|It's getting old, Chicken Little|
Yes, you the voter who did not approve either of the last two UUT Measures, are now going to have to face your punishment. And I'm telling you, the Mayor, the Mayor Pro Tem, and the Fredo Corleone of this City Council, Gene Goss, they're going make you suffer the consequences for no longer wishing to pay the highest utility taxes in California.
Apparently it was bad dog night at Sierra Madre's City Council, and you truly deserved that whack on the snout with a rolled up newspaper.
But is it really the fault of the residents of Sierra Madre? Are they the guilty party here, the one that deserves a thousand lashes with a wet noodle as administered by a red-faced, shirtless and sweating Eugene Goss? Was that additional money you had been paying in utility taxes all for naught, and now you must suffer the consequences for daring to say that you've finally paid enough?
Look at it this way. City Hall has known since 2008 that our 10% utility taxes, the highest in the state, were going to sunset some day. The City had nearly eight years to get ready for this moment. So did they cut anything of real consequence in preparation for this moment? Were any costs reduced in order to ready Sierra Madre's government agency for a time when the gravy train might end and the funny money stop rolling in?
When asked that question last night, City Manager Elaine Aguilar's first and practically only response was to claim that they had rerouted the Roundabout. You know, that little box of a bus that hardly anyone uses? And which is still around, by the way?
Of course, it was also Elaine Aguilar who told us during the run-up to the last two UUT Measures that expenses at City Hall had been "cut to the bone." This at a time when $36,000 health care plans (also some of the highest in California) were being doled out to anyone who looked like they might not be happy with their job.
Let me ask you this. If you went to your boss and told him/her that you were unhappy with your job and might decide to leave, do you think you would get a $36,000 a year health plan? Along with an apology perhaps? I kind of doubt it.
Here is why hostage taking is so incredibly stupid. When Gene Goss says something along the lines of, "We'll be forced to get rid of our Police Department," does anybody really think that we are not going to have a Police Department? I doubt it. We are still going to have Police, and we are still going to have to find the money to pay them. No matter what happens.
Here is another point. Whose fault is it that we are now coming upon the final sunsetting of the 10% UUT completely unprepared? A extremely high UUT rate that, by the way, was always supposed to be only temporary. Who decided not to prepare us for something that was always known, and likely to happen?
Well, previous City Councils, of course. Who just kept spending as if this day would never arrive.
But who is the one person who was there the entire time? And didn't once bring this inevitability up? Even though it was her job to do so? The City Manager. Never did she suggest to any City Council that the UUT could sunset someday, and they'd better get ready for it by cutting back their spending. You know, because people just might get tired of paying sky high state leading utility taxes?
Elaine was at the helm of the Leakin' Lena the entire time, and did nothing to prepare for any of this.
It is always much easier to blame the residents. And it is also a mark of ineptitude to assume that you can keep spending like tomorrow will never come because you'll always be able to convince the poor dumb taxpayers to give you more money. Without once making any truly meaningful preparations for a time when that money could dry up.
Which it now has, and per the vote of those same taxpayers. Twice.
Once 3/5s of this City Council gets beyond its juvenile "Give us your money or we'll kill this Library" phase, they'll need do some real work. And once that (hopefully) happens they're going to need to adjust health care benefits, pension contributions, expenses and salaries.
They are also going to have to reorganize the way City Hall does its job. Because that is a business model we can no longer afford to throw our money at. Even if we wanted to. This isn't Los Angeles, we're a small town of less than 11,000 people. Time to start acting like it.
And the City Council is also going to have to look at and evaluate each and every employee currently working for this City. Are they worth the money they're being paid? Are they producing something of real value that makes keeping them around worth the taxpayer's while?
You know, the was it gets done in the private sector when a company finds itself running short of money.
But that will take hard work and courage. Some City Councilmembers apparently are not there yet.
Tomorrow Evening's Planning Commission Meeting
We've been dealing with Sierra Madre's budget woes this past couple of days. But now we need to get back to something equally ominous. CETT, along with their litigious lawyer and fabulous architect, are still hard at work attempting to construct LULU McMansions at One Carter.
You're going to need to be there. We'll have an article about this up tomorrow.