|An eating process pie chart|
1) When will the "Mountain Views News Special City Council Building Moratorium Meeting" take place?
Mod: You know that the City Council's final deliberations on the Building Moratorium had to be pushed back by a few weeks because the legally required Public Notice newspaper ad was somehow "lost" by dotty Mountain Views News publisher Harriet Susan Henderson Poole Carter.
So what is the date for this make-up meeting? One where the City Council will have to make special time in their vacation schedules so it can happen? For that information we turn to Barry Gold, who got us a big payoff this week with his timely e-mail to Mayor Harabedian. Here is Barry's e-mail, along with the reply he received:
From: Barry Gold
Sent: Tuesday, July 15, 2014 11:25 PM
To: John Harabedian
Cc: Rachelle Arizmendi; Gene Goss; John Capoccia; Denise Delmar; Elaine Aguilar
Subject: Building Moratorium Extension
Dear Mayor Harabedian,
I heard that the building moratorium may not be extended beyond the initial 45 days period because the required notice was not published in the Mountain View News in a timely manner. Many residents are understandably concerned and would like to know the status of this matter.
Could you please let the community know whether or not a vote on the building moratorium extension will take place on July 22 at the council meeting.
Maybe you could use the City's web site to bring us all up-to-date.
Thank you, Barry Gold
To: Barry Gold
Sent: Wed, Jul 16, 2014 9:45 am
Subject: RE: Building Moratorium Extension
Hello Mr. Gold –
Mayor Harabedian asked me to reply to your email on his behalf (and on the behalf of the Council) – to let you know what staff is doing to notify the public of this situation. Your information is correct, the Mountain Views News did not print the public hearing notice in Saturday’s newspaper, so the Council cannot take any action on July 22nd. I have checked with the City Council to determine a new date when the matter can be considered. The entire City Council is available for a meeting on Tuesday, August 12th. So the Council will be meeting on Tuesday, August 12th at 6:30 pm in the Council Chambers to consider extending the moratorium. The urgency ordinance (Ordinance 1357U) that was approved at the July 8th City Council meeting is in full force and effect until August 22nd. Please know that this publishing error does not in any way impact the other two actions the City Council took on July 8th (approval of Urgency Ordinance 1356U and Resolution 14-58.)
To notify the public, we will be including this updated information in this week’s E-Blast, in this week’s City Manager’s report, and by posting the information on the City’s website; in addition to the regular posting of the agenda on the City’s website at least 72 hours in advance of the meeting. Lastly – there will be a notice in the City’s adjudicated newspaper (the Mountain Views News), as required by law.
Please let me know if I can answer any additional questions you may have, or if I can provide any assistance in the future.
Sincerely, Elaine Aguilar, City Manager
Mod: So there you go. This MVN inspired "special meeting" will take place on August 12th. Thanks to the Mountain Views News there will be an August City Council meeting after all. Plus look at it this way, now the Building Moratorium will get its very own moment in the sun. A great opportunity for residents to focus on just how destructive developments such as Mater Dolorosa, One Carter and (as someone posting on this blog happily called it) Stonehenge, would be here. Especially during the worst drought in recorded history.
For the record there has been no statement yet from Susan Henderson explaining how exactly this rather momentous boner occurred. Should that ever happen, and we're not holding our breathe, we will post it here.
2) When will the 2013 City of Sierra Madre Employee Compensation numbers finally be made available?
Mod: We have been posting some of the truly troublesome numbers provided to us by TransparentCalifornia.com detailing just how bizarrely high City of Sierra Madre employee health care plan costs are. Which, in case you are not aware, at over $30,000 per for certain specially chosen employees, are some of the highest in the state of California. If not the highest of all. These numbers are all based on the most recent data made available by the City of Sierra Madre, and are from 2012.
You can link to this information directly by clicking here.
That 2012 date has been problematic for some, however. One individual, who seemed particularly irked by our forthcomingness about this City's insane health plan compensation spending, left the following tart comment here last week:
I don't know how having squandered hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars on Cadillac city employee health care compensation plans in 2012 can somehow be justified by what City Hall did in 2013. Why the year this disaster occurred makes things any better escapes me. And how would this individual have known that the 2013 numbers are lower since our local government agency has not made them available to anybody yet? Including Sacramento?
That is, unless "anonymous" is a city employee himself. One having privileged knowledge to information nobody else has seen yet. Always a possibility.
But again, how could the 2012 numbers be inaccurate or misleading? They are the numbers for 2012, after all. As supplied to the State Controller's office by City hall as is required by California law. Suddenly 2012 doesn't matter anymore?
So I asked our friends at TransparentCalifornia.com to try and find out when exactly the 2013 numbers would become available. Just to keep everyone happy. They made an inquiry to City Hall and received the following reply:
I wanted to let you know that I am in receipt of your request, but we have not yet compiled the data you are asking for the State Controller and therefore do not have a report to send you at this time. I believe the deadline to submit the State Controller’s report is in mid-August. Once we have submitted the report, I will send a copy to you as well.
So there you go. Most cities in California are on this exact same reporting schedule, and ours is no different. The law is the law. This also means that the 2012 numbers we have been posting here are the most up-to-date and accurate possible.
Trust me, as soon as those 2013 health care plan numbers are made available this August we will be more than happy to post them here.
One question though. The mysterious fellow who left the above blog comment claims that those as yet unknown 2013 numbers will be lower. So does this mean the City Council has been cutting the costs of city employee health coverage? And if so, wouldn't that have had to happen during a City Council meeting? Do you recall any such thing ever going down? I don't.
Here is another interesting fact, also based on those same 2012 numbers. The City of Sierra Madre has a total of 53 full-time government workers that are costing us, when pensions and everything else is factored in, a cool $5,450,000 million a year. Divide that cost amongst the 5,888 residents of Sierra Madre who are classified as employed, and it comes to $925 a year per taxpaying resident.
You're most certainly welcome.
3) How many signatures will the people who want to do away with the UUT altogether have to get in order to put this question on the ballot this November?
Mod: This question had come up more than once, and nobody seemed to know the answer. Or if they did they didn't care to share it with us here.
To get that information we turned to a Pasadena Star News article titled "Arcadia City Council rejects petition to repeal utility tax." To read the entire thing click here.
A notice to circulate a petition was submitted last week in Sierra Madre. The group needs about 100 signatures to qualify for the ballot.
Earl Richey, a proponent in Sierra Madre, said the city needs to be more responsible in its handling of its finances. “The city wants more revenue to give it more borrowing power, which will put us in even more debt,” Richey said.
This spring, Sierra Madre voters defeated a measure that would keep the utility tax at 10 percent through 2020. By rejecting the measure, the tax will decrease to 6 percent by July 2016.
City Manager Elaine Aguilar said the city will collect $2.4 million in UUT revenue this year or, 27 percent of the city’s total revenue. “For a reduction of that amount of money it is not possible to take a little from here and a little from there,” she said. “It would mean completely changing the way the city provides services.”
That 100 signatures figure is a surprisingly low one. If true, and why wouldn't it be, what this tells me is the fate of the remaining 6% of our Utility User Taxes (UUT) will most certainly be in the hands of the voters this November.
My advice to City Hall is to be a bit more proactive about getting its spending under control. You know, things such as those crazy $30,000 plus per year employee health care plans have simply got to go.
Because if the City won't do it, we now have the necessary tool to do the job for them.