Tuesday, January 12, 2016

A Few Charts That Make It Clear Where Much Of Sierra Madre's Tax Money Has Really Been Going

One of the more malodorous fallacies contained within the city's ballot argument favoring the passage of Measure UUT is what I call the Hostage List. It is made up of the more beloved portions of this town's governmental agency, those that the City Council would like you to believe will be ruthlessly thrown out into the streets and under the wheels of the next empty Metro bus should you decide against voting to raise your utility taxes. These include the Library, Community Services, Recreation (is that an actual department?) and, of course, those perpetually heroic part-time Paramedics. Without whom you will die a lonely death some dark, stormy and unfortunate night. Or so certain heavily invested parties have suggested.

It is a veritable laundry list of fine community institutions, each with a city issued knife held to its exposed throat in lieu of more of your tax money.

Here is how the City's fallacious ballot argument nonsense goes:


Robert Fellner of Transparent California fame has generously prepared a series of charts for us that detail where your money is really being spent, and where it isn't. And despite what you might have heard, most of the increased spending has basically gone to just one place, that being the Sierra Madre Police Department.

When you consider that the UUT rate has been pretty much been stuck at 10% for years (with the exception of the last 6 months when it inched down slightly to 8%), you'd figure that expenditures would have also stayed level. But, of course, they didn't. If they had the city would not be facing the deep financial trouble it is dealing with now.

The reason the City of Sierra Madre is in the deep money hole it is today has little to do with a 2% utility tax cut spread out over the last six short months. Instead it is that steep and steady rise of public safety expenditures, in particular those for the Sierra Madre Police Department. As you will see from this first chart, while all other expenses have basically stayed level, public safety costs have increased yearly.


This next chart breaks it all down for us by detailing the various categories. Again we can see that it is public safety that has grabbed increasingly larger chunks of the city's budget while everything else has been mostly stuck in place.


So who are the main culprits in all of this? Certainly the largest by far would have to be CalPERS. And for whatever the reason, Sierra Madre is now paying a lot more for its very expensive Police Department's retirement plan than anything covered by a similar program from the County of Los Angeles. An important consideration because LA County retirement costs have actually gone down recently, while Sierra Madre's CalPERS payments continue to increase yearly.


When you tune into tonight's City Council meeting and you hear some of the funny figures the city is finessing, please refer to these charts. Measure UUT, which is a 66% increase in your utility taxes, would go almost entirely to pay for radically increased public safety costs. Most of which are being shoveled wholesale to the Police Department.

That is where the money is actually going. Trust me, it has little to do with the Library or anything else.

Set the hostages free.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

81 comments:

  1. A good question to ask Johnny Harabedian: How much is the increased cost of a "Public Safety Director" instead of a "Police Chief" each year? $10,000, $20,000, $30,000 or is it even more?

    Has the burglary rate in Sierra Madre increased or decreased during that time?

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    Replies
    1. I see nothing wrong with outsourcing the Police and Library services

      Plus I'd rather have a professional Fire Department rather than a volunteer Fire Department.

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    2. Nah, no need to bring in Platinum Pensions for firefighters.

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    3. no I mean contracting out the FD also - I know I'd rather call Arcadia than our FD

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  2. Stop the uut tax increaseJanuary 12, 2016 at 5:42 AM

    John, thank you for this article establishing that (I) every nickel of the $1m uut tax increase will be handed to the police union, and (ii) the city's police services spend is making it impossible to fund improvements to our parks, library and senior services.

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    1. Amen. Why should the City receive 66% more in tax revenue? Did you receive a 66% raise last year?

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  3. What we saw with the previous two attempts to raise utility taxes in Sierra Madre was that the city started out by saying things that are not quite true, and then backpedaled all the way to election day. It looks like that pattern is holding.

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    1. yep. When the City Manager was sending out known misinformation I will never trust her again. The Council majority are all supported by the same crew that was involved in this mess to begin with

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  4. It seems obvious to me that the way to fix Sierra Madre's finances is not to raise the UUT, but to hire the Sheriffs.

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    1. and outsource the library.

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  5. Earl Richie needs to take the UUT vote to a special election if the City Council won't put the removal of the UUT on the ballot. It will cost the city alot of money but its worth it. Hopefully the City Council will not be afraid of that option and give the citizens a chance to vote for it or not as they wish.

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  6. Didn't Mayor Capoccia call Tattler readers crazy? If so, what is he? And will he ever have the courage to tell the populace why he thinks Tattler readers are?

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    1. "The Great Tax Fighter" has been feeling a little dyspeptic lately.

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    2. Capoccia was against the UUT tax increase (once) before he was for it (twice, at least).

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    3. I see. After 3.7 million hits on this site, that means hundreds of thousands of people are just insane. Let's flip that one around and just say that Capoccia is insane, makes a lot more sense.

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    4. I think he picked that line up from Nancy Walsh.

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  7. Please define Dyspeptic.

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    1. dys·pep·tic
      adjective
      1.
      of or having indigestion or consequent irritability or depression.
      synonyms: bad-tempered, short-tempered, irritable, snappish, testy, tetchy, touchy, crabby, crotchety, grouchy, cantankerous, peevish, cross, disagreeable, waspish, prickly; More

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    2. 8:04, please copy and paste this link I made just for you:
      http://lmgtfy.com/?q=define+dyspeptic

      Delete
  8. The community as a whole must take on this fight. We must Start by Repealing All UUT Taxes Immediately. City hall must be forced to balance its check book and reduce spending and provide the taxpayer with infrastructure. We are also tired of drinking yellow leaded expensive water!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. So,fix the infrastructure, clean up the water, fire all employees, balance the budget and repeal the taxes. Where is the magic wand to do all of this? The sheriff's department would still need to be paid,as well as the newly hired employees who will manage all of the above. Good luck.

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    2. 12:01, in your special world, the only solution is to tax the crap out of us and pay for those big ass pensions. really? Get a grip. Contract out to the LASD for police, contract out the library, contract out the paramedics (none of whom live in town)and we'll have enough extra cash flow to pay for capital improvements.

      I love the big spenders (of others' money) who reason that we need to pay for ALL the capital expense for 50 years of deferred repairs NOW. What a bunch of , ahem, baloney.

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    3. we hire more officers and yet we have officers racking up overtime?

      it is about public service or pension hours?

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  9. Hat makes anyone believe that a permanent 10% UUT tax rate will solve the city's revenue problem? It is already apparent, if nothing changes with the structure of the city, that 10% is not enough. When the Council realizes, a few years down the road, that 10% is not enough, they will come back and ask for a permanent 12% UUT tax. This is in essence what they are doing now with the original " sunset" UUT. The only way to combat this is to lower expenses, like hiring the Sheriff's dept. and not giving the City Council any more money to spend. Vote NO on UUT.

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    Replies
    1. The council has acknowledged all along that 10% UUT is not enough to last more than a year or so. The idea is to look for an alternative such as property assessments along the line of San Marino and South Pasadena for library and police. Cuts will not do it, nor will an increased UUT.

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    2. If you listen to Harabedian, he wants a 10% permanent UUT and a new bond measure for the water pipes. Glad to know he has no difficulty spending other people's money

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    3. Johnny uses our money to pay the political debts he owes to the Police Association.

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  10. It is the taxpayer who continues to fund this machine. The machine is broken and will.need to file BK. The taxpayers have spoken!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. The tax payers will have to speak again at this April's election.

      No on the UUTMeasure will say it all.

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  11. The city claims they cut spending by $2 million dollars last year. So why do they need a tax hike?

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    1. Don't be fooled by the City's rhetoric. The "$2 million" figure appears to be what the decrease in spending has been for several years. Don't kid yourself, this also includes the cuts that occurred after Gov. Brown cut off the redevelopment district $$$.

      If the City Council honestly gave the figures on an annual basis, the cuts would be minimal. Prooperty taxes, sales taxes and UUT tax revenues have all increased. If they cut $2,000,000 A YEAR they'd have a surplus. It's a miracle their pants aren't on fire.

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    2. Gotta pay for those Platinum Pensions.

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    3. They just never learn.

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    4. UUT taxes have NOT increased the past two years, instead them have gone down.

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    5. They dropped to 8% in July. 10% for a bunch of years before that. I forget how many.

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    6. UUT taxes are assessed on utility bills, which continue to go up, ergo....UUT income will continue to trend up.

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    7. Excellent point, 2:42. Every time a utility increases its rate, the UUT assessed increases too. It's a great way to get more tax revenue without having to deal with those pesky voters.

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  12. Despite all this ,the City has a request for yet another new hire in the Police Dept and the Library.Check the Agenda for tonight's meeting.

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    1. They are bringing Toni Buckner back out of retirement for now. How could they hire a librarian now when the future of the library is unsettled.

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    2. how old is Toni? 65 or 70?

      retired?

      points out the absurdity of the Calpers system versus what the rest of us deal with

      retire at an early age and get paid forever for what exactly?



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    3. Wow, pull back someone who is already receiving a CalPERS pension and then pay them, too? Such a deal.

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  13. Did city hall tell you they just created $792,000 of income by increasing the water meter fee again. 4400 water meters times $30.00 water meter fee per billing cycle times 6 cycles ... That equals $792,000 a year. The taxpayers still have no water infrasture and are forced to drink the yellow leaded water. We the tax payer need a city council and management change. It's all about reducing city expenses, not increasing salaries, inflation of pensions and cadalic health plans which have no benifit to any city resident!!!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey, are you the same one who has posted the same message a few dozen times before? Let's keep up the same broken record and maybe all of us will agree with you.

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  14. We tax payers are just fools funding a Ponzi scheme for the privileged few (City Employees,SMPD).
    When will we do something to fix this?

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  15. Unfortunately, there are many people in the city who really could care less. They looovvvve the PD. They love paying taxes, willing to write a check for $250.00 right there at the CC meeting to help defray costs!!!! How ludicrous is that thinking? I have little faith anymore. The UUT will pass because these people are not well informed. They don't go to meetings, they don't read agendas, I have actually met many people in town that don't realize that there is a problem with the water. Kind of makes your day.

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  16. 11.20 well... I do not entirely believe that logic... the UUT Tax hike was defeated in years 2012 & 2014 and will be defeated & REPEALED in the immediate future. When the UUT Tax is REPEALED, it will be open bar at LUCKY BALDWINS!

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  17. Should be quite a show tonight.

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  18. Lengthy discussion about growing marijuana.
    Where's Josh to provide knowledgeable input when we need him?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Excessive City Council meeting watching could get you qualified for a medical marijuana card.

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  19. One more recitation from Directorless Inman, and it'll be the UUT vote time. Always interesting to watch a governmental body try to manipulate the voting rights of the public.

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    1. I think Bruce is putting himself to sleep, what with all the incomprehensibility of the material he's expected to know.

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    2. 7:54, I'm betting that everyone on the council will support the citizens' right to vote, and there will be some tsk tsking in staff's direction.

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    3. 7:58, about as wrong as a prediction can get.

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    4. Nope. They want the report so they can "inform the voters." Like the voters are a bunch of dumb bunnies who can't think for themselves.

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    5. 8:28, most voters are dumb bunnies. The argument I objected to was that the city doesn't know what would happen with 2 million less - ah c'mon.

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  20. 7:58 ----- your lips to God's ear.

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  21. The fix is in. Aguilar is lying about it taking 30 days to do her stupid report.

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  22. Our city manager just said that there wasn't enough staff or time for them to do the work, but that she doesn't recommend hiring a consultant to do it because staff knows it so well and can do it so well. Amazing that it came out of one face.

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  23. Mr. Gold on having choices to vote. Couldn't agree more.

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  24. Arizmendi says it can't be done.
    If one of the best and brightest is voting for the supremacy of the bureaucratic rules, we ain't got a chance.

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  25. That's all I can take of this meeting....
    We can't vote because it won't support the democratic process of timing.

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

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  27. Tax monkey Capoccia is getting loud and dyspeptic.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Capoccia sounds like an angry old lady.

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    2. That's exactly how I feel - an angry old lady.

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    3. Looks like somebody got under Capoccia's skin.

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  28. The city attorney just told them that they can call for a special election. Sure hope someone demands a way that the victimized staff can work their overburdened selves into coming up with something How about June?

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  29. If Capoccia thought the person who came to his door to sign Earl's petition was giving false info, did he think maybe he could share that info with the public? Or was it only for him to savor until tonight? He really is an arrogant , well I can't say it here....

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  30. And to think this Aguilar flunky ran and won as an anti-tax candidate.

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  31. How do I watch this from home?

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    Replies
    1. If you're asking about how to view the CC meeting: Go to the cities website, once there, in the upper right corner you will see a "how do I" tab. Press it, you will then see on the right hand side a line that says broadcasted meetings, or something like that, press on it and you're there.

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  32. Capoccia is just plain rude! He does not know how to run a meeting or treat his constituents. Just another retired, pensioner, who was probably one of a thousand VP's at ATT. We all know how well run they are......

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  33. Ah shoot. I was opposed to the abolishing of the UUT but now I am going to have to work for that cause. It is simply unacceptable to have that group of five people deny the city the right to vote.

    I don't believe there wasn't a way to work around the deadlines.

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  34. I missed tonight's city council meeting, a bunch of great posts! Thank you for the up date

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  35. went to city site to watch tonight's CC meeting and all I get is taking a break then goes to a September meeting. This city is a joke.

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  36. Yes it is and the joke is on us.

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  37. Celebrate Good Times! Come On!January 12, 2016 at 9:00 PM

    Just think of how awesome November will be! A presidential election. A vote to repeal the 6% uut. And a vote to recall each council member who voted to deny a a vote on repealing the uut! We should view this as entertainment, which in a farcical sense our city government has become. And best of all, each council member who has chosen to view Earl and his hundreds of co-sponsors with abject contempt, will be absolutely miserable until that election takes place. Who could possibly ask for more?!?!

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  38. By watching television, you can sure feel the frustration from the city council that they have been called on their poor management skills. By one hand, they tell you they will follow the law, but on the other hand state they can not perform their financial research prior to 30 days. Then the city council should have saved face and agreed to put the Repeal of the UUT Tax on the April ballot. It's only going to get ugullier if a surprise occurs!

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  39. Please keep this in mind when you try to wrap your head around the numbers city hall generates and proclaims as the 'truth' so help me GOD. Figures lie and liars figure!

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