Friday, March 13, 2015

A Shocker From Mayor Harabedian: UUT 3 Is On The Way!

I probably should get into the crystal ball business. Then again, maybe I shouldn't. This wasn't all that hard to predict, and certainly it didn't take anything in the way of extrasensory powers. Which I will happily admit I have never ever had. Even once.

But are the kinds of things soothsayers get asked really all that difficult? "Will I ever find true love?" people ask. "Will I ever win the Lottery?" You just tell folks they will because isn't that all they really want to hear? That the unlikely can happen, and will for them? Then you pocket their $150 and shoo them out the door. There's one born every minute, why not get your share? So is that scenario all so different from what we heard last night at City Hall?

Here is what we said yesterday on the blog while doing a little bit of a preview report about last night's Sierra Madre State of the City Address:

It is good that this yearly event is being held at City Hall this year, and at an hour accessible to the working man and woman. Traditionally this has been the time and place for the person running the government of the City of Sierra Madre to speak with great solemnity about the City's finances, and then darkly warn of the consequences should the residents not cough up some additional tax revenue.

I guess we'll have to wait and see if that storied tradition holds.

It did hold, of course. We all knew it would. The sight of John Harabedian, the Ivy League and Stanford Law educated young man of remarkable intellectual breadth and power (or so the Mayor Pro Tem reverently informed us), dutifully slogging down the same road apple strewn donkey path originally carved out for him by the likes of John Buchanan, Josh Moran and Nancy Walsh, was certainly an interesting one.

All of which does go to show, L.A. County machine politics can make an ass jack out of even the most properly turned out gentleman. It really is quite a leveler.

One prescient commenter had this to say yesterday:


Like I said, none of this was a secret.

So anyway, Mayor Harabedian wants to put the UUT back on the ballot again. And he said it with a very solemn and serious face. Which makes me think he must have been studying old John Buchanan tapes. And being the famed devotee of "the process" he proclaims himself to be, there will of course be a series of community meetings held so that he and many other fine dignitaries can learn exactly how you feel about it all.

Now you'd think that the two most recent city elections, where voters twice turned down utility tax increases, would have made what everybody thinks about them crystal clear. But perhaps Mayor Harabedian, a man given to reasoned subtlety, didn't think that was nuanced enough.

After this series of public meetings on utility taxes, which are sure to be as poorly attended as the community meetings held during the previous two failed UUT raising efforts, our elected officials will then do what they had intended to do all along. Put a utility tax increase back on the ballot for the third time in six years.

Like I said, nobody will ever see that one coming.

Mayor Harabedian then threw out what he probably believed was a major concession. He said that this latest onset of the every two year utility tax itch didn't necessarily have to be 10%. It could instead be 8%, or maybe 9%. But wouldn't that still be a substantial 25% plus tax increase?

Didn't the people of Sierra Madre vote twice to reduce utility taxes to 6%? In both 2012 and 2014? Yes, they did. So why is Mayor Harabedian going to attempt to raise taxes for a third time?

In my opinion the answer to that is political ambition. The City of Sierra Madre can easily survive on a 6% utility tax, but its union employees may not get the raises and posh new pension packages they believe we owe them. And if Mayor Harabedian is going to go anywhere politically in this one party government union dominated county and state, he needs to deliver on a tax increase. How else will this city ever be able to dole out big raises, solid gold pensions and benefits like so many others already do?

Or then? Goodbye Assemblyman John Harabedian. The Mayor might believe he is destined for greater things, but you're the one who will have to pay the price. If the Mayor doesn't earn for the unions by getting a tax hike, the machine Democrats will kick him to the curb. Just like they did with Joe Mosca.

Equating what he wants with the kinds of things Preserve Sierra Madre has been working for was quite an interesting turn as well, I think. Has Mayor Harabedian now put a price tag on his cooperation with those residents who want to protect this town from overdevelopment and mansionization? Was he threatening to pull that support if he doesn't get his way on a utility tax increase? Was this a hostage taking? Could we have even called it intimidation?

There was also the matter of a parcel tax for the Library. Quite an idea, though no actual price tag was suggested last night. But let me ask you a question. Wouldn't this be the same as putting the Library itself on the ballot? Are the Library's supporters completely certain that they want to do that? Are they willing to consider the consequences of this should it lose? That perhaps the residents don't really care all that much? Pretty signs with hearts and all that?

Or, as Clint might have put it, "Do they feel lucky? Well, do they?"

One more thought before I wrap this puppy up. The Teapac people want to put an initiative on the ballot that will do away with Sierra Madre's utility taxes altogether. A zero percent UUT. While at the same exact time Mayor Harabedian could put an initiative on the ballot that will raise the UUT from that 6% you voted for twice to either 8% or 9%.

Now I suspect this will be presented as an either/or thing. You either vote with Teapac, or you vote with Mayor Harabedian. With the choice being either no utility taxes, or utility taxes increased to as much as 9%. Which, by the way, is far above the state average.

But think about it. Isn't there another option? A third way?

There is. You could vote NO on both the Teapac and Harabedian utility tax measures. Then the UUT stays at the 6% you voted for in 2012 and 2014.

My guess is neither side has thought that one through yet.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

54 comments:

  1. A parcel tax is nothing less than an increase in Property Taxes. Just ask all the Howard Jarvis Prop 13 folks. It is just a back door way to raise them. And, if the library is already funded why do they need the additional monies from a parcel tax? just say NO to all tax increases. I also agree with the Mod, vote NO on abolishing the UUT entirely and let it rest at 6%- the city can live on that.

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    1. Why do we need a Library? Arcadia, Monrovia and Pasadena all have them, Get rid of ours, or at least make it do with the current funding. There are so many ways to cut expenses, LASD instead of our expensive spoiled brat of a PD, Make a deal to join the Arcadia Water Dept, they seem to have plenty.

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  2. So Harabedian wants to propose putting another UUT ax proposal on the ballot. Which Councilmembers will vote to do that? Which councilmembers will vote not to do that? A split vote does not give the city a very strong position to argue for the measure.

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  3. what part of "NO" does Harabedian not understand?

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  4. Hmm. So after 2 votes on the UUT the young genius mayor doesn't know what people think? Maybe he isn't as smart as Cappy says he is.

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  5. Dog and Pony Baloney.

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  6. eliminate the uutMarch 13, 2015 at 5:58 AM

    Just when things were looking up with the city unified the mayor decides to divide it by pulling the uut card. Oh well. Back to yard signs, name calling, and the good old neighbor versus neighbor days of Nancy and chubby frat boy josh. Way to go john!

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    1. It's always about the money. Never fails.

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    2. 5:58 - Don't let yourself be fooled by Harabedian's charming manner. A taxer raiser is always a tax raiser, no matter what. You know the adage - A tiger never changes his stripes.

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    3. Johnny Harabedian sure likes to spend other people's money, doesn't he?

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    4. The best salesmen are charming and convince their customers that they are very sincere.

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  7. This is a great time to become a Groucho Marxist. Whatever it is, I'm against it!

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  8. You got that right.....politicians and their Marxism insanity is destroying the world's economy.
    Governments only serve themselves. ...to hell with the rest of us.
    NO surprise here....what do you expect from a pig but a grunt.

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    1. the problem with Harabedian et als political philosophy of taxing the people more and more to feed the government beast is that you eventually run out of other peoples' money. (public pensions anyone?)

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  9. It's UUT Groundhog Day. We're all Bill Murray.

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  10. It is going to be called Measure More UUT. Or MUTT.

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    1. Counter UUT will be called CUT.

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    2. Cut, No-No, and MUTT.

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  11. The reason Mayor Harabedian didn't hear what the voters said in 2012 and 2014 is he has something in his ears. I think he needs a flush.

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  12. We will be dealing with John "yell at you" Capoccia. He has been pushing for increased taxes since he was elected, talk about drinking the cool aid. We have more police officers now than ever and still have burglaries. City hall really needs to look at expenses not getting more money. Also, why do officers sit in the dark of the shade to get a minor infraction ticket written when we have homes being broken into all the time. Forget the tickets and patrol the city, this is not that hard to figure out. City wants to raise more money, not fix the problems of a bigger police department that is coming up with more time wasting than actual police work. Oh, just thought of something, maybe they are more afraid of the burglars than the old people in town.

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    1. When Cappy is Mayor there will be much finger wagging. However, with Mayor Pro Tem Gene Goss at his side, um, oh Jesus...

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    2. We need one of the ladies to be Mayor Pro Tem. Goss, Arizmendi & Delmar were all elected at the same time.

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    3. The tradition is that the candidate who got the most votes is next in line. That would mean Goss will be Capoccia's Mayor Pro Tem. However, when it was Koerber's turn to become MPT Harabedian cut the line by lining up the votes of Nancy and Josh. It was kind of ugly. The swanky Mr. Harabedian does occasionally become the garbage man's son. Kind of a Jekyll and Hyde thing he has going on.

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  13. Speaking of the police-did ya read the blotter about the kids who were stopped, on a weekday, and they found an open container of booze in the car. The police were bright enough to take the booze back to the station and empty it. But-and here it comes-they let the kids go!!!!!!! No confiscation of car, no notifying school or parents apparently. Wow! That's great policing! s an aise, I wonder how many of those St. Rita's parents have been in the chamber room before. Glad they could stay for the whole time.

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    1. They had to stay out of respect to Johnny's Mom who is the principal of St. Rita School.

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    2. That is how you fill a room on a night you want people to think is important.

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    3. Haradbedian is either a true believer or is just ambitiious and wants to tap into the political machine to advance his career. Why do these people keep wanting to dredge up this stuff and divide the community again. Its like the guy from the move Halloween, you think he's dead and he just keep getting up.

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    4. Harbedian was a big supporter of Torres. He put the teacher's union ahead of the kids. I've lost alot of respect for him.

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    5. Just like the olden days when the kids were given a break the first infraction, although they did notify me when our son rode my Honda on his paper route one day. No ticket though. Can we now lay off the police for awhile?

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  14. So we will have to go through this every two years until they get what they want? How exciting for us.

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    1. That's a massive waste of city funds.

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    2. They had two chances to sell this. Enough is enough. Just say no.

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    3. When did the people's vote come to mean "Try again later?"

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    4. "Enjoy your services." - Josh

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    5. When I was a kid and my mom said no to something and I kept pestering her she would ground me.

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    6. City Hall needs a time out. About 4 years.

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  15. If we are going to do this can we have an initiative to kill the uut? After all, prop tax revenues are up, and water revenues are going up.

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    1. My understanding is that there will be two UUT measures on the ballot. The Teapac one will give you the option of doing away with the UUT altogether. If it is more taxes you're hankering for, then Mayor Harabedian's measure will get you that. And if you want the UUT to stay at the 6% the voters approved twice? Then you vote NO on both of them.

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  16. Can the library parcel tax be voluntary?

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    1. Shure. They'll take your money.

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    2. A parcel tax has been suggested for years for the library. It is not voluntary. If a tax is levied the cost of the library would be taken out of the general budget and would be replaced by the tax. The tax would guarantee the library receive the funding it requires for a certain period of time, and not have to worry about budget cuts each year. The City could then spend the general fund money on other services, like police. It would also alleviate the need for an increased UUT, or even a lower 4% tax. It would be a win/win for the City, the library and most likely the citizens as well.

      Altadena's library is funded from property tax monies. Their initiative stated that a fixed amount would be assessed for a period of 10 years, then another vote be taken. They overwhelming passed an increased tax for their library in November. I believe this would be a 218 proposition.

      If it fails, the cost of the library would stay in the general fund. The library would not close. Talk to the young families moving into Sierra Madre, they all came here because of the small town including having a library they could walk to and has programs that appeals to them.

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  17. Government will never stop taking our money.Theu have to take it even if it comes down to stealing it.
    They will pass laws to collect more and more of our money via fines. ...it will come down to neighbors snitching on each other.
    Happening in Europe right now. They have to grab all they can. Never ends till we throw them all out

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  18. In two years our city budget will be $700,000 short. We cannot make that up just by cutting costs. There will have to be a modest increase in revenue.

    I love Sierra Madre. I expect to pay taxes to keep it the precious village that it is. I know there is waist and the employee benefits are too costly. Del Mar and Arizmendi cut future employee benefit costs. We don’t have many revenue sources. I do not want a parcel (property) tax, higher sales taxes, or parking meters. But I do want police, firefighters, parks, and preservation.

    We cannot save over $700,000 in two years even if we contract with the Sherriff and close our police dept.

    I will pay 7 or 7.5% in UUT taxes to help balance our budget as long as more cutting is done. If we eliminate the UUT altogether we will be destroying our city. We will then have to look to the McMansion development fees for revenue. That will be the end of Sierra Madre.

    The mayor’s mistake last night was to look only at increasing revenue. The answer is twofold. Reducing costs while modestly increasing the UUT for a two year period. In two years we can reevaluate our situation and decide what to do next, which must be designed to Preserve Sierra Madre.

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    1. You know, if in 2012 John Buchanan had put his request out as an 8% UUT, we wouldn't be having this discussion. He instead asked for 12%, which was far and above what every other city in California was getting. Then or now. You may recall how we were told how necessary that was. Then in 2014 the number was 10%. That too was absolutely necessary and that without it the city would suffer greatly. Last night the current version of the Mayor told us that 8% was absolutely vital. You have picked up on some of his arguments here. So is it 12%, 10% or 8%? At least two of those numbers were lies. Maybe all 3, who can really tell anymore? The voters have twice told the city that they think 6% is the number. You know what? I believe them. I will vote NO.

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    2. 3:12. Can you give specific examples of what will cause the city to be $700K in the red?

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    3. The mayor showed it on the power point last night at city hall during his state of the city address

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    4. Powerpoint? Why then it must be true!

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  19. I agree with 3.12 -to some extent.
    I would like to pay more taxes to fund the improvement of infrastructure -for example the now ignored 30% leakage we have from City water mains.
    Unfortunately the City management have consistently demonstrated a total ineptitude -at best -in any Public Works projects. The avarice of the City Employee Union to fund lavish benefits and egregious salaries is stunning.
    In a commercial situation, faced with inept/incompetent/unqualified management and overpaid employees, you would not give them more money to waste. When will we learn?
    Further, there will be no change in the competence and transparency with which Sierra Madre is managed until the culprits are fired. And please don't feel sorry for Bruce and Elaine or their like-minded underlings - your tax dollars will feather-bed them throughout their long and affluent retirements..

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  20. Preserve the city not the library. A parcel tax for the library is just another way of getting more money out of the home owners. A library in SM is a wast of money, how about just getting us some decent drinking water first. Running a library is not that big a deal, providing safe drinking water seems to be beyond this city's ability no matter how much money they get from us. SM is not sustainable but city hall is still trying to increase the population, go figure.

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  21. More taxes and more taxes. Does anyone know what the total amount of taxes are that the city collects?

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  22. How about this. You get the city a new city manager and a new public works director, and I promise to take a whole new look at raising the UUT. If you want me to change, then you change the mess at city hall. Otherwise no go.

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  23. I'm with you 7:35. Flush this mess and get less expensive and more educated replacements. Big business is doing it all the time.

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  24. How sad it is to think that some think only of their own pocketbooks and not of the benefit they are reaping from other people's pocketbooks. Sierra Madre would not be the city it is if we all thought it would exist on no taxes, no library, low prices in our shops, no local police, and no city workers because it would take money out of "my" pocket.

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    1. Two things here I like. I like benefits that you say I can receive from other people's pocketbooks. And I like low prices in our shops. The rest is kind of annoying.

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