Tuesday, June 9, 2015

City Council: More Utility Tax or City Employee Whacks?

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The community input (do not say outreach) meetings are over, and now the City Council, armed with your concise and carefully stated opinions on these matters, will deliberate and then make an effort to try and come to some sort of understanding on these troublesome matters. The choices to be pondered include cutting loose employees, sending departments and services into an institutional abyss from which very few return, or go back to the ballot and try for a third time to get folks to vote themselves a bumping big tax hike.

Something the good people of Sierra Madre have already refused to do in 2012 and 2014. This despite the blandishments, bull, baloney, bromides and out and out begging of the previous several City Councils. Yes, indeed. My personal take here is that this decision could be an extremely close thing.

Mayor Pro Tem Gene "Forrest" Goss has already stated that he wants to take another swing at raising the UUT rate. No matter what you might have said at those input meetings. His mind is apparently set and will not be changed by anything that you may have had to offer. Then again, for the likes of Gene Goss there are no problems that a tax increase cannot solve. Think of it as winning the lottery. It is wonderful fun and requires absolutely no brainwork or effort.

John Harabedian has stated that he is in favor of a lot of the proposed reductions, but believes that a UUT increase is also in order. Being a bit more of a thinker than Gene, former Mayor Harabedian has apparently decided that should these cuts go through, the people of Sierra Madre would be so horrified by the results that they will literally climb over mighty mountains to vote themselves a tax hike next April. In the process helping to pay off John's debt to the cop union.

Rachelle Arizmendi and Denise Delmar are the most likely to have listened to what those attending the community input meetings had to say over the last few weeks, and will gamely attempt to tailor their efforts to reflect those opinions. Something that will not be easy because while most people do not want to increase their taxes, there isn't much they would care to see go away, either. Unlike with the General Plan outreach meetings, a hoped for clarity was not delivered this time.

Assuming that Councilmembers Arizmendi and Delmar sense that the voters do not particularly want the City Council to second guess their previous two verdicts and override them on utility tax increases (which is where I believe they will come down), that leaves Mayor John Capoccia in sole possession of a swing vote.

As you will perhaps recall, John Capoccia ran for his City Council seat as a fiscal conservative, and therefore opposed a proposed utility tax increase in 2012. Something that then Mayor Buchanan, along with Councilmember bobble heads MoranWalsh and Mosca, had attempted to push all the way up to 12%. A rate so high that it had never even been attempted in California before. Or since then, for that matter. You'd have to be nuts to even try it.

However, in 2014 John Capoccia reversed himself and strongly supported a 10% utility tax hike. Also amongst the very highest rates statewide. Despite his demonstrative support it also went down to an ignominious defeat.

Capoccia has since supported every rate and fee hike put before him as well. And unless the 2012 tax fighter manqué John Capoccia has somehow escaped from the General Fund purgatory he has spent the last few years wandering in, the Mayor will come down close to the same position as John "Fire Them & Rehire Them" Harabedian.

That is how I see things going down. I hope I'm wrong and Sierra Madre's elected officials will instead do the right thing and honor the thousands of resident anti-tax increase votes cast in 2012 and 2014. Rather than trying to decipher the eclectic opinions of those two hundred or so people who showed up at the community input meetings.

But I doubt that will happen, and next April the good citizens of Sierra Madre will be forced to revote on something they voted against twice before.

And at considerable taxpayer expense, I might add.

But Mod! What does the Agenda Report say?

Funny you should ask. Here it is (link):


If I were you, I'd pay especially close attention to that "alternative" at the end. My guess is it's an option that at least two City Councilmembers already fully support, and will push hard to make happen.

Et Cetera

On May 25 I posted an article here called "Why Is The Sierra Madre Police Department Offering To Make The Least Amount Of Budget Cuts?" I thought it asked some of the questions that needed to be asked.

Rather than my reposting all of that today, you can link to it here.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

62 comments:

  1. Don't ya love the term "revenue increases". Sounds so much better than "tax increases".

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    1. I guess they're saving heavy lumber terminology such as "revenue enhancement" and "fund augmentation" for when the next round of UUT voting gets closer.

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    2. Fairer revenue inflows.

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    3. Progressive revenue enrichment.

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    4. Are you saying "duh" to me?

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  2. I remember Feinstein using the term, "shortfall of revenue" a long time ago. Nothing has changed since then. Any tax proposed will not fix the problem. We'll have the same problem next year and the next. I'm still dumb enough to think elected officials are supposed to listen to you not have their own agenda. Nothing about these so-called town halls has been honest. I fear Mr. Mod. is right. We will face another ballot. But wait, maybe so many inspired people will show up to speak about the horn. Everything else will have to be put off. And oh, let's not forget the forming of commissions-that will delay everything further. Why were these boobs elected if they can't figure out how to get us out of the mess their cronies got us into? And the General Plan is still not passed. I will be there tonight and I promise not to vomit when I hear Gene Goss speak,

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    1. Why don't they use the term "excess of spending" which is what causes a "shortfall of revenue". Duh!

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    2. It's a simple money matter.

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    3. It's part of the process.

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  3. Didn't hear any salary renegotiations proposed.

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    1. This is all union driven. They are fighting to protect $160,000 SMPD compensations.

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    2. Don't need to renegotiate the SM Police contract. It's expiring in a few months. Negotiations for the new contract need to be "everything is on the table" and "we don't have any money for big raises" which is what the union heard after the 2012 UUT defeat.

      Lack of increasing tax $$ coming in sure makes negotiations simpler.

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    3. By my calculation that comes to $48 per traffic ticket.

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    4. A UUT increase would make the negotiations so simple. All the city would need to say is "How much would you like?"

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    5. Just like Joffe & Buchanan in 2008. "Peace in our time."

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    6. Contract negotiations are held behind closed doors and not heard by the tax payers. One must realize that 911 call are outsourced, parking tickets are outsourced, we have a jail but don't use it, that's outsourced. Elaine says we still have a volunteer fire department but we pay them. The PD has to call for back-up from Arcadia, in broad daylight, to enter a house that was ransacked. Where was the Chief? He couldn't back them up? Laughing is now out of control!

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    7. fyi for any of you that are new to Sierra Madre

      we all know if you see a SMPD officer with his or her gun drawn, hit the deck and stay down cause no telling where bullets may fly

      like in the back of unarmed man, shot in the SMPD garage - the SMPD needs more of our budget cause of how downright scary they are when it counts

      thank goodness for outsourcing lol

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  4. Say, why doesn't Denise Delmar head up the SMPD contract negotiations? We've seen how lightweight negotiators Joffee and the flippy director (Elissa?) handled it, now let's see how a pro sets about to do business on behalf of the people.

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    1. Great idea. After all, that is where the biggest chunk of the GF goes.

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    2. start with eliminating all the SMPD overtime - all of it.

      hire a few more part time to cover - none of the overtime is for police emergencies, it's for crowd control during Halloween, blocking a street for the Trail Race etc - it's a total waste and poor business - x it out.

      dump the pension plan - let Calpers sue and have the open up their books and explain how their system benefits the public taxpayers?

      just my four cents worth

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  5. I'm not sure a common housewife can handle negotiations with these thugs.

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    1. I am not sure you know who Denise Delmar is or what she does for a living.

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    2. HaHa, I'm sure you don't know who Denise is or what she does for a living.

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    3. 9:57, gotta give it to you, when you're a sexist, you spell it SEXIST.

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    4. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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    5. A comment too dumb to live.

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  6. In my opinion "all city council member" have shown to be weak boned, have failed to do what is right for the residents of this town who have continued to fund these bogus tax increases!

    just like Josh Moran, or mayor stated, "everyone who speaks at the city council microphone is an "asshole in the eyes of all city council members".

    If that's really the way they look at us, why do we continue to feed them money?

    We need change, we need to take away the UUt tax income. Then they will be forced to manage the money they have left!!!

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    1. Time for an intervention.

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    2. that's funny coming from Josh cause he should know, he spoke up plenty at Council meetings against Measure V and he's the same asshole who as a "local" ranted on about boycotting Sierra Madre businesses who advertised in a paper he didn't like

      he's right but mostly because nobody took him serious on the Council - didn't he propose an emergency ordinance banning chickens from Kersting Court?

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    3. does Josh include his Mother in that analysis?

      lol

      somebody at the 4th of July beer garden just probably quoted him out of context

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  7. The tax test is the hardest thing a elected official will ever face. Most can't say no.

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    1. Capoccia didn't say No last time. he voted a big, Fat, YES!!

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    2. Nancy Walsh, John Harabedian, John Capoccia and Josh Moran definitely failed the tax text in 2014.

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  8. It is Time to Fire the City Manager!
    It is time to open all city positions for hire!
    It is time for across the board pay cuts and a hiring freeze!

    The City Council Must direct the City Manager to come up with that forth option which is not beneficial to her, city employees, or the police union.

    Where every member from the City Administration is effected little bit, enabling the city to keep it's "full service city " status.

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  9. Obviously none of you have worked in a managerial position or run any business for that matter. Fire Elaine if you must, but no way can you fire all city employees, nor can you change their conditions of employment unless they agree (lower wages, less benefits) if they are vested. Rachelle and Denise worked very hard in their reorganization to get all new employees with health care and retirement benefits in line with other cities, however, it is very unrealistic to think the city should fire all, or even the entire management staff. The city government would be in chaos - who would do the hiring, who would you call in case of a fire, and it would cost millions in fines, lawsuits and settlements. Use you heads, or maybe you should get up before city council and propose the same so everyone can hear your bright ideas.

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    1. I'm not feeling the love, 2:26.

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    2. I have many many times
      Yes Fire Elaine!!!
      I would Hire John Hutt then let him do the job he was hire to unlike Elaine!
      Our City Manager is very self serving!
      As heard by more then one: She is lining her pockets along with the City Attorney. I believe it!
      Who doesn't.

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  10. Let's have a bake sale that's what they would do in Mt. Pilot the big city.

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    1. Only if I can buy a latte' as well. It is the official currency of Sierra Madre, you know.

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  11. It's almost 5 PM brace yourselves. How did Mayberry survive without a horn,or did they have one? I don't recall

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  12. Goss has such hubris! he had to thank Elaine, et al for Saturday's amazing town hall. I guess she won't be leaving anytime soon. Inman hasn't fined anyone. Will in July. Penalty will appear on next months bill. No water is going down the sewer any longer. Check out the warrants. PD got Kevlar vests for over 3,000.00.

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  13. Of course no one has any questions on warrants. no questions on consent calendar.

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  14. Engineer for water, etc. speaking. Never seen him before. Have no idea what he talked about. 15-24 and another were passed. cup fpr verizon. new planning director has a slide program for us. All this for a cellular pole that's already approved. No wonder the city is broke.

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  15. 4 ft. tall meter goes with pole. No public comment. THEY'RE ALL HER FOR THE SIREN! CUP approved. Here we go with the siren: Elaine-Jan. 15 testing began. Council action 2008. took us awhile to get it fixed. council directed siren testing. Since that tim calls regarding horn. Linked to emer radion 1630. Horn will blast 3 times. No number on how many complaints. Elaine gives options-FORM A COMMITTEE-kidding. Goss has comments but he will wait until people speak. DelMar wants to know how info gets out about 1630. Capoccia cited an article in the Lodi news from 1999. Sounded one a week. Originally to gather volunteer firemen. Now to alert the citizens of an emergency in town. Capoccia wants to know what emergency the horn would help. Elaine-a message on radio giving info needed in emergency. The horn sounds 3 times to alert. DelMar: what is the decibel of horn. City has a decibel equipment, but Elaine nor police chief have used it. Capoccia: decibel-what is calibration? No louder than 80. Police chief is half of himself. Comments on Fire horn: call for volunteers. Originally bell in old North Church-look for lost hikers. The funeral director rang the bell. It was effective. Followed later-during war-air raid siren. System divided in areas, each with it's own number os horn blasts. This man responded to over 5000 fires. Spoken by Mr. Mauer. Owner of Launch Salon- resides in a house-horn used to sound at noon. Says she could feel the vibration. Thought it would give someone a heart attach. Observed a woman dropping off her mother, horn sounded, old woman was frightened. If there was a law suit someday she would not side with city.Is suggesting an environmental engineer suggested by a client who works for John Tracy Clinic. could come out to test. Has a video, 3 weeks ago, walking by, the boy falls, the parents are afraid.

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  16. BBarbara Cline loves horn. Wants it moved back to Kersting Court and a plaque for history. The horn was on a very tall pole. When it was moved, caused the problem.

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  17. Paul Hufsteder (sp) horn is a nuisance. Mr. Mauer didn't like his comment. Unknown man-Fr. Garr wore a t-shirt that said, save the horn, blow me daily. Caroline Brown-she was instrumental in the horn. Had a meeting in Monteceito. Group of students were trapped in the t-fire. The committtee suggested a horn and an AM radio. Various places in the country have various ways to alert. Spoke of overloaded cell phones .Horn has to be loud. If it were a tornado in Missouri it would be 3 blasts for 3 minutes. Bill Kover (sp) Is there not a way to make it have 2 tones? Gary Hood-great to see the turn out. Maybe once a day is too much. We are reminding people we have an emergency system. Lucky to have horn. A worker is not supposed to be around more than 80 decibels. Fire dept horns are 110.

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  18. 2 sounds can't be done. can move the equipment says Elaine. How often are we going to test it-Capoccia.. Mr. Mauer-it is electrical a couple of weeks ago didn't work because it was overloaded with air. If not blown how will we know it works. Reliabaility is necessary.He is well aware of fault lines in city.

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  19. Arizmendi-need horn, maybe once a week. Need higher level of awareness, do a better job of communicating about emergency radio. DelMar-raised in midwest used to sirens Both for toronado and chemical plants. Wonders if it was higher up would it be better. wants to know decibels. once a week. Goss-persuaded that it is necessary. Concerned that expert says testing less frequently will cause it not to work. Once a week is fine. Higher level. Have to know that it will work with less testing. Capoccia-suggests once week, revisit in one year, discuss the problems, log the complaints then move it. Doesn't want to bother staff finding a location. Arizmendi asked Elaine to advise them of malfunction.

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  20. Once a week got the vote. Elaine gave a power point about the "Town Meeting" results. Can't say they are correct. According to her most people okayed the UUT at 12%. Talking about commissions to evaluate outsource of PD. Public comment: Didn't get his name. Talking about values about what other people think. If citizens are not willing to pay for it they get what they get. Have to get theUUT . MR. Horst. Steivenson-loved town hall. agrees with Mr. Horst. He's from Wisconsin. Add money to car registration. Mr. Dapper loved Town Hall. People were there for UUT or were sorry they'd ever been against it. It's not about expenses it's about revenues. Can't lay off staff who are our friends and neighbors. Stop burning down the town. Ms. Capaccio-understand obligation. Wants surplus used. Put on ballot 10% uut with no sunset. Hasn't got money but willing to be taxed to keep services. Loves the library.

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  21. Barry Ziff-applauds the council Many people think they made a mistake voting down the uut. I believe Nancy Walsh is present. Will she speak? Paul Hopsepian-get what you pay for. Prop. 13 was passed. Help to elect Joe Mosca. Since his mother died he lives in an aprtment. Methinks this may be a stacked audience. Points out that Arizmendi and Delmar didn't like uut tax. They share a responsibility in what we're going through right now. I think his buddy Mosca is responsible for that. Thanks Jaffe, Buchanan and Mosca for all the good. Glenn Putnam-library trustee reading from something from Rob Stockley. Reads a letter from him. Hooray for the council. (Iam paraphrasing). Use surplus to offset, use general funds, level 1 reductions would cripple the city. 2 recommendations-subcommittees, outreach, uut. Use resources available to you. Be methodical in your decisions. He quotes Teddy Roosevelt. Investigate a parcel tax. Check out Altadena.. Check out Arcadia parameds. Barbara Cline- budget crises is not new. Will not call out past council members, prop 13 is good, she can't afford 30.00 a month. What has changed? CALPERS was brought in. If UUT comes back must have a sunset clause. Keep it a decent amount.

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  22. Cop Union chumps.

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  23. Mr. Alcorn- budget has not been adequate to begin with. No program for kids.Questions UUT. Parcel tax should be considered. UUT not steady. Use reserves. Not enough time or discussion. Once you give it away will not recoup.

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  24. De was against the UUT before he was for it.

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  25. Blond Lady - it's not about just the people who show up to city council meeting.

    No, it's about the thousands of people who voted against a tax hike. Remember them? Do they count?

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  26. Steve Tanner (?) Don't make this decision right away. We lost Adam-not good. Deby Danberger (?) It's a revenue issue. If you need more money-you look at your savings-don't sell the house. Cut a little here a little there is kicking the can down the road. What is surplus amount? Was it planned? What are specific amount in reserved, unassigned and surplus. We need a non-sunseted UUT tax. She rags on Delmar and Arizmendi that they have changed their minds and need a UUT.

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  27. Let's make believe that the public didn't reject a UUT increase. That never happened. Now let's pretend Sierra Madre cops upwards of $180,000 is sound fiscal policy and contributes to public safety. Then let's all laugh loud and long at these ridiculous idiots John Buchanan trotted out.

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  28. surplus is 350,000.00. set aside reserves-50% 4 mil sitting in bank. Uncommitted reserves-553,000.00 a little over a million in committed reserves. projects haven't been done but the money is there. Council can uncommit funds. So says Elaine. Delmar-Arcadia does not want to help with parameds. CAPERS-if we were to pull out-it would cost us millions.Goss-wants a good argument for subcommittee. When he ran he studied the budgets. Committees sound good but he has ideas. From last meeting-heard no support to outsource PD, library. Everyone tells him we need all these services, he was against outsourcing pool. Doesn't know why we are delaying. Capoccia says some need for committee. Delmar-commissions are a way to get info to the publc. Her goal is stabilized budget. Everything has been explored. People have told her raise revenue. Is UUT the way? Not sure. Still decisions to be made. Goss thinks Delmar is sincere. But is outsourcing the PD even needed. The people don't want it. He's talking about 92 people. Arizmendi-prudent to move with committees. Won't cause delays. Capoccia-no one has decided to put anything on the ballot. What if it fails? Needs more info on proposals. Committees will shed light on the problem. Intrigued with exploring parcel tax for library. Get citizens involved. He's ready to make a decision right now but it's not time. Goss-we have 2 weeks. Capoccia- the proposal for outsourcing library gives better service. Needs to be investigated. Goss-presupposes we do a budget for one year.

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  29. Goss is an idiot.

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  30. Arizmendi and Delmar on the defense a little. Delmar says people said they wanted a UUT. How many people is she talking about? All of them act like it was in the thousands. I am tired and I am leaving now. Goss is so arrogant.

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    1. Goss is a stooge.

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    2. This is a pathetic display of gutlessness.

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  31. This is all a dog and pony show to raise taxes and scare people. A good look at the police budget will show where the money is going and where they can cut back.

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