Monday, October 12, 2015

CalPERS Tax Showdown: 12% UUT Versus the 0% UUT

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Is Sierra Madre heading for a big utility tax showdown next April? On the one hand you have certain City Councilmembers who are coming up with just about anything they can to justify putting yet another UUT measure on the ballot. This would be the third time in three consecutive elections for this, with the 2012 and 2014 versions having both gone down to ignominious defeats.

Then, on the other hand, you have those who are working to do away with utility taxes altogether.

Those attempting to raise utility taxes (or, as we prefer to call them, CalPERS taxes), face an unfortunate perception problem. At 12% this UUT would be the largest municipal utility tax of its kind in California history. Something that would make Sierra Madreans look a bit like chumps. Especially when most of the resulting revenue would be used for things like CalPERS payments, which would not benefit the taxed in any possible way.

Those other considerations, like badly needed infrastructure repairs, would have to be funded by as yet unlevied property tax increases. Exciting news apparently being saved for somewhere around 2018.

Obviously City Hall is worried about having to once again put a utility tax increase on the ballot. As they should be. Having lost the previous two elections is no small thing, and while they do not like to talk about their ignominious defeats in public very much it is determining the actions they are taking now. Dog & pony show hand picked committees, carefully staged and stacked public outreach events, various astro-turfing publicity stunts designed to manufacture a public consensus for a tax hike where none exists, all of the usual stops have been pulled out.

And, as in the past, to little real effect. Nobody wants it. If they did the residents would have voted to increase their utility taxes in 2012 and 2014.

The latest of these efforts to manufacture a sense of public urgency for increasing utility taxes is a proposed poll. Apparently the already available data from two consecutive elections not enough, and City Hall now wants to spend as much as $30,000 to find out what you really think. No, really think. Or at least come up with a different result justifying their latest attempt to confiscate more of your dough.

Here is how that boondoggle is detailed in the related agenda report for tomorrow evening's City Council meeting (link).


Apparently the mantra at City Hall remains the same. "When in doubt, spend money."

On the other side of the fence you have Earl Richey and David McMonigle, two gentlemen who have been trying for the last year or so to put their "Stop the Utility Users' Tax" initiative on the ballot. Something that would do away with utility taxes here altogether. And while they have received more than the necessary amount of signatures, various concerned government entities have declared enough of them invalid to, at least so far, prevent this from being voted on next April.

Obviously City Hall is not amused, and is going all out to prevent you from being able to vote utility taxes in Sierra Madre out of existence for good. Should you choose to do so.

Of course, maybe the city would prefer that you just pay for $30,000 polls. The results of which would be much easier for them to interpret to their benefit.

Here are the filing papers as submitted last week by David McMonigle and Earl Richey.


So there you go. On April 12, 2016 you may very well have an interesting choice to make. You could vote yourself the highest utility taxes in the state at 12%, or the very lowest at 0%.

Kind of exciting.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

60 comments:

  1. Absolutely brilliant, Mod! these are not UUT taxes, they are CAlPers taxes and should be referred to as such from here on out.

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    1. As long as CalPers is the pension plan or any similar plan is in place I will always vote NO on the UUT, any tax increase whether it be for the city, school district or state.

      It's pretty simple, CalPers is a ponzi scheme.

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  2. Allowing the City to spend $30,000.00 of our tax money so that they can take a "survey" to raise our taxes is just like giving them the rope they are going to use to hang us. I would think that that $30k could be better spent helping the library stay open or pay the overtime for some police officer or whatever. Instead, they want to give it to some out of town consultant firm to conduct a poll that will give them a predetermined result. Not with my tax dollars! I'm going to contact Earl Richey and David McMonigle to sign their petition and I encourage all Tattler readers in Sierra Madre to do the same.

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    1. Isn't it too late to sign Earl Richey' s petition?

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    2. The police bill enough 'overtime' as it is...

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    3. They are starting again, 5:50. Right?

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    4. I think Earl's starting to gather signatures again. Note the pictures above show an October 5, 2015 filing date.

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    5. Spend the $30K on a better water filtration system so I can drink my damn water again.

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    6. Me, too, 11:48, me too.

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    7. My husband thinks we should deduct all the money we are spending on bottled water from our water bill. Plus all the extra cleaning supplies so that the toilet and sink look acceptable at times!

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    8. we don't need to pay any more overtime to police officers. I can't imagine why we have some PD officers raking in OT and others working part time

      oh yeah, if you rake in OT your Calpers pension is based on the highest numbers

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  3. The UUT doesn't stop at 12%. It can go as high as they want. I'm all for helping the city maintain functions, but I don't want to pay for benefits and salaries. I'd like to see the pipes fixed. I'd like to see better water.The cry is that no one wants to work here because of the low pay. We aren't a big city. We should not be expected to pay the same as Pasadena or any other large city. There must be people out there willing to work. I think the city manager does her best to see they don't get hired. We have 30,000.00 to throw away? Surveys are only as good as the questions asked and the people chosen to answer them. They can be easily skewed. This weeks local rag said the meeting for the sheriff vs local police was filled to capacity. It wasn't. The rag said that person after person lined up to speak. There were speakers. Several of them got up and spoke 3 or 4 times. The one thing they got right was that there was only one, very brave considering the audience, man who was a dissenter. We need to get to the bottom of why we are stuck with Calpers forever. We need facts just not told to go and figure out Calpers website. All I see is a higher UUT in the future and bursting pipes all over the city.

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    1. Great post 5:19. Thanks

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    2. "I'm all for helping the city maintain functions, but I don't want to pay for benefits and salaries." So, how do you propose the city maintains functions without paying benefits and salaries? The tooth fairy?

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    3. You hire people who want to work here at a price a small town can afford. Here is a novel idea. How about we hire people who actually live in town and have a real stake in the city succeeding?

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    4. Many of our city employees live in town, some birth-right citizens - and if they had to move to Monrovia or Pasadena it's because the city doesn't pay them enough to live in town. I've never seen such a bunch of ill-informed tattler bloggers. If you think the city can run on every employee getting minimum wage and part-time, you are crazy. Could these blogs be from two or three people like the mystery people that Gene Goss speaks of?

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  4. It would appear that the city council is doing everything it can to help Mr. Richey achieve his goal. How they could be handling this any worse is beyond me. But I am sure I will be surprised.

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    1. Agreed!
      I thought the 0% was way too extreme, but I'm starting to think it's the only way to make the city staff and council listen.

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    2. I agree. We voted twice for 6% and they ignored us. How much of their arrogance are we expected to take?

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  5. A phone survey is practically worthless. lots of folks use their cell phone as their primary ( and only) phone number so that the sample of folks surveyed will not represent a true demographic of the town.

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    1. Yes, and those numbers will be hand selected!

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    2. And since most of the landlines belong to UUT Exempt Seniors, I'm thinking the poll will skew to "Yes" since most of them are exempt.

      But hell, why not? The City wants to justify a tax increase.

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    3. For 30 thousand, the firm/s will do a thorough job, and 300 is probably the statistically necessary number for our town size. But I am furious they are even thinking of using the money to do that. What foolishness.

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    4. A very strange assumption that most seniors are exempt from the UUT. I guess you haven't lived in Sierra Madre very long. Most seniors in Sierra Madre are highly educated professionals who planned for their retirement and pay their taxes along with everyone else.

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    5. I'm a senior, have a landline because cell calls DROP in the area in which I live. I pay the UUT and don't personally know one senior that doesn't pay. I'm sure there are some that don't pay, but I think most seniors pay for the UUT.

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    6. If you mean that most seniors in Sierra Madre are on public pensions, you're right. The rest of them vote yes to tax increases because, and, I quote, "I don't have to pay it."

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    7. Most seniors in Sierra Madre are NOT on public pensions - I don't know where you get your data. Probably just pulled it out of you know where. Just because Nancy gets a pension doesn't mean that all retirees worked for the county. More seniors than you know voted no on the last UUT measure, but I'll bet they are smart enough to look at the figures and see that there has to be a UUT or some sort of revenue stream.

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    8. according to the three dudes on the Council, millions of Sierra Madre residents are in favor of the UUT

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    9. A lot of them have been in touch with Gene Goss.

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  6. Go David and Earl. When the time presents itself, my family will walk the streets and obtain all the signatures needed.

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  7. With this newest effort to stop wasteful spending by local government officials this just shows how creative tax payers have to be in order to take back control of the taxes purse strings and how it's spent for their benefit and not politicians or their lackeys.

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  8. If the city wants to put a tax hike on the ballot it would have to say it is for water infrastructure for me to vote for it. I don't want to be taxed extra for CalPERS. If that is what the city is doing on the side then it is fraud.

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  9. For $30,000 you get to tell the poll people what results you want.

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

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  10. The best poll is the ballot box.

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    1. We voted to cut utility taxes twice at the ballot box. The SOBs ignored it.

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    2. Vote, and tell your neighbors to vote, too.

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  11. The signature vetting is essential.
    I have circulated more than one petition, and had to learn the hard way that sometimes people will sign who don't live in the area, or who are not registered voters. They like your cause, and on a whim decide to sign. Takes a while to learn how to avoid that, and always go over the target number. Figure on 10-15% of the signatures you get to be bogus.

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    1. If you are collecting signatures in a public place, the first question you ask is do you live in Sierra Madre? Second question is are you registered to vote? Best , but most time consuming is going door to door with a copy of voter registration .

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  12. The city is doing everything it can to stop Richey's initiative form getting on the April 2016 ballot. The first petition was disapproved for being one valid signature short, very suspicious. Next, the resubmitte request to circulate a new petition was rejected for some unknown reason. Now the city is stalling on approving another request to circulate a petition.

    I would anything that if Richey's initiative was to raise the UUT tax instead of do away with it, the city would approve it in a nano second.

    I can not wait to sign Earl's petition if the city ever allows him to circulate it.

    Something is rotten in Denmark, I mean Sierra Madre.


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  13. Elections in Sierra Madre don't count. Vote for a preservationist and you end up with Joe Mosca. Vote for a tax fighter and you get John Capoccia. Vote twice to stop utility tax hikes and you get a third tax hike ballot initiative. And God help residents that want to put something on the ballot that Her Highness the City Manager doesn't like. Democracy is dead in this town. It will take a lot to get it back.

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  14. I ask, who is responsible for hiring in the city? Who is it that says they can't find qualified people to hire? Who turned down John Hutt do do lack of experience? There's only one person who has that privilege. This person controls the vital things that happen in this city. Guess who needs to go? Will it happen? Not with three of the CC members!

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    1. We need to clean house and start over.

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  15. For a City whose largest source of sales tax is a liquor store, the choice will be to have a functioning city government or go bankrupt. These types of "bring on the Armageddon" efforts by eliminating local taxes that support local government discredit everyone involved.

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    1. True, but it is also a totally understandable reaction to a city government that refuses to abide by the decision of the voters. Twice.

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    2. It is the huge amounts of money that we pay into things like CalPERS that is breaking this city. Sierra Madre is a small town of 11,000 people. It should not be run like Pasadena. Lying about this only discredits you.

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    3. 10:27, telling a lie often enough doesn't make it the truth. The Pension costs will continue to kill Sierra Madre as it is killing many small cities.

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    4. A previous city council decided the employees retirement account should go to CALPERS, This cannot be undone without a unattainable penalty. So, stop whining and start figuring out how you can run the city with all the services you want - fire, police, public works (water) and building without the UUT.

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    5. Fire them all and contract out. I'll be damned if I am going to pay the highest utility taxes in California so Officer Potato Salad can retire at age 50 on a six figures of compensation. That is insane.

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    6. 12:02, when the City Council decides to HONESTLY do a cost comparison & analysis between:
      1. SMPD and LASD or another law agency
      2. SMFD Paramedics or having LA County run the paramedic program (that we pay taxes for already)
      and take the results to the voters and let them decide - then the conversation can honestly continue.

      Right now, the voters aren't allowed to know if we're paying too much. We're just being told to pay the HIGHEST UUT (12%) in the state.

      The truth shall set you free, 12:02.

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    7. This isn't insane, 12:19. This is California's business as usual.

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    8. It is insane.

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    9. 12:02P-Is it whining because you had no say in what the previous CC did without asking?Are you a councilman or city employee? If the city goes bankrupt will that end CalPERS? Are there any changes that can be made to the CalPERS agreement? These are good questions that never get answered. What kind of contract does one sign that you can never end? It's a ponzi scheme. And you have the nerve to tell anybody to stop whining? We are a small town. We can't afford to pay this kind of payroll. The UUT is not the answer to budget within our means, It will always be temporary and need to be increased next year and the year after. Maybe you have all the money in the world and you don't mind paying taxes to everyone who has their hand out. I thought we fought a war over this. The CC does not represent its citizens. It represents their agenda. Why don't you get off your duff and study CalPERS for us and give us all the answers of what we will do next year!

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    10. I am a 48 year resident retired with limited funds who pays all my taxes. I enjoy living in Sierra Madre and will willingly pay for what I get. I'm not an employee or councilperson, but work hard to get council members elected who I think will represent me. For your information, I voted for Denise, Rachelle and John Capoccia and will continue to support them. Thank you for the suggestion, I will come back to you with some answers re: CalPers.

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    11. 5:06P. Are you of an age that your are exempt from UUT? Good luck with CalPERS. See if you can figure out why the city can't withdraw without paying millions of dollars. The city portion goes up every year. We pay health benefits for spouses until death. I worked 50 years and was happy to have decent health insurance, a good job and aliveable wage. I did not get to retire at 55 with full benefits. I don't want to see problems in Sierra Madre any more than you. But I really feel we need some honesty and plain speaking about the costs the city is maintaining. Like 30,000.00 for a survey. That took employee time, for what? The whim of the CC? The city, as we know it, will change. Next year it will be a parcel tax to save the library and on it goes.

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    12. 12:19: A fine upstanding adult citizen of Sierra Madre that has to result to name calling....what's with that? You're a class act!

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    13. If the cap fits ...

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  16. La Canada is laughing at us!

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  17. Lots of people are laughing at you myself included.

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    1. We're bringing joy to the joyless.

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