Monday, May 18, 2015

Take The Noah Green Challenge: What Would You Cut?

Ready for the Noah Green challenge?
You might recall that during the last City Council election candidate Noah Green challenged the residents of Sierra Madre to identify the things they would cut should the UUTax Measure go down to defeat. Something that we here on The Tattler laughed about loud and long. The question seemed absurd. Why would the residents ever have to make those cuts? Isn't that what we elect City Councilmembers to do? The dirty work?

But now it is more than one year later, and identifying those cuts has apparently become the responsibility of residents just about as much as city officials. So we have some work to do.

Today we are going to take a second look at the Noah Green Challenge. I'd have thought that turning down a utility tax increase twice would be enough myself, and that local government might have heeded the will of the people and gotten this unpleasant yet necessary stuff done by now. But that is apparently not the case. And the question, "What would you cut?" is now being asked quite often at a lot of meetings all over town. It is a funny old world we live in.

It has come to that. So tell me partner, what exactly is it that you would want to cut?

As Sierra Madre's budget outreach (or is that input?) roadshow continues, it is now becoming obvious that sides are now being drawn and cherished constituencies fought for. And while people are not really telling anybody too much about what they would want to cut, they sure are happy to let anyone who will listen know what shouldn't be. Not a totally unexpected result if you think about it.

Pat Alcorn, who was unfortunate enough to have to run for City Council on the same ticket as me, has become an outspoken advocate for saving the things she believes in. As well she should. Here is what she had to say on Facebook yesterday:

At Tuesday's Council Meeting, the suggestion was proposed that in order to have a balanced budget, the Sierra Madre Library be cut to perhaps two part-time employees and vastly reduced hours. This would fulfill the State requirements of not closing the library completely. It was also proposed that the Community Services Department be closed.

These suggestions would mean losing a vastly talented Library Director and experienced staff, and a Community Service Manager and staff plus cutting out those vital services that make our town, OUR TOWN. -- MWTR, 4th of July Parade and celebrations, concerts in the park, Huck Finn Fishing Derby, Halloween Happenings, to name a few.

To tell you the truth, I don't necessarily disagree with Pat Alcorn. Especially on the Library question. It seems to me that those who support keeping the Library, and those who want to preserve Sierra Madre from the McMansion wrecking ball, are actually on two sides of the same coin. Both are preservationist at heart, and want to save the things that make Sierra Madre the quaint village they love.

One side wants to preserve their idea of a small town, which includes having a Library. Something the PUSD schools in town do not have, as many parents know. The other side of that coin also wants to preserve Sierra Madre, with their focus being to keep the town as it is. Quaint, idiosyncratic, and not filled with huge and ugly parvenu palaces like Arcadia.

In my opinion those who are politically pitting these two preservationist communities against each other are some of the most cynical individuals imaginable. And I am sure everyone knows who they are, and the dishonorable reasons behind why they are doing this. It is about as nasty a divide and conquer strategy as I have ever seen.

See how easy it is to say what you wish to keep, but not what you'd want to cut? The cutting thing is hard and unpleasant, and nobody wants to be the one to do that. It is much easier to be a savior, especially when it is mostly somebody else's money.

So that all said, I will now tell you what I think should be cut. And it would be that one big thing now receiving the lion's share of this City's tax money. By quite a considerable length. Doesn't that make sense? After all, that is where the real Lulu Belle is to be found.

Here is the General Fund pie chart from the Budget Community Input Meetings handout.


As you can easily see by this fine and colorful piece of graphic art, the vast majority of this city's tax money goes to pay for things like cops. Public Safety makes up 58% (or $5.7 million dollars) of the General Fund Budget. Nearly $4 million of that goes to the Sierra Madre Police Department. So doesn't it make sense to cut the most from the place where the largest chunk of the money is found?

Now before we get any farther, I need to say something else. There is a false dichotomy that has dominated the public safety debate here for quite some time here. That being in order to save a lot of money the city would need to get rid of the Sierra Madre Police Department and replace it with the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department. It comes up as often as the topic itself.

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Not only would this be a very unpopular move here politically, it is also not likely save this city all that much money. The numbers just do not pan out. And once the SMPD is out and the Sheriff's Department in, I am sure the LASD would start nickel and diming this city to death. In the end any savings will likely be minimal.

Besides, when things get really bad doesn't the city just call in the Sheriffs anyway?

The real way to save money would be to both reduce the size of the Sierra Madre Police Department and cut back its overly generous benefits and retirement funding. In a low crime community such as this one, the almost $4 million dollars a year now being spent to police so small a town as Sierra Madre is an absurdly large amount of money.

We're talking about a town of less that 11,000 people. $1,500 a year for every family of 4 in Sierra Madre to pay cops for protection from trashcan invading bears and parking scofflaws is a bit much to ask. It just isn't necessary.

Sierra Madre has been a low crime community for about as long as anyone can remember. Year after year articles (link) are printed declaring our community to be one of the state's safest. Our fortuitous out of the way location makes this a place most criminals are quite leery about. There is no immediate access to the 210 freeway, something that makes absconding with the loot a risky proposition.

There are other reasons as well, mostly to do with income levels and other demographics. And while it is obvious why the SMPD's union would want to take all of the credit for Sierra Madre's decades old low crime figures, it just isn't very accurate or true. It has a lot more to do with the low density nature and defensible location of the community itself.

Also, haven't you grown sick and tired of reading stories about all of the stupid and petty lawsuits this city endures from the SMPD? They have been a very entitled group of litigious budget killers for years now, with only Michael Colantuono and his law partners profiting. To the tune of millions of dollars. Link here to see an example of what I'm talking about.

So this is what I would cut. Reduce the SMPD's expenditures by about a million or so dollars, or around 25% of its yearly budget. We would then be well on our way to achieving sustainable financial independence for Sierra Madre.

Nip and tuck a few other things (Paramedics, the so-called Planning Department, various defined benefit plans), and living within the constraints of a 6% UUT would be far more achievable than what certain disreputable individuals are running around and saying.

Keep the Library, keep the Fishing Derby, the 4th of July Parade and the SMPD. Can all of that nonsense about the Sheriffs and put the Sierra Madre Police Department on a badly needed cash diet. End the stupid "we're all gonna die" paranoia campaign the SMPD's lawsuit crazy union is running as well. It is dishonest and destructive. All they want is your money.

This has all largely been SMPD union employee salary and benefits driven mission creep anyway, steadily run over the course of far too many years. It has precious little to do with real public safety issues.

There you go, problem solved.

So that is what I would cut. How about you?

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

84 comments:

  1. as we are all aware, what is really killing the city are the pension and benefit payouts that are on the increase. Yhe city needs to get rid of the defined benefit plan and return to the defined contribution plan they had before the likes of Doug Hayes et al voted it in. The WSJ and various other financial journals have run articles about companies that have either paid out lump sum payouts (at discounted rates) or transferred the defined benefit risk to an insurer through an annuity buyout. All current employees are put into theses plans and all future employees are hired with a defined contribution plan. Yes, it's expensive, but in the long run, it will bring the financial status of the city back to sanity.( or at leat as close as it can get.)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The biggest budget buster for any city has been the "defined benefit" pension plans which allow City Council's to make extravagant promises to the public employee unions either in exchange for contributions to their election campaigns when they were running for office or to keep the peace during their tenure in office. There is no downside for those elected officials to make those extravagant promises because the bad consequences from those promises don't rear their ugly head until long after those City Council Members are out of office. "Defined contribution" plans, on the other hand, force the City Council to actually put money aside in each year's budget to cover any promises made in regards to future pension obligations which forces a City to live within its means. This is the most important measure a city can take in order to achieve fiscal responsibility. No more pie in the sky unsustainable promises. It would certainly constrain City Council's in what they can promise which is why every union in every city in the country is against it. What does that also tell you about whose interest the union is looking out for? As long as they get their money, they don't care if a City goes bankrupt. The only question is whether the Sierra Madre City Council has the courage to enact the single most important measure you can possibly take to eliminate budget busting (leading to insolvency) unfunded pension liabilities.

      Delete
    2. If you agree that managing the City of Sierra Madre is very similar to running a business - you start by appointing a competent ,honest leader. Without competence and honesty any business is compromised.
      So all this talk of budgets is premature until we get new management in the City of Sierra Madre.
      This discussion is timely if you need evidence of how badly the business is run .The budget is a symptom,not a cause.
      When can we fix the management problem?

      Delete
  2. First cut: Elaine Aguilar, she has known for YEARS that theUUT was returning to 6%. She had years to plan for this. Now I have to attend community outreach meetings to tell her how to do her job. Hire a city manager who knows how to plan ahead for the future. Elaine did NOT do her job... She needs to go. Excuses excuses excuses ...Enough allready. She is incompetent should be dismissed immediately .

    ReplyDelete
  3. au contraire, Elaine is doing her job. her jobs make sure all the city employees get the best deal possible and that the city always has lots of mone to spend. she is a good GOVERNMENT employee.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. City government's #1 priority is itself.

      Delete
  4. I would throw all city jobs up for grabs and make all employees reapply for them. Invite anyone else interested to apply as well. I am sure there would be a lot of applicants. Use this to drive down wages and benefits.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Newport Beach agrees with you and is going though the process now

      Delete
  5. When it comes to the police, if you have any openings in one of the safest cities in American, there would be a line around the block. I agree with everything the Tattler has said. Its nice to have a local police department but it should not consume that big a slice of the city's budget. They need to make due with less.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Is the Tattler now making a sort of back-handed apology to Noah Green. Maybe Green's mantra of "What would you cut?" is an important question that needs to be asked and answered.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What would you cut?

      Delete
    2. It's a helluva lot easier to ask residents in "town halls" than it is for staff to actually (excuse the shouting) DO THEIR DAMN JOB and figure it out. That is what they're getting paid to do, isn't it?

      Besides, we all know they'll cut to inflict the most pain so we'll all beg to pay higher taxes. Why do you think the Feds close National Parks when the budget isn't done?

      Delete
    3. I'd cut naked pictures of Noah Green in a hammock. Let's protect our town.

      Delete
    4. I think you missed the point, 7:20. Noah never wanted to cut anything. He asked that question because he thought nobody would be able to answer it properly.

      Delete
    5. That's true. Noah never met a tax hike he didn't like. That is, when he bothered to actually vote.

      Delete
    6. That's true. LIke any poliitican they never want to made the tough choices to cut anything. The easy solution is always to reach into the wallet of the taxpayer.

      Delete
    7. 7:33 is right, they always propose those cuts that inflict the maximum amount of pain as possible on the residents in order to get us to begging for more tax increases. Its a common union tactic and you will see it in every city. Rather than tell us we need to cut bloat and inefficiences and extravagant pay and pensions for city workers, we are always told of the dire consequences that will happen - things like police response times will increaes, the library will have to be shuttered, paramedics won't be available to take you to a hospital, etc... They literally try to scare you into accepting further unneeded tax increases. That's the game. We should not be surprised by it.

      Delete
    8. Noah Boo Hoo Green

      Sorry I can't look at the guys picture without laughing at the wormy absurdity of him bawling at the Kiwanis debate of how much he really wanted to be elected to something and that was why he was running for Council

      Delete
  7. I've said it before and I'll say it again I don't know much about our police department but here are a few thoughts regarding reducing costs.

    Instead of hiring new recruits and training them, hire retired already trained officers on a part time bases.

    Establish shift hours that benefit the city, not just the police department members.

    Know that critics argue that law enforcement agencies should not be part of the revenue-generating process so don't do that..

    Contract with local police departments for services that SM doesn’t require enough to warrant hiring full time paid positions or that may be less expensive in the long run.

    Increasing business traffic increases crime and police department costs, take steps to not promote excess downtown traffic and business costs.

    Involve officers in the problem-solving process of saving money, items like turning off vehicles when just sitting in one place for more than 5 min, get officer feedback on how they would save money.

    Learn what is a standard number of police officers per thousand population and work towards these numbers if we are out of line. Keep in mind that Sierra Madre is not a high crime rate city, also compare number of officers 20 years ago with number today. The city hasn't increased the population that much.

    Does Sierra Madre do crime mapping to identify trends and patterns and allocate personnel accordingly for maximum savings and safety?

    Have local volunteers ride along with officers, volunteers can stay in the back ground and act as observers and radio for back up if needed.

    Seriously evaluate cost savings of going with the Sheriffs Department and keep personal interests out of the equation.

    Do note that just like the Sheriffs Department Sierra Madre Police Officers also live out of the city so reporting to work in an emergency would be the same. If I could attend a budget meeting these are some of what I would bring up. It is time that Sierra Madre reduces police costs, so, I would think the above mentioned have been covered but just in case there is my 2 cents worth.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Gee, these suggestions are good - and in fact that is just what the police department has done the past few years. Any other good ideas?

      Delete
    2. Cut the SMPD budget by a million. That would help considerably.

      Delete
    3. Gee, Reduce staff fire a few! Da

      Delete
    4. Police officers and others should not be able to retire at 50 or 55 or whatever it is. Guess what, even they know that because they don't retire. They just get another job after they "retire" and so they now get paid another salary coming in on top of their lifetime pension. Don't get me wrong, I love cops but they have really milked all the good will they have garnered over the years into really lavish retirements. I'm not saying they should walk the beat at the age of 50 but they can do a desk job or some such thing until the age of 60. That's still a pretty young age to retire at too. Unless of coarse we all want to work longer and retire later so that we can pay for all these government workers retiring so early. Pretty soon, we will be paying more money to those who are "retired" and not working than to those who are actively working and performing services to the residents.

      Delete
  8. The past City Council found that approx. $100,000 of savings could be found by contracting out policy dispatch services. I'm sure we could save at least that much now. The Fire Dept. has outsourced dispatch thru Verdugo for over 10 years now.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The police dispatch person in Sierra Madre is the only person in the City that can be contacted 24/7. Do you really want to cut the one person that can act immediately in an emergency instead of going through a switchboard?

      Delete
    2. Do we still have a volunteer fire department like it says on that sign on the building?

      Delete
    3. 9:42, to put it politely, cut the crap. 911 answers the phone 24/7. Geez.

      Delete
  9. Sierra Madre has a big herd of sacred cows. I think that if you told people they could all be spared the butcher's knife by cutting the PD budget by a quarter everyone would be fine with it.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It should be across the broad cuts with the largest cut backs coming from the police deptartment

      Delete
  10. "The bureaucracy is expanding to meet the needs of the expanding bureaucracy." -- Oscar Wilde

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So True, some of our city employees have expanded quite a bit.

      Delete
    2. That says it all 7:54 and that's what has been happening in every city in the state once Jerry Brown allowed the public employees to unionize in 1973 or thereabouts. It created a monster. Just like GM stopped being a car company and became an employee benefits company that built cars on the side, city government has become so focused on employee benefits that it now provides services to the residents on the side.

      Delete
  11. All the police vehicles look fairly new, I would hope that's because they are well maintained. With communications like they are today Sierra Madre does not need a vehicle to go into hot pursuit out of town. We should be keeping the vehicles for longer periods. Any out of town training should be in a cost efficient car or schedule training here in town. Talking about training, it appears that some officers could use more fire range and class training, would it save money to have an indoor training range here in town?

    ReplyDelete
  12. The pie chart is helpful. I wonder what the respective charts looked like ten, twenty, and thirty years ago. Maybe if we just follow those past examples we would be sustainable again.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Does Sierra Madre PD have a license plate reader so when cars come into town they are automatically read for any wants or warrants. Being that burglaries are a problem a plate reader may help out. Does the Department have unmarked cars to patrol in a more unnoticed state?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't want Big Brother monitoring me every time I drive my car. No.Freaking.Way.

      Delete
    2. they have for a few years had a plate reader

      Delete
    3. Bye-bye 4th Amendments rights.

      Delete
    4. That pesky Constitution and the Bill of Rights is always a probelm to the big govt. types.

      Delete
  14. I believe the city of Pasadena has taken out bonds for salaries. Do we want that? The water department alone is 12 mil in debt. No police chief should be paid big bucks when he already has a pension from another city. Our chief makes big bucks when all is said and done. I'd love to see him chase down a felon. Make the PD as small as possible. Outsourcing will not settle the budget problem and I am told that it will be months of negotiating and renegotiating. Get rid of any employee that has been hired in the last year. GET RID OF ELAINE. Supervisors should be exempt from belonging to the union. The library can be cut as a compromise for keeping it open. The alternative is to let the city go bankrupt and start again.

    ReplyDelete
  15. You know I don't think cutting the PD is a fair deal. I agree with looking at the benefit and pension plans paid out to current employees now. Cutting out the entire community services department and the proposed decreases to the library staff and hours STILL will not close the budget gap. Everyone has seen how much is paid out in benefits....start there!

    ReplyDelete
  16. If the Sheriffs Department absorbed Sierra Madre's officers wouldn't they be getting better pay and benefits than they are now. Also for the younger, eager officers this would allow them to serve in a more crime ridden area so they could get some of that exciting work.

    ReplyDelete
  17. 8:26, if you have a cell phone on you then big brother is already listening and watching you. Maybe you even have an On Star device already on your car. The police already has cameras around town, are they keeping the crime down I wonder?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I don't have OnStar because I don't drive a Govt. Motors car.

      SMPD doesn't have my cell phone info without a court order. Try harder, 8:35.

      Delete
    2. I love OnStar. I never get lost.

      Delete
    3. Big Brother never loses you, either.

      Delete
    4. Wait until Hasan Ikhrata gets to put a black box in your car.

      Delete
    5. California really wants us all to leave.

      Delete
    6. Not while there is still some meat on our bones.

      Delete
    7. I left. Cali gets no more tax $$ from me!

      Delete
  18. It is a proven fact that every time the city wants more money they talk about cutting the services that get the people in the mood to raise taxes. That's the way it has been for ever and that is the tactic being used here. If we went with the sheriffs department at least they wouldn't be suing is and SM could establish the rules going into such a contract.

    ReplyDelete
  19. The City needs to live within its means! There should be across the board cut backs starting with the police department. Our village is 11,000 strong with community watch programs, police volunteers and police cadets, along with 36 police officers. The City of Sierra Madre has more police than a penitentiary has guards. There must be a lot of bad people in town that need to be policed.

    ReplyDelete
  20. If we got a petition going asking the council to replace the city administrator and others that have made these decisions that have gotten us into this mess, would that work? Also replace the law firm that we pay so highly for that still gets us into paying higher litigation fees. Lets make sure we keep the underlings that have been working under these bad decision makers. It is past time for a change because what were paying for lately is not working, in fact we are in bad shape right now and all of this is no surprise. The only surprise is that it's business as usual. It appears that city council in the past has wanted this I would like to think that the present council would like to get someone in office that represents the people not the Sacramento builders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. 9:06, we tried to get a different law firm, and their bid was just about the same. Guess what their expertise was?
      Water.

      Delete
    2. Elaine needs to be replaced!!!
      Beginning with her first day as City Manager, all city service fees have gone up 100 percent and she still can not balance the budget. Every department under her control has seen an increase in the number of employees, including the fire dept which used to be all volunteer and now has paid positions. She has increased the health care benefits to all city employees...we are the number 1 city in the state for the highest contributions to employee health care costs, Elaine Aguilar is not qualified for the position of City Manager and yet she is being paid handsomely for it.

      Delete
  21. 8:39 is right, look at the POA hand book for raising money for benefits.

    ReplyDelete
  22. Looks like the Tattler Community Input Meeting has a better turnout than some of the city ones.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This one is waaaaaaay more interesting.

      Delete
  23. Cut police budget by 25% and Paramedics by 30% and Library budget by 10% and we're good.

    The real cuts should come at the top, the whole state of America has gotten highly bureacratic with gobs of money paid for jobs that are incredibly hard because they should be done by two people. Nobody wants to do these 60 hour a week jobs and so you pay 150k to 200k for them. But you split the work in half, and now it's a pleasant 30 hour job you could pay 50k per person for 2 people to do. Huge savings.

    The trouble with police budgets is retirement comes at 55. Honestly it might be better to replace some of the cops with a security guard-type company. So many of the things that need doing at a low level, do not need weapon training or much skill at all.

    ReplyDelete
  24. Don't forget about the vultures circling to solve our budget problem at the expense of ruining our City. Mater Dolorosa is going to every budget meeting and giving their little pitch about how the extra revenue from building the big housing project over there will bring in much needed funds to solve everything. So you have the Passionists in Chicago who own the land, Cameron Thornton from Burbank and Jerry Pearson from Arcadia wanting to tell Sierra Madre what to do. We are the ones that have to live in the town long after that project gets built. We can't be enticed by the carrots that they are trying to dangle. At all those meetings, they are trying to cozy up to the City Council members who attend and pitch their snake oil to them. The message we need to tell them is that our town is not for sale! Try our neighbor Arcadia for that!

    ReplyDelete
  25. This is all union driven. Harabedian and Goss are their boys. It is going to be a real fight.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It is interesting since we started to cut back the slush funds (by defeating the outrageous UUT increases in 2012 & 2014) that spending has decreased and head count decreased. Yet the City has had a budget SURPLUS every year since 2012. But they cry and cry and attempt to spend more every year. Cut the money down, they can focus a lot better.

      Delete
    2. Part of the problem is City Hall is staffed with people who believe difficulties can only be solved by obtaining and spending more money. What we need are managers who know how to solve problems with less.

      Delete
    3. You mean like in the real world?

      Delete
    4. That would be nice.

      Delete
  26. Our city manager can't manage! We need city council members who will find someone who can.

    ReplyDelete
  27. 8:57, you just don't know do you. No court order is needed to see where you are, don't need to listen to you in order to see location either. A lot of rental cars now have black boxes installed with locators that tell how car was driven.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll type slowly so you can understand: SMPD cannot see my phone records without a warrant. So says the U.S. court.

      Delete
    2. Somebody is just a little bit naive.

      Delete
  28. Why don't we / why can't we act like a real city!

    These are my cuts!
    1) city coluncil states that city hall has 110 city employees,
    a) we must cut 25% of the 110 full time employees jobs,
    b) is it true that the city manager just hired 3 more full time employees for an additional cost of $600k or more per year? Where does she think this money is coming from?
    2) Salaries
    a) all city employees' salaries, presently earned must be reduced by 15% or more
    3) health benefits & death benefits
    a) city employee earning between:
    1) $0 - 50,000 salaries will be paid $300 a month,
    2) $50,001 + salary earners will be paid $500 a month
    3) that could be a yearly savings of $2 million dollars a year or more?
    4) building department
    a) our fees needs to be reduced in order that property owners want to do business with city hall,
    1) The $4,000 cup is all bull shit, there are few to no player wanting to play the game
    b) we need to be a community that is builder friendly
    1) if remodeling & new construction complies to city and state building standards, push it through, do not delay the plans by 12 - 24+ months and further do not refuse new construction, those building fees & new property tax basis are all ne income to our city,

    ReplyDelete
  29. Continued from post above ( 2 of 3 )

    5) the time has elapsed, we need new city management, there needs to be new thinking for the benefit of all residents and property owners, otherwise the city as we know it will "continue to die a slow death"
    6) If the city choose to raise the water & sewer costs,
    a) then city hall "must improve the infrastructure",
    1) why has city hall failed to improve the infrastructure?
    2) Why has city hall published that our city has 300+ major water leaks, when in effect a 3rd party inspector failed to find any of the major leaks which city hall reported?
    b) no more commingling of water & sewer dept. monies with the general fund
    7) Water & sewer enterprise
    a) the same "salaried city management employees" who have made poor city decisions, who have been paid to mismanage city hall assets and the water & sewer enterprises,
    a) the water & sewer enterprise must be separated / different management from city hall. The commingling of funds and inter distribution of monies needs to stop! Pledging of water and sewer enterprises as collateral for repayment of long term debts / bonds "resulting in city loans" needs to stop.
    b) if the city cannot afford to pay "cash" for purchases, then we do without. NO MORE LONG TERM DEBT!
    c) Swimming Pool - It was found that city hall had failed to run the swimming pool asset. An outside company was brought in which turned out to be a management improvement improvement "stated & quoted by all city council members"
    d) therefore, lease the city library to the friends of the library, let them make it a success, city hall and city council sure can't and have not been able to do that…
    e) then that leads to more questions, maybe city hall & city council does not have the ability to run, or operate any part of Sierra Madre correctly, maybe we need "Change of management"…
    8) Bonds & long term debt
    1) we need to find a way to get rid of & retire those debts, the interest is killing us!
    9) If you know it or not, walk the streets and ask questions, The residents are revolting…
    1) they do not want the UUT "10% Utility tax"
    2) they do not want the Franchise "15% Utility tax"
    3) there is "No Trust for city council decisions or city hall management decisions"

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think the only thing worth agreeing with the above post is that the citizens do not want a 10% UUT. It is ridiculous to think that if Arcadia can pump the water from the basin, that Sierra Madre could. The old saying "water runs down hill" is appropriate here. Waterworks can survive because they are a private company. If the City were able to charge the rates that Waterworks does, then they could run the pool. State law says the City can't charge more than the service costs, therefore, they could never make a profit on the pool let alone make enough for maintenance. The Friends make about $60,000 per year on their fund raising, hardly enough to run the Library. The money basically comes from the citizens of Sierra Madre, but only manages to pay for the special programs, not staff, maintenance, and materials. Library services are free. There is no way the Friends (a non-profit organizations) could charge for library services to make up for the short-fall of the fund-raising activities.
      The full time employees just hired are for the planning dept. the finance department. Can't think of a third, but you are crazy if you think the city can run without those two department staff. Let's face it. Do you want Sierra Madre to stay as it is, or do you want to become a county entity, with all of its development rules, answering to the county supervisors, losing control over what we all want? Or do you want to at least pay your share and keep Sierra Madre the town that you say you want.

      I would go for an 8% UUT with no sunset. It will take some cost-cutting, it would take lay offs. If you read the material there was a projected shortfall even at 10% so some cost cutting must be done, but be reasonable, Sierra Madre does not have a tax base that will survive on just business and property.

      Delete
    2. Run for City Council and do something about it!

      Delete
  30. POST 3 of 3

    4) the residents no longer want to pay
    a) those excessive city salaries & health benefits,
    b) city halls poor choice as to defending those city law suits…re:
    1) police & union suing city hall,
    2) heldreaths v city hall,
    3) chineese mafia threatening to sue city hall for $32 million dollars,
    4) city hall suing Arcadia of water,
    for heaven's sake, the city of Arcadia Public works yard / water pump station is just 1/5th of a mile due south of Sierra Madre public works water pump station which has No water available to pump! Get real Sierra Madre, must improve the water infrastructure, Sierra Madre can have all the available water also to pump, Arcadias ( 3 major electric motors are causing to flow water when our wells are dry! If you have a better explanation why Arcadia can produce water from the same "field wide water reservoir" and Sierra Madre can't, I would love to hear a qualified engineers explanation, Bruce Inman is not a licensed engineer
    5) San Juan Capistrano tierred water rates are found to be "illegal & un constitutional" by state and apopealat courts. San Juan Capistrano was instructed the return the residents over payment for water,
    a) Sierra Madre City Hall should be asked to return "all illegal water monies charged" residents, regarding the tierred water rates…

    DOES ANYONE CHOOSE TO COMMENT???

    ReplyDelete
  31. Please get rid of Elaine, she is a problem that none of need explain.
    Cut the employees in City Hall, many are doing nothing.
    Cut back the police force, too many doing zero.
    Do not close the library.
    We need to get the message to everyone that reading creates an intelligent society.
    Besides, I appreciate the summer reading program of which I would not be able to have in my own town if
    you were to close the library. My children need to benefit from a library, not just google.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ask your children if they would rather go to the library and read a book, or download it on to a device.
      "Not just google"? There's a lot more than google.

      Delete
    2. There's been a technological revolution. You don't need a library in order to read a book.

      Delete
    3. The Library won't close. As I understand it, the City Charter requires there to be a library.

      Delete
  32. 6:26 did not say phone records, said locations, you should read slower.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Relax, 10:49. If you stop posting, there'll be less chance that people will figure out how naive you are.

      Delete
  33. Is there anyone here who knows how many books the library lends in a year? With a yearly budget of $804,000, I am trying to figure out how much it costs per book lent to run the Library. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
  34. Why, I believe I would cut off my shorts and pose for a photo

    ReplyDelete