The Captain enjoys a good intellectual read, sometimes. And other times, he’d prefer a good laugh. City Hall must be reading the Captain’s mind, ergo, the staff report from tonight’s (7/22) City Council meeting.
Yes, it’s the dreaded Agenda Item #5, titled “FY 2014-2015 Budget: Direction Regarding General Fund Budget Reductions In Preparation For Utility User Tax Sunset.”
If you need a good laugh, read the full staff report – all 10 pages. The Captain loved, yes, loved, Page 2 of 10: “General Fund Comparison of Revenues to Expenditures (in thousands) including Transfers In/Out."
The Captain won’t be attending the meeting this evening, but here are some good questions for lots of people to ask at Public Comment (feel free to have a number of people ask the same question – tell ‘em the Captain sent ya!) Please be sure to pass a copy of your questions to the City Clerk so they can go into the minutes.
Question 1: City revenues for FY (fiscal year) ending 6/30/2012 were $7.98 million. The current budget for FY ending 06/30/2015 (the year we’re in now) proposes $9.04 million. That’s a $1million dollar bump, or an average of 4.4% in increases in just 3 years.
Why did the revenues go up so much? Didn’t the UUT fail in 2012?
Question 2: City revenues for FY ending 6/30/2012 were $7.98 million. The City’s “doomsday” scenario for the FY ending 06/30/2017 (after the UUT rate sunsets to 6%) shows projected revenues at $ 8.56 million. This shows a $580,000 increase (over half a million dollars) or an average of 1.5% increase per year over those 5 years.
What increased services does the city provide now, or will provide in 2016, that it didn’t provide in 2012?
Question 3: In the July 17, 2014 edition of the Sierra Madre Weekly, City Manager Elaine Aguilar talks about an estimated $1 million less revenues after July 1, 2016 as the UUT sunset to 6%. Why didn’t she mention the expected $1 million increase in revenues from FY 2012 to FY 2014?
Question 4: The estimated Sierra Madre Police Department budget for FY ending 06/30/2014 was $ 3.504 million. The proposed FY ending 06/30/2015 shows a $3.906 million budget. That’s a $402,000 increase, or an 11.5% jump, and IN ONLY ONE YEAR! Why does it appear the City is building in a big pay raise for the police before negotiations have even gotten near the finish line?
A couple of bonus questions:
Question 5: Please explain how the City projected only about a 6.0% increase in property tax revenues for FY ending 06/30/2015 when at least 64 homes have sold in the last 90 days? That works out to about 240 for the entire year. These sales are not one time things - the increased taxes will continue year after year.
Question 6: Before we added paramedics in 2008, the City got along with a 6% UUT rate that applied to less types of utilities than we pay now. When was the last time (if ever) the City explored having the County provide paramedic services?
The Captain thinks the City’s answers to these questions should be transparent. With your help, we can get the clear answers we deserve.
Today's Pasadena Star News article on the development moratoriums
Mod: Is it just me, or are the three McMansion developers starting to sound just a little bit whiny? Today's Star News article, written by Zen Vuong and called, "Developers not bothered Sierra Madre’s water conservation measures" (link), gives us a bit of palaver from the folks in that corner. People who actually sound, well, kind of bothered.
Here is an example:
Cameron Thornton, spokesman for the Mater Dolorosa Passionist Retreat Center, said the 20 acres of vacant land his ministry hopes to develop into single-family homes is at least three years away from breaking ground. The building moratorium could be extended for a maximum of two years. In fact, the organization has yet to start a property sale process.
“It doesn’t change our need to sell the land to raise funds, that’s for sure,” Thornton said. “We still have the need to care for our aging priests in America and abroad. Quite candidly, it doesn’t change anything. Our biggest hope is that the moratorium will allow the community to come together and have civil exchanges and have honest conversations.”
There you go. Apparently Cameron Thornton believes that the people of Sierra Madre have been uncivil and dishonest on this topic. Probably because so many haven't been seeing things quite his way.
So how civil would it be to subject this community to years of the dirt, noise and pollution of so massive a construction project, and just because the Passionists did not plan properly for the retirement of their people? And isn't that what Thornton does for a living? Retirement planning?
And honestly, how in the world can Cameron Thornton claim with a straight face that "the organization has yet to start a property sale process?"
Really, Cameron? Does New Urban West know?