, the average spent on a civilian employee was $11,152., the city's personnel department said.". (section A page 6 - Health) Tell me again about our under compensated employees, Mr. Capoccia.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Apparently the most expensive city government health care package in California costs $37,815, and it is for someone in our water department. Perhaps Mr. Capoccia is concerned that we might lose first place.

      Delete
    2. Good thing the water rate increases went through!

      Delete
    3. Stunned they didn't con the bumpkins for more! They are on a roll.

      Delete
    4. A $37,815 health care plan is what happens when city hall has too much money.

      Delete
  6. Too bad we didn't elect Pat Alcorn to City Council four years ago, and got Nancy "I can take you (volunteers) out" Walsh instead. Who wants to ask John Lewis to run for City Council in two years?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I can't believe that we will be stuck with either Goss or Green for 4 years - neither deserve any term

      There should be a 2 year term for Councilmembers - too much wasted time on the Council

      Delete
    2. Kind of fits into that "life sucks and then the city dies" category.

      Delete
    3. We could be stuck with both Goss and Green.

      Delete
    4. A vision of Hell.

      Delete
  7. At the April 22nd City Council meeting, just before the reorganization, Mayor Nancy Walsh will give a speech where she lists her successes while in office. Shouldn't take more than a minute.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. all she has to say is, "I have nothing to say"

      Delete
    2. Watch Nancy Walsh & Joshie Moran arm wrestle for credit for creation of the EENER commission. No credit will be taken for killing the Tree Commission.

      Delete
  8. Capoccia is following the classic union strategy when he compares salaries in Sierra Madre to other towns. The public employee unions have always used this argument. That's why every union hopes that a nearby city will achieve a "break-out" and set the new standard that all other cities are supposed to follow. That's how salaries and pensions keep leap-frogging ahead. All it takes is for one city to play fast and loose with the taxpayers money and then Sierra Madre is supposed to emulate that. This is also why all the different cities unions band together and support these runaway salaries and pension even when its not up for vote in their own city.. Consequently, the residents and hopefully their city council members are not just trying to holdi the line against their own city's unions, their is also union support from outside the city that hopes the new standard can be set. What a mess. To have Capoccia repeat this garage shows that he is looking out for them and not the residents who elected him. City employees only go out feet first. If they do leave, you have a line of applicants around the block. That tells you all you need to know about their level of compensation. But its never enough for greedy city employoees and their unions even to the point of bringing a city to bankruptcy.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We're a town of less than 11,000 people. We cannot afford to keep up with far larger cities without being taxed more.

      Delete
  9. Capoccia has become a shill for the unions. As soon as you start repeating the union line about comparing Sierra Madre salaries to other cities, you know where his loyalties lie. Try an experiment: don't increase any city employee's salary, benefit or pension for the next five years. I bet you won't see anybody walk out the door for the simple reason that they already have it so good. By some miracle, if someone does take a walk, reduce that position's overall compensation by 10%, and you will still have more qualified applicants than you can put in one room.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe this Capoccia is a pod. The John we knew in 2012 has been occupied by a plant.

      Delete
    2. like the SMPD comparing itself to the Pasadena PD or the LAPD

      comparing apples to squash

      Delete
    3. We're a very small city. We cannot be expected to foot the bill for City of Los Angeles style employment packages. Come to think of it, neither can Los Angeles.

      Delete
  10. I'm sorry, but I am confused. I thought we desperately needed this money to keep the police on the street and the library open. Now it sounds like we need this UUT increase to pay for health care and pension obligations. which is it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. those selling the library as the UUT are the ones confused

      or just lying

      Delete
    2. Capoccia said on Saturday we need to pay pensions. The UUT tax hikers have a reason for each day of the week. And we townies think its for cops and paramedics.

      Delete
    3. The city will use the money however they see fit. And you will have little say so about how that is done.

      Delete
    4. Their is always a hidden and real reason for a tax like the UUT. But it can't be stated because no one would support it. The fake reason is used to scare people into supporting a tax that is actually for the hidden reason. Can you imagine if the Yes on UUT people said that the reason for the tax is so that we don't have to cut all the waste, ineffeciency and bloated salaries, pensions and benefits out of the budget. That probably wouldn't garner too much support. Slashing paramedics, police, fire, library - now that certainly gives them a chance to fool and scare certain voters.

      Delete
    5. The UUT increase money will be used for whatever city hall wants to use it for. The contradictory messages are by design. To confuse and discourage participation by those actually paying those taxes.

      Delete
    6. wrong Mr. Cappocia, we don't "need" to pay pensions

      we "need" to fix the pensions and bring them back to reality

      it's absurd for the public sector to retire at 50, jack up their hours in the last couple years of their work so to increase their pension

      the pension should be based on the total work of the employee, not some fraud of maximizing hours and pay the last couple years to boost a pension

      me personally, I'd be fine with the public pension plans be bankrupt and those that are still of working age get back out in the workforce

      Delete
    7. Gosh, why not? It worked so well for Stockton and San Bernardino!

      Delete
    8. The UUT money goes into the big pot.
      First salaries, benefits, etc are paid.
      Whatever is left is used to pave the streets, library, etc.

      Cuts are always made where the public will notice them.
      Staff and benefits are the sacred cow so to speak.

      Delete
    9. It's called featherbedding. They're financing their own benefits and retirement, and telling us ridiculous stories to get the money.

      Delete
  11. Didn't Cappocia work for a public utility company?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. does he own stock in a utility company?

      Delete
    2. Capoccia is an AT&T retiree.

      Delete
    3. Can you hear me now?

      Delete
    4. makes sense, now I assume he's got an agenda

      why we keep electing utility company employees and real estate salespeople

      or 2nd rate lawyers?

      Delete
  12. FACT...

    1) City Hall has no warrants or invoices for the MWD water which the Sierra Madre Residents have been provided for the past 6+ months ?

    2) Is City Hall receiving this water for "FREE" ?

    3) and if so... why did City Hall increase the water & sewer rates by 161% and want to increase the UUT taxes by an additional 125%?

    $$$$$$ 161% + 125% equals 186% water and sewer rate increase...

    City hall must be swimming in money ...........

    4) The Arcadia Newspapers refer that Sierra Madre City Hall is or will be suing Arcadia for stealing - over pumping water which Sierra Madre states does not belong to Arcadia ?

    Anyone have any input ?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Read your Pasadena Star-News!

      http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/general-news/20140313/arcadia-sierra-madre-in-water-fight-over-raymond-basin-boundaries

      From 03/13/2014.

      Delete
  13. It took a few days to percolate but I recall during the last council election John Harabedian accused Chris Koerber of using out of town folks (i.e. hired people) to deliver his campaign literature.And, of course, it wasn't true - all those folks were friends of Koerber's. Isn't it interesting that now it's about the UUT, Harabedian and friends think it's a really good idea to hire "itinerant" workers to deliver their flyer. Hmm.... hypocrisy of the highest order!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From cops with no patches to "Yes on UUT" delivery guys with no green cards. The rules do not apply to Sierra Madre's royalty.

      Delete
    2. Harabedian is a Buchanan clone

      lawyer who talks a big game but a lightweight

      amazing, a candidate who was a fraud with his own campaign photos (see above) and has the audacity to accuse someone else

      what a freakin hypocrite

      Delete
    3. Let us keep focus on what the issue is. I have used the guys in the park for heavy chores that I can't do anymore, they are hard workers and charge over the minimum wage - so I don't think I am exploiting them. But that isn't the issue.

      The issue is that they are being asked to deliver material that isn't quite true. Regarding the low income exemption, Very, very few in Sierra Madre qualify for that exemption, and the exemption will still be there if the measure goes through or not. One has to apply, be qualified under very strict rules, and then maintain set amount per year for an individual. These rules are stated on the HUD website.

      The scare tactics being used come straight out of "how to win a campaign" books by using our police, fire and library as pawns. When someone tells you they are voting yes, set them straight. This is a tax raise, there are strict guidelines for exemption, and if the Council plays it right, we will not lose our local police.

      Delete
  14. Harabedian is a Buchanan clone and Buchanan is a Doyle clone (as was Nancy Walsh, Tonya Torres and Enid Joffe). Green is a Nancy Walsh clone as is Goss, the grief goes on.

    City Manager is a draw over from Glendale, not in the first list of applicants who all did not make the mark. She was headhunted by our two-time interim retired City Manager from Monrovia. The grief is compounded by the incestual workings of recycled City Managers and department heads that rome around the southland, Walnut being particularly central to this in the past.

    ReplyDelete
  15. This Tattler news should be the official NO on UUT information that is print off by all the readers and handed out around town. NOW!

    ReplyDelete
  16. I have some very good friends who live in town and work for the City of Sierra Madre. (there are more than you think). They are very concerned about the UUT because the City Manager has told them that there will be massive cuts in every department if the UUT does not stay at 10%. It is these workers who are afraid of their jobs and, if Elaine gets her way, there will be cuts regardless of the future of the UUT just to maintain her power. Let us vote NO and all put pressure on the new City Council to maintain the budget as is, wait and see about the UUT, and go from there.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Civil servants always want to make the cuts the most painful - to HURT the residents and punish them for cutting off the $$$. Same BS, different day.

      Delete
    2. Gotta love the "10% across the board" cuts. That's for those managers who don't have the cajones to decide to shut down a dept. or program or two.

      Delete
    3. Somehow I think the world will go on.

      Delete
    4. I think the Money from the UUT is for the payment of a settlement from one of the many lawsuits or to pay for a future settlement.

      Delete
  17. Wake up Sierra Madre residents and turn off the spigot. Vote No on the UUT. Regardless of how much money you give those folks, they will always need more as the salaries, benefits and pensions keep expanding to meet the revenues you give it. The Star News today shined a light on the DWP employees where 95% of the employees have their entire medical costs paid by the taxpayers. These employees don't even have to pay a deductible. Everywhere you look and in every city, the unions have successfully played the same game. The result: many cities teeter on the brink of bankruptcy. That's why these people should not have been allowed to unionize in the first place. They simply have too much leverage and throw too much money into local elections to elect the very people who will be negotiating their salaries and benefits. Its a corrupt process and we see the results everywhere.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Those of us who are concerned about the taxes and the UUT vote are banging our heads against the wall. These yes people are afraid of their own shadow and will do what ever the Down Town Investment Club tells them. This is a lost fight when you give people the truth and they still want to believe the lies.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In 2012 the "Yes UUT" people only got 40% of the vote. They won't do much better this time. Never underestimate people when it comes to money. They can sniff out the lies, no problem. And the lies this time stink to high heaven.

      Delete