Wednesday, April 8, 2015

UUT3: City Councilmembers Prepared To Talk To Sierra Madre Civic Organizations About Tax Increases

It now looks like there is an initial push underway to place yet another Utility Tax increase on the ballot. Having failed to get a UUT hike passed in 2012 and 2014, this would be the third attempt by the city to do so. It is being assumed by The Tattler that this latest tax increase effort would go on the ballot in April of 2016 in order to run concurrently with the next City Council race.

In 2016 John Harabedian and John Capoccia would each be up for re-election to another four year term should they choose to run. Current Mayor Harabedian, at his recent State of the City address, strongly indicated that he would be in favor of not only a 3rd utility tax increase attempt, but a newly created Library parcel tax as well. Why the Mayor would favor the separation of tax raising efforts into these two distinctly different parts has yet to be fully explained.

John Capoccia, who ran for his office in 2012 as a fiscally conservative candidate opposed to what were then among the highest utility taxes in the state, has since come around on the UUT increase question. He will likely favor tax increases.

The word out of the most recent Coordinating Council meeting, and per Community Services Department head Adam Matsumoto, is City Councilmembers will soon be available to make 30 to 45 minute presentations to any community group regarding what possible effects the lowering of the UUT to its twice voter approved rate of 6% will have on their particular interests.

We are going to assume here that the purpose of these Councilmember talks is to explain to each city organization how projected losses in revenue through voter mandated utility tax cuts will effect them individually. The hoped for effect being to create a consensus for an unprecedented 3rd UUT increase ballot initiative in six years, along with a new Library parcel tax.

There is no indication regarding which City Councilmembers will be delivering these tax talks, or if any organizations have yet to accept the offer. It is hoped that at least some groups would pass on this opportunity out of the belief that any efforts of this kind should not be surreptitiously conducted behind the scenes, but rather such important news should be taken directly to the public.

More on this story as it develops.

If Sierra Madre's yellow water problem has eased, why this?

I received the following e-mail yesterday.

Hello Mr. Crawford,

I think you have covered this story before but in light of the new developments with the Gov. and his water use mandates I think it's time the city stop letting the water out at Orange Grove and Michillinda. I don't understand why they don't capture the water, instead they let it run down the street almost to Foothill. I can't imagine how many gallons of water are wasted where they could be recycled and used as water for the city plants or dumped back into the basin. This happens several times a week and I really don't think the general population realizes what is happening.

Thanks for your blog :)

A 26 year resident of SM

The observation is a very important one. The word coming out of the Water Department these last several months is colored water problems have largely been dealt with, the strategies of our water quality consultant have worked, and they have received no new resident complaints lately.

However, if this is so, then why is water still being flushed down the streets and into the storm sewers of Sierra Madre, and in such considerable quantities? In light of recent highly publicized news about the State of California being down to its last full year of water (link), the sight is an especially jarring one.

The following pictures were included with this e-mail.


sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

55 comments:

  1. I still have orange water. I have told Mr. Inman. I know I'm not the only one. We may just have to go bankrupt as a city in order to curb high payroll and perks. We simply can't afford these taxes anymore. I already spend a lot on bottled water and I get harped on for buying plastic. A parcel tax for the library? Really? I've heard they want to build a new one. Isn't that special! I am so sick of this city government. There was a blogger yesterday who said the city had 20 mil in the general fund. Is that true?

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    1. According to Bruce Inman ,you are a liar ! He has publicly stated there have been NO complaints of discolored water recently.
      If you are telling the truth and have an interest in getting some support for achieving a resolution of the discolored water problem, I suggest you publish your details with the Tattler. Tattler will shine more light on this issue than the obstructive Inman will.

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    2. E-mail pictures and descriptions to me at sierramadretattler@gmail.com.

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    3. There are no plans to build a new library.

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    4. There have been plans in the past. I think they've been on hold since the defeat of the Downtown Specific Plan. Sorry the link isn't easy:
      http://www.pbws.com/
      On pbws.com, click on portfolio, then institutional - last page, the Sierra Madre replacement library.

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    5. Right you are, 11:32. PBWS architect and Sierra Madre resident Fred Wesley had lots of plans for Sierra Madre expansion - the Wisteria condos, the new library....

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  2. It's deja vu all over again.

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  3. Does this mean our last two votes didn't count?

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    1. In Sierra Madre NO votes on taxes are non-binding.

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    2. I thought it was a violation to let water run into the street, "do as I say, not as I do, Bruce" if the pipes have to be flushed, put that water in the fire dept's tank truck and take it up to the spreading grounds!

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    3. The UUT Tax is dead in the water. Residents are now asking the city to live within its means. Its a strange concept but one that us mere mortals have to abide by every day. Having a separate library tax is just another gambit to get around Prop. 13. When you read the line items on your property tax bill, the tax and spend folks have inserted extra fees for schools, emergency services and now possiblly a library tax. I guess when you mention some specific issue rather than a general tax, some people may get fooled into supporting it. Say no to all new taxes. We are taxes enough and now with the water penalites, we will be potentially taxed even more. All costs are going up. We don't need any more taxes.

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    4. If they propose a parcel tax for the library, they just defeated the argument that the UUT has to pass to save the library. Dumb asses.

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    5. The UUT goes for staff raises and retirement benefits. Even the Library can't get in the way of that.

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    6. So the UUT isn't for the children? Uh oh.

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    7. The Public Works Dept have water tanker(s) ,so does the Fire Dept.
      They just are too 'overworked' to bother to set a good example.

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  4. From the picture of the water running down Michillinda it looks kind of dangerous. What happens if a car or bike hit that water and have an accident, who is responsible for the accident? Does that look like black ice where you can't see it until your right on it? At least if it was captured the opportunity for an accident would be reduced for the city being responsible.

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    1. When Inman was questioned about the water waste, he said the city did not have the equipment needed to capture & transport the water.

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    2. It's not just at that location. I've seen it more than once on Grandview close to Santa Anita.

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    3. 7:32 - very good for boogie boarding.

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    4. Hey Bruce, how about that big red water tank truck the fire dept has, Has it ever been used? how about now!

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    5. Bruce's bucket has a hole in it.

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    6. Did anyone notice if the sluice gate was lowered on the Wash to divert the water from the rain to the Spreading Grounds yesterday? The last failure to do this was the lame excuse they had not got the equipment/it was hard to do it/ the gate was old .....excuses for any work but ample justification for any benefits increase!

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  5. The part I don't get has to do with the stability of our population - how much has the population increased, and how much has the cost of city hall increased?

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  6. Sierra Madre needs to reduce expenses not raise taxes. I would start with the police department. How many people were on the payroll in 1980 and how many are on the payroll now. Are we getting better service now than then, we have a better computer system but need more people work it. If we have a bomb scare we call the Sheriff Department, how much did that cost us? Every week I see officers setting bad examples to the community. Things like 2 black and whites at a traffic stop and the person being stopped is elderly or a young mother with a kid or two in the car, or just driving faster than the posted speed limit or not making a full stop and a stop sign, how about when they park on a hill at an accident and they don't turn their wheels to the curb. It's stuff like that happening that makes me think the Sheriff can't be any worse but could be a lot cheaper.

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    1. I'm not sure what you're trying to convey? Women with children in the vehicle should be allowed to run stop signs and speed? Police should not assist each other? Police vehicles should aim their vehicles stopped in the street at bystanders and accident victims? Do you think we really need a bomb disposal unit? That alone would cost a few 100,000 dollars. Maybe we should get a helicopter and SWAT team............

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  7. Excellent photos!

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  8. Haven't heard a peep oput of the city on the amount of increased UUT revenue they're getting since the HUGE water rate increase and all other utilities have gone up (except maybe natural gas).

    Keep us in the dark and start crying the "we need more money" blues. Sheesh.

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  9. If the sheriffs department took over our police department wouldn't all the officers go on that department where they would be making more money thus getting a pay raise? Or do they have to qualify to be taken on? I'm on a fixed income that is reduced any time I pay more taxes and quite frankly we have hit the limit of belt tightening. We go out to dinner maybe once a month now and save in many other ways that sure makes for a reduced life style in our retirement. You know were not voting for more taxes, not in a long time have we voted for more taxes.

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  10. Why are the Mayor and Mayor Pro Tem campaigning for this tax hike behind the scenes? Are they hiding something?

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  11. Gear up now, don't wait until next Jan-March to talk to your neighbors about the UUT tax. Remind everyone of the two previous votes and to vote NO again and again and again.

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  12. Someone start a NO Sierra Madre UUT Tax Increase Facebook page so that the word is out there early and constant. Or a Change.org petition. We can't wait til the last minute. This is exhausting to have to fight city hall at evey turn.

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    1. Great idea. Social Media is a good way to get the word out to the citizens. We must remember that Government never sleeps and never stops trying to get more money from the taxpayers. We must stay vigilant. and we thank Mr. Mod for helping to lead the fight.

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    2. There is already a Facebook for no on the UUT. Check it out.

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    3. What beat UUT2 will also beat UUT3. No matter how they try and sell it, Sierra Madre doesn't want to give more money to a city hall that performs so poorly.

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    4. But how will Sierra Madre attract and retain employees? That is, other than the Platinum Pensions and the Gold Health Plans?

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    5. Let them go.

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  13. TV news last night mentioned that the state mandate on water conservation was going to limit deliveries to water departments based on their previous record of coservation and requiring larger conservation target numbers to cities who had not bothered to conserve. I am sure that I saw on the list that Arcadia (among a few other excessive users) was going to be at 35% reduction!

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    1. Obviously Jerry Brown does not understand the need for five bathroom modern family design.

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    2. Wasteful people will be forced to pay attention. Good!

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    3. Foreign Asian money in the form of loans is what keeps our bloated bureacracies afloat. Watch Sacramento start handing out McMansion exemptions.

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  14. Send your checks and money orders to Andre "Pay to Play" Coleman. With all these utility taxes and mandatory whatnots he's got bills to pay.

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  15. I can live without the library and will vote NO for the umpteenth time

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  16. UUT Facebook is from April 2014 election. Good but bring it up to date with the current threats of a repeat on the ballot. Early warning, early preparation to defeat it. UUT #3 Vote NO again!!!!

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  17. I find it offensive that after two ballot defears on a UUT increase the city would come back and try for a third time. Is democracy dead in this town?

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  18. there is almost no water, so we have to cut back. there is almost no more money, so the city will have to cut spending 25%

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    1. The state is down to its last year of water, and Jerry Moonbeam says we need to cut back 30%. So yeah, let's pour water into the streets and down the sewer.

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  19. Does flashing our water down the street, sewer, storm drain, or toilet, make it that our City Manager & Public Works Director are not liars!
    It is time to let them both go.
    Can we put that on the same ballot ?

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  20. I would hope they would ask to extend the UUT to 2020, when it would sunset because that's when a lot of the water bonds reach their maturity date, and we'll abruptly have all that revenue freed up. A good time to easily reduce taxes.

    If the sunset happens as it's supposed to in 2016, then the answer is to get rid of the paramedics (a relatively recent service), farm out as many of the city buildings as possible (which they are doing), and cut somewhere else by 250k.

    Of course, having to pay for imported water isn't helping things either.

    As for the draining water, I called about it way back when, and was informed that almost all Sierra Madre water that goes into storm drains gets recycled back into the system. They tend to divert the "first wash" out to the ocean because it contains the most contaminants. Which is why upstream folks have been sued by Santa Monica for bearing the brunt of all their water dumping.

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    1. How do they recycle storm sewer water back into the system?

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    2. 9:33 asks a good question. I am not sure about what 9:25 is saying here.

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    3. Where does the water go when it flows on the street? It goes into drains, which goes into sewer pipes. Where does the water go then? Straight to the ocean? It actually doesn't unless it's sewer system overflow from exceeding capacity, or highly contaminated first wash. All the rest, which is the vast majority, goes to wastewater treatment within the LACSD. http://www.lacsd.org/wastewater/wastewater_services/proposition_218/facilities.asp

      Right now our aquifer is at historic lows, and as part of a shared resources all communities that pump for it are required to reduce pumping while rainfall restores it. Except rainfall isn't restoring it. All communities are importing water to make up for reduced (or no pumping). This imported water messes up pipes, the colored water is then discharged back into the sewer pipes goes down into the LACSD, and they clean it up and use it again.

      There are all kinds of water sharing agreements, pumping agreements, river rights agreements and this ties into that in terms of what water we have access to. Send water here, gets used as wastewater there (or goes into recharge basins), agree to pipe water over there, so on and so on.

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    4. OK, but what does this have to do with flushing thousands of dollars of very expensive imported water that we are paying for down Sierra Madre's storm sewers? I am not sure I get the connection.

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    5. People are complaining that the water is getting wasted, and we shouldn't be flushing the system. in such a wasteful manner when the water could be used. It's getting used. The fact that Sierra Madre can't pump groundwater because the aquifer is at historic lows, uses more water than it gets from its local stream and aquifer, and must import water from somewhere means the only options are to import water that is going to turn a weird color. Then the option is to keep it in the pipes and drink it, or flush it out where it gets recycled in another place.

      I'm not sure what answer you are looking for. Why is Sierra Madre flushing out water no one will drink because of the color? Because no one will drink it because of the color. Why are we paying so much for this sub-par water? Because we can't get water any other way.

      Now, if someone would like to figure out how to do a new water reclamation system that allows us to take the water that goes into our sewers and put it directly into our lawns, instead of using the shared LACSD system (which I feel like might give us lower rates on imported water because our shared water "donations" are counted somehow... but I could be wrong) then let's talk about that.

      But the information you need is "What are the benefits we receive from LACSD recycled wastewater? Would it be to our benefit to pay a ton of money to capture that water and use it to recharge our own aquifer and water our own lawns?"

      My guess is a city that has been freaking out about water bonds used for water reservoirs is not interested in paying the big bucks needed to capture and recycle sewer line water for local use. Though that actually might protect our long term future more than the current plan. But I don't know exactly what the cost/benefit analysis is with the LACSD anyway.

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    6. Simple question, actually. Why do you feel that the use that wasted water is being put to, far down the line and in another jurisdiction altogether, is a good thing? How does it benefit us? It seems to me is we are paying for that water, and people who barely know we exist are getting a far better use than we are. The rate and taxpayers of Sierra Madre are not a limitless source of revenue.

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    7. Why do I think that the water we are getting from Colorado snow pack, being imported into our city that doesn't generate enough water to sustain our citizenry, on top of an aquifer that our three-city agreement hasn't protected that watershed, think it's a good thing that Colorado snow-pack water is being captured downstream for re-use instead of going into the ocean?

      Because we have no way to catch that water and I'm glad it's being caught and reclaimed for use because someone did have the willingness to plan ahead and pay the money to do it.

      As for how it benefits us, you're making an assumption that it doesn't. I very clearly said I'm not sure what benefits we receive from sending this down to the LACSD. We are part of a large group of people sending this water downstream for reclamation. Perhaps the reason we get Colorado river water at all is because it's a credit against water we provide for reclamation.

      I also imagine the cost to reclaim the water locally would be very expensive, especially for a much smaller volume overall. The cost of reclaiming alone could be much higher than the added cost of loss.

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