Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Question: Is It Time To Finish Off The UUT Altogether?

Earl, Shirley and David
Today at 11AM three people that I consider to be friends, Shirley Moore, Earl Richey and David McGonigle, will be filing a formal Notice of Intent with City Hall to circulate a petition calling for the complete repeal of Sierra Madre's Utility Users Tax.

That is, repeal what is left of the UUT. This on the heels of the stunning defeat of Measure UUT last April. Finally making utility taxes in Sierra Madre, which originally were supposed to be only temporary, yet somehow never went away, a thing of the past. In the process bringing to an end the way things have been done around here for quite a while.

Once this petition is passed around town and the necessary amount of signatures gathered, it will be filed with the appropriate election authorities and, come this November, you'll be able to actually vote on whether or not City Hall will still be able to tax folks for things like cell phone usage, gas, water, trash removal and electricity. A stone cold peoples' verdict on taxation, just like what happens in real democracies. As opposed to what we find so often from that greedy pussyfooting one party oligarchy known as Los Angeles County.

Here is how this Notice of Intent reads:


The three signatories are Shirley, Earl and David. They will not have any problem getting the necessary signatures to put this on the ballot. There will be much controversy, histrionics and plain old bellyaching from all of the usual suspects, but it is going happen.

So do I think that their initiative will get enough votes to actually pass this November? As it stands right now, I doubt it. Measure UUT was defeated by a mere 76 votes, a very slim margin. It would not take that large of a change in the numbers to keep the remaining 6% UUT in place.

And even though much of the utility tax money paid to the City of Sierra Madre actually goes for things like platinum CalPERS pension accounts and $36,000 a year employee health care plans (an obscenely large sum and to date likely the most expensive of its kind in California), there are people here who will be led to believe that an end to utility taxes could deprive them of public safety services and whatever else it is that the City provides for them in return.

However, this isn't a completely hopeless case. There is one scenario where I could see this actually happening. And that is if this initiative were to become a kind of protest against something else. Particularly if it becomes a protest vote against the kinds of predatory development being pushed by the City. Specifically, the McMansion developments at One Carter, Stone House and Mater Dolorosa.

Look at it this way. We keep electing City Councilmembers that ran their races as slow growth advocates. Probably because they knew that is what most Sierra Madreans like to hear. Yet once in office they invariably flip and become enablers of the very kinds of development that they ran against.

There are notable exceptions of course. Some Councilmembers do keep their word and fight hard to keep this community the way people here actually prefer it. But somehow they are almost always in the minority.

So how can the people of this town stop overdevelopment and a wholesale destructive  McMansionization of entire areas of this city? Good question. Apparently it cannot be done by electing City Councilmembers. Not enough of them ever seem to stay true to the promises they made on the topic when they first ran for office.

Which is why what we are being given today by Shirley, Earl and David offers the residents of Sierra Madre an option. Because if a majority of the City Council refuses to honor its slow growth election promises to protect Sierra Madre from McMansionization next Tuesday evening, and rather sells us out to the developers for development impact fees and other juicy financial considerations, then of what possible use are they to us?

In which case we might as well just take away their utility tax revenue. I mean, why would anyone want to pay perfectly good money to people who, once elected, refused to honor their promises on so important a matter? Who, for all intents and purposes, lied to us to get our votes? Especially when we are talking about preserving a way of life that most who live here value so dearly?

Quid pro quo. This for that.

I think we are going to learn many interesting things at that July 8 City Council meeting. It just might put everything into a brand new light for a whole lot of people.

http://sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

72 comments:

  1. We all know that the only way to hold City Hall accountable is to give them less money to spend. I'll sign that petition.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Wow. Just wow.

    ReplyDelete
  3. "Where do I sign?"

    ReplyDelete
  4. I will sign, too.

    Let's let the people decide if they want to pay this tax. Up or down vote, works for me.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Wonderrful !
    Congratulations to these 3 Civic minded and Action oriented citizens. Of course I shall sign it !And I'll help you get others to sign also.
    It will be a subtle reminder to Goss , Capocia and Harabedian to serve those who elected them, not their political masters nor to indulge their closet views.

    ReplyDelete
  6. No moratorium? No UUT.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Nice to see three people who follow their heart. Repealing the UUT will mean that we will no longer have our own police department. Can we put something on the ballot to contract out before we find ourselves in a weak position in negotiations? If we are at the point where we have to dissolve the police department we will HAVE to contract out, and then the contract cities can boost the price. If we can't afford that price, then we run a risk of the state meddling in our affairs and even run a small risk of bankruptcy or being forced to unincorporate. Might be a good idea to grab the bull by the horns now and cut loose the city's most costly expense.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Don't worry about the SMPD. The POA can make a bid to provide police services. I hope it'll be competitive. It will be up to the POA, though.

      Delete
    2. I think if they really put pencil to paper the SMPD could come up with a competitive offer. They'll need to bid for the job with everyone else, of course. With the taxpayers calling the shots, things will be different.

      Delete
    3. we had a police dept. long before we had the UUT

      Delete
    4. And a Library, too. How'd we do that?

      Delete
    5. From what I gather, the PD has cost the city a lot of money due to suits against it. No one seems to know how much. It's nice to have our own PD, but is it now feasible with what the union has allowed as perks. I'm sure the chief retired from another job. Does he get benefits from there as well as the city? What we are taxed for UUT goes to pay for these benefits. It should be going to repair the water system. As city employees pay and benefits rise, we get taxed more but nothing gets done in the city.

      Delete
    6. I'm sure our pension payouts for early retirements and double dipping is what the driving force behind just about everything city hall is doing

      it's a ponzi scheme at taxpayer expense

      Delete
  8. How many signatures are needed and by what deadline?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. They must collect 10% of the registered voters. I think they have 90 days to do that. A problem that they will have is that we have almost as many registered voters in the city as residents. The reason for this is the county has not updated the voter list. A lot of dead people and those that have moved are still on the roster.

      Delete
    2. I don't think it's that many signatures, I think it's a lot less. Stay tuned, we'll hear shortly, I'm sure.

      Delete
    3. 10% of registered voters is around 800 signatures. With about 200 extra for good measure, that's around 1000.

      Delete
  9. Congratulations to Shirley,Earl and David!!! Now we have something to focus on! The rest is up to the rest of us!!!

    ReplyDelete
  10. sure, candidates say they are "slow growth" but when we keep electing political junkie lawyers, utility company employees, commercial bankers, mortgage salesmen, construction company owner, building industry lobbyist...etc...etc

    why are we surprised or offended when they are actual "fast growth" and really don't care what you or I think or want for the city?

    Harabedian was murky with his ethics when he ran and when it was called out he was still voted in.

    Goss said he would not take any outside endorsements or $ yet he did and he was called out on it he was still voted in.

    Our problem is that the real estate crowd and those previous Councilmembers push and find candidates that continue their agendas for the city - SCAG goals to double our population. Every election we have choices that arent' good for the city yet that is all we have so we try to elect the lesser of the evils yet we always lose.


    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That is the beauty of having a UUT like this on the ballot. It really cuts through the BS.

      Delete
    2. Tell me YES or tell me NO, but tell me quick, I've gotta go.
      ~ Old Salesman's Creed

      Delete
  11. This could also be done IF the current city council enacts the phase 3 only. We would then have our backs against the wall...everyone in Sierra Madre would be adversely affected.
    We could also wait until around October, so as to have at least 3 months in cool weather to get signatures. It could be easily done at that time, easier than Measure V was, and we got well over the number of signatures we needed for that.
    Mid summer is not the optimal time to do this, but we will have to do what we have to do. We can't continue to let this corrupt city hall and city council run Sierra Madre into ruin.
    Thanks, Shirley, Earl and David......you'll have a lot of support.
    To the city council.......do the RIGHT THING, even if you've been paid off to do otherwise. You can't and you won't get away with this. MORITORUM now. All three of them!!!!!!!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Replies
    1. There are some that have money in the game!

      Delete
    2. Which means?

      Delete
    3. No money in this game. Not a realtor, lawyer, developer, etc. Just a regular retired 50 year resident who really pays attention to what is going on in the City. There was a police dept. and a library before the UUT. However, the voters voted to have paramedics instead of our EMT's who could be fire dept. volunteer trained. We now have paid paramedics (who only get minimum wage, by the way), and a mostly paid fire department due to county regulations. addition to that, because the City Staff were unionized thanks to a prior city manager, there has to be negotiations over hours, pay, and benefits. Nothing wrong with that, however, it has gotten out of hand. The City does not have any other source of funds over and above property tax and a meager sales tax revenue. I think 6% is an adequate amount to be able to sustain the paramedics, fire, road repair, and have a bit left over for emergency funds.

      From one who has walked just about every block in the City for one reason or another including City Council candidates, no on UUT, prop 218 petitions for no on water rate raise, State and Local Candidates, plus attending planning, council, special meetings, and budget meetings.

      Delete
    4. Where do you stand on a water moratorium?

      Delete
    5. So let's contract out the paramedics. They are currently earning one of those Platinum Pensions, ya know.

      Delete
    6. This is 3:24 speaking. I fully support a moratorium on no new water meters, and hopefully, if a building moratorium goes through, no new development.

      Delete
    7. 3:41 are you kidding? Yes, I'd love to see the paramedics contracted out, but they are NOT those earning the platinum pensions, most of them work full time for another agency and don't get benefits from Sierra Madre

      Delete
  13. The most insidious thing about the UUT is the stealth way it increase over time. Because the UUT rate is a percentage of one's utility bill, when the utility rates increase, why so does the UUT amount received. If this tax were a flat tax amount, it would not increase each time the utility rates increase. So, when the electric company, the phone company, the gas company, and the water company (just to name a few) increase their rates, the city receives more money from the UUT tax assessment. It's a good deal for the City.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. No 2% cap on UUT revenue increases like the Prop 13 two percent cap on Property Tax increases.

      When water rates increase 18% (like they did 7/1/2014) the city gets 18% more $$ collecting UUT on water.

      The city is addicted to increasing UUT revenue, just like an addict is addicted to crack.

      Delete
    2. With apologies to Robert Palmer:
      Might as well face it, you're addicted to UUT
      Might as well face it, you're addicted to UUT
      Might as well face it, you're addicted to UUT
      Might as well face it, you're addicted to UUT
      Might as well face it, you're addicted to UUT

      Delete
  14. The politically ambitious Mayor Harabedian will have to deliver bigtime for our various city employee unions before he is taken seriously by the Democratic Central Committee of Los Angeles. To use the mob term, he needs to "earn" before he becomes a made man. That's how it works in corrupt one party L.A. There is no way in hell that he will go for a moratorium on development. That fix is in. City Hall needs to development impact fees to cover $36,000 health plans. His sock it to the ratepayer Phase 3 will be turned off just as soo as the first big McMansion project is ready to go live. Defeat the UUT. Teach these bums a lesson they need to learn.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Do we have to pay UUT on the phase 3 water penalties? What a SWEET deal for the City! Ka-ching!

      Delete
  15. I was a proponent and major supporter of the recent NO on UUT increase. However, I am completely opposed to this ill conceived repeal of the UUT. Times have changed. In 1975 property tax contributed 15% of city revenues. Now it is just 7% and simply does not provide the amount of revenue needed for our small city with almost no sales tax base.

    This is a fools errand. Don't think for a moment that you will be a hero here in town. If you had any sense you would know that you are being used for someone else's agenda. You will be mocked and scorned for even thinking about compromising our city and our way of life here. The UUT in its present form sunsets to a reasonable level.


    And there are many of us, who would ordinarily welcome less tax

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A big lesson that I learned early in life. Worrying about what other people think is an oxymoron.

      Delete
    2. This is the same old crap the Dirts have been parroting for years; going back to Bart Doyle and Rob "don't call me stupid" Stockley.

      Sales tax revenue wouldn't be low if the Dirts hadn't destroyed the business district by chasing away successful businesses while creating Blight to justify their redevelopment schemes.

      Stop investing yourself in their lies and start supporting local businesses.

      Delete
    3. I'm thinking Calamity Jane and Bess of Hardwick are the same person, just from different eras.

      Delete
    4. Dear Jane,
      You're missing the point.

      The City has no intention of letting the UUT sunset to 6%. If they did, they wouldn't have tried to raise it to rates double or almost double that (12%, in 2012 and 10% in 2014.

      Wake up and smell the cowboy coffee.

      Delete
    5. It's a twister! Auntie Em, Auntie Em!

      Delete
    6. Calamity Susan most likely.

      Delete
    7. For all of you who have their hands over their ears and eyes and saying nanana I can't hear you, 12:58 is a logical reasonable argument against doing away with the UUT. I agree with her completely. Sometimes it would be well to listen to the other side.

      Delete
    8. There is no 12:58.

      Delete
    9. 3:27, did you say something?

      Delete
    10. I think what 3:27 meant with that cite is that there is no "logical reasonable argument" against doing away with the UUT.

      Delete
    11. @3:27pm

      Please, don't accuse people of what you are in fact, guilty of. It's a tired, old tactic.

      Despite how desperate the welfare class is to keep living off of other people, tax payers have had enough.

      Delete
    12. I see dead people voting...

      Delete
    13. You know what dead vampires are called, right? Stakeholders.

      Delete
    14. It's process humor.

      Delete
  16. Looks like the Star News sent a reporter to City Hall this morning to cover the event. Story will be up this evening.

    ReplyDelete
  17. 1:11 - Yes, it is always fun to get your picture taken in the newspaper so that all Sierra Madreans will know who to flog and humiliate in the public square.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Kinky, Bess. You must be from the Civility Party.

      Delete
    2. Prepare to hear threats,scoldings as well as end world scenarios when the City loot is threatened!

      Delete
    3. Is the Library still open?

      Delete
    4. The Mountain Views News, which lives off of our taxes, will be frothing at the mouth.

      Delete
    5. I wouldn't know, 2:31. My library is Vromans.

      Delete
    6. Judging by the Mountain Views News track record on elections recently, their opposition to doing away with the UUT will be a lucky break for tax opponents.

      Delete
  18. Anyone know how much money the city gets from the UUT each year and what percent of the total revenue that is?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. More and more every year, even though they like to say it's not increasing.

      Delete
    2. At 6% its $1.6 million which is 20% of the General Fund. Since much of the City expenditures are fixed and required by law, loss of the UUT will lead to a reduction in the police force of over 20% because other areas cannot be cut by that amount.

      Delete
    3. Sure. Whatever you say.

      Delete
    4. So you think cutting government revenue to get smaller government doesn't lead to...smaller government.

      Delete
    5. Oh, it will.

      Delete
  19. 12:58 or 12:59 confused at best. Looking ahead at what possibe open space is still available in town and how the political game ties in with money; the city will have a larger property tax base. The poor decisions made by a few in the the city has created a small sales ties tax base. I agree with 3:24pm except for the 6% and I believe that being reasonable left when ordinary folk were made to feel unwelcome as volunteers in this town. I will sign the pettion.

    ReplyDelete
  20. People are overthinking this. A lot of folks are just sick to death of all the lies coming out of City Hall. $36,000 health plan? Guess what. The gravy train just hit the wall. We are taking all that away.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll do it for an $18,000 health plan. That saves 50% right there.

      Delete
  21. Wow, 7pm. You are so powerful. Let's see how that turns out for you.

    ReplyDelete