Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Tonight's City Council Meeting Is Loaded With Excitement

A California Songbird
I covered the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department versus the Sierra Madre Police Department issue pretty much to death. It certainly was a fun enough ride, but there isn't much left to be said until after tonight's meeting. I do expect we'll have some additional key insights later this evening.

Gave some similar treatment to the Steve-O Salisian Affair yesterday. I suspect it will end up just like we want it to, though I will be keeping a jaundiced yellow eyeball on that as well. After all, you never really know how these things are going to turn out. It's like Bingo. Sometimes even the most unworthy of all those in attendance gets to take home the antiqued bronze lamp with the Songbirds of California lampshade on it. No matter how many cards you buy, life isn't always fair.

There is one other topic on tonight's City Council agenda that is fraught with anxiety and controversy. For some, anyway. It includes the following staff report information on the possible consequences of getting rid of utility taxes in Sierra Madre altogether.

As you might already know, the petition to get a "Stop the Utility Users' Tax" initiative on the ballot ran afoul of various Los Angeles County bureaucracies. They did not dig it very much because the county also gets to wet its beak in Sierra Madre's UUT take. It isn't only City Hall that gets to order Foothill Village sweet green cash cocktails.

The upshot being that first petition the utility tax fighters submitted to LA County got tossed out for being one valid signature short. And by the time the second one was turned in it was too late to get a Stop the UUT ballot initiative on April's ballot.

As it stands now we might see this one in June, included along with the California Primary stuff. Or November with all of that infinitely annoying Presidential Election balderdash. It might even get pushed to 2018. Nobody knows that for certain yet, though I suspect the City Attorney has an opinion.

But that isn't what this evening's utility tax tango is all about. Rather this agenda item deals with what City Staff thinks will happen should their beloved utility taxes vanish altogether. Which, in their opinion at least, is tantamount to the apocalypse. Or at least having to possibly look for a new job.

Here is that agenda report. The only thing missing from it are predictions of plague locusts.


So that is basically it. Three rather huge items are happening tonight. I'm so excited I took Wednesday off from work so I can go to this meeting and stay right up until all of these momentous decisions have been made.

Or at least discussed. Of course, it could end up being just the usual jargon and process. Though I doubt it. I think the chairs are going to fly. In the metaphorical sense, anyway. As we all know, they are bolted to the floor.

Oh, one additional question. Will there be enough police officers present to insure that peace will be kept in Council Chambers?

Maybe they should bring in the Sheriffs for that as well.

sierramadretattler.blogspot.com

76 comments:

  1. Can anyone explain my lead water bill. I used less 10% less lead water and my bill went up 10%.

    It's like SMPD has taken over the srrvice. Help.

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    1. I don't know your situation but my water bill is 80‰ fees for sewer, meter and Uut and only 20% of my bill is for water usage.the rates are fixed so the large water users get a big break

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    2. Before i use any water my bill is over 100$ in fees. There is no monatery incentive for me to cut usage

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    3. and to think we elected utility company lawyers to the Council


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  2. Enjoy your services.

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  3. So many cities in California have lived beyond their means that budgets would allow many have cut services or charged fees for once free services and we have all seen the rates raise for water, power, food and other basic items. Now that people have adjusted their budgets to live with in their means it's about time city governments do the same instead of taxing their way out of revenue deficits or another favorite is floating bonds to create monies to spend wildly as before where have conservative officials gone?

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    1. Please note that the first sentence of comment of the 3 alternatives in the Analysis :
      "Both alternatives will result in a significant reduction in Staff"
      My observations:
      1. GREAT - that is the whole point -staffing is bloated to obese proportions.
      2. There are 3 alternatives enumerated in the Report,then they say "both alternatives" - Staff can neither count nor write ?
      Since City Management and Staff have demonstrated their lack of interest in Sierra Madre and it's taxpayers, why should we care if their numbers are reduced ? For an example of what happens ,please read Tattlers account of the demise of SMPD. City Staff are next on the List.

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  4. Is the agenda loaded with excitement or excrement? I vote to remove any staffer responsible for fear mongering.

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  5. Yes, indeed this should be an interesting meeting tonight. I'm going there to see Mr. Salisian up close and personal. I don't think this City Council is going to suffer his lies either.....but you never know.

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  6. I guess we're going to see if the voters want to blow up their city government or not. It is the year of the angry voter, or so they say. But will it happen here?

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    1. Love it, 6:51. The voters have to live within their budgets at home but the City deserves a 66% increase in April, right. Please adjust your dosages.

      "Blow up". Rhetoric much?

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    2. Hey 6:51 grab a free copy of the Mountain View News and use it to pick up the excrement that will be left on the dias at City Hall tonight.

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  7. City Hall'$ position is More Taxation. My position is cut the fat$

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  8. If you really think there is lead in your water and you are using it for drinking or bathing you are quite stupid.I'm not a genius but I
    was concerned and tested my tap water zero lead.

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  9. Here is an easy source for some additional revenue. As with the Building Department and taking part in special events such as the Mt Wilson Trail Race, charge people who check out more than one book at a time a fee. Also charge all the schools a fee that covers the overhead and personnel costs for the time they are there.The same goes for the reading to dogs, teen and adult book club, and preschool story time. Cut out the newsstand magazines and special computer programs. Finally, use the Friends of the Library funds for upkeep and repair instead of fluff.

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    1. Or, outsource library operations as other entities such as Riverside County have already done. Increase hours, improve services and reduce costs.

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    2. Where are the taxpayers' Platinum Pensions?

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    3. In somebody else's pocket.

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  10. 7.03 could not have been said better

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  11. Since city hall chose to discuss what we can not afford.... Lets see how we can help cut city hall fat starting with salaries:

    1) starting with city manager $325k per year salary & benefits
    a) we will no longer need her services to manage the police dept., the fire dept., the paramedics, the water & sewer dept., the gardeners and reduction of 50% of city staff. If I did the math right, the city mgr. will need to pay city hall for the room which she occupies to place her desk!
    2)

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  12. I have found it disconcerting that so much attention is paid to the uut as egregious but no one seems to care that the water utility in this town is a racket. Just the connection fees are 3-4 times neighboring cities. And we are not talking $5-10 but $100-150. Quit yapping about uut. It's insignificant compared to the raping we are enduring on the water bill. That money is funding the city. I say have county take over that mess as well. I pay over $550 a bill period because I have two meters. Before I turn on any water, I pay $440 in standard fees. Tell me again about paying $6 or $10 on your phone bill...

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  13. Our City Clerk has served well and loyally for 30 some odd years. Does the city reward her with a gold watch? Nope! Rob Stockley has the nerve to stand up there and say her pay should be cut! Elaine is hoping for that as she wants to take over that position and be able to appoint her secretary in that position. It's all about control, folks.

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  14. 9.34 Yes that is a reasonable concern.

    Are you aware of the city taxes charged resident for trash. He is a copy of my bill:

    2/01/2016 dated

    3 yd bin weekly....... $248.84

    franchise tax $37.33
    uut tax fee $19.91
    retro fee $ .88
    franchise fee $ .13
    utility user tax fee $ .07

    If you add up the Taxes only, that $58.32 taxes / $248.84 trash cost

    THATS 23.43% IN CITY TAXES each time we get a trash bill?

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  15. 9.34 Are you aware...

    4th quarter of 2015

    1) City Hall raised every water meter fee in the amount of $30.00+/-

    Lets do the math:

    a) 4100 water meters times $30 = $123,000 x (6 billing periods) = $738,000 more annual income

    b) times 8% UUT Taxes........................................... $ 59,040 yr

    ______________________

    That's an astonishing $797,040 more money a year

    to pay Unfunded City Hall Liabilities & Pensions

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    Replies
    1. I looked at my three water bills and the meter charge only went up $8 on each one of them

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  16. based upon what is being shared, it appears that our city employees will be asking for another salary increase. They should be literally, swimming in money.

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  17. 9.34 I must have missed those city hall taxes

    we have 4 trash bins in Sierra Madre.

    at $58.32 of taxes per bin, per billing cycle, that adds up to $349.92 yr x 4 bins =

    that's $1,3996.68 in just city hall trash bin taxes each year. that's a lot of taxes,

    especially at 23.43% taxes, per billing period!

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  18. 9.34 thank you tattler for helping wake up the sleeping giants!

    It is my understanding that city hall charges franchise taxes and uut taxes on almost all of these utilities!

    1) water
    2) water meter fees, in excess of the cost of the water meter,
    3) sewer
    4) gas
    5) electricity
    6) trash services
    7) hardline telephones
    8) hardline fax machine
    9) internet services
    10) cell phones

    And why does city hall state that it is not surely enough money,

    Our family earns $52,000 a year. If we get a yearly salary increase, it goes for all these city taxes. We are getting priced out of the community which we choose to live in.

    O, city hall stated that we can apply for reduced city utility service costs, but as you know, the reduction in our costs for services will be passed on to our neighbors, I guess that is the new American way.

    Just think, our family will be on a tiered utility service cost, and our neighbor's will be paying the tiers which we no longer have to pay!

    MORE Taxation is not the answer, it just a bigger burden on our neighbors.....

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  19. you people are whiners.

    the tax increase is the cost of a couple of lattes a month.

    in exchange we get to pay for (i) an incompetent and now depleted day time SMPD that will not be re staffed until March 2017, (ii) a second competent night time police department to pick up the slack for the incompetent SMPD, and (iii) a $350k a year city manager to act as ringmaster over the whole circus.

    so I recommend that you quit complaining and vote yes on the uut so that we can remain a full service city.

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  20. With our type of government, we have to have a city manager (or a ceo if you want to call it that ) So if we don't want to pay a city manager why don't we just close city hall, go to the County for all our governmental needs, and sell the water department to a private entity. Look at all the money you think you could save. Of course you would not have as much say about taxes, rates, or service. You would have to pay the county for those services you know. But, who cares, those who want Sierra Madre to be the special city we moved here for are old stick-in-the-muds anyway.

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    1. If we end up going to LA Sheriff for policy and County for paramedics and outsource the library, we probably need an administrator instead of a City Manager, or maybe we can share a City Manager. Like San Marino, San Gabriel and South Pasadena share a Fire Chief.

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    2. ...and what say do we have now about fees, takes, and services?

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    3. 12:48PM Can't we have our city and still expect our city government to work for us not the employees?

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    4. Wouldn't that be nice?

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  21. On the "Illegal House On Highland" question both Mayor Capoccia and Councilwoman Delmar have to recuse themselves. This will be decided by Mayor Pro Tem Goss and Councilmembers Arizmendi and Harabedian.

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    1. Nothing gets past you.

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    2. Sierra Madre used to have an administrator instead of a city manager. That was changed thanks to a not so bright city council. If we outsource everything you are talking about and it has to be including our fire department, then we don't have a city council, we have a town council administered by the LA County Board of Supervisors. Then we'd be just like Altadena which seems to run pretty well. You decide. Just be prepared for unintended consequences, like your property taxes going sky high. But then those who rent are safe from those pesky UUT taxes and property taxes. There is no free lunch, my friends.

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    3. Dear 3:51, stop your whining. No one said SM should disincorporate. Unintended consequences, my ass.

      LaCanada seems to be doing just fine. Prop 13 keeps the property taxes reasonable. Double duh!

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  22. Mod or someone else live blogging the meeting tonight?

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  23. 3.51 spoken just like a true city hall employee. Please be reminded that it was city hall who continues to tax All who live in Sierra Madre. Please remember it is city hall who continue to speak of creating an additional property parcel tax. We will not allow this to continue.

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  24. Deb Sheriden; speaking about reducing salary for City Clerk. Does not like Rob Stockley's remark. No remarks by CC.

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    1. oh jeez, Rob just loves to stick his nose into every conversation

      dude, just cause you got elected doesn't mean we want to hear your "enlightened" opinion on everything

      wasn't he a commercial banker at the time on Council and he voted consistently in favor of development? yep, sort of BS if you ask me

      plus, isn't he the same dude who keeps spewing off and spreading rumors and misinformation at old lady clubs that the "library will have to close" blah blah blah

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  25. Talking about affordable housing project and some changes to agreement. It involves sidewalks. Mayor does not want shoddy work if sidewalks are damaged. Harabedian says the companies came in higher than they thought now they're trying to cut bid. He doesn't think the city should be the cities problem. Mr. Salarian is here with what apears to be friends and relatives. How much fun can we have?

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  26. Someone from the builder is speaking about how. They are competent to fix the sidewalk. Trying to avoid replacing all the sidewalk. Open for public discussion. No one.

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  27. Mayor-get rid of meandering sidewalk. Brick looks shabby. Wants something more permeable. Wants sidewalk replaced. Harabedian-great project. We made concessions because it was affordable housing. Now asking for more concessions. Sidewalks should be replaced. Goss-agrees with Harabedian. He's done a lot of concrete in his time can't be that expensive. Arizmendi-concurs, Delmar agrees. Mayor-curb cut for handicap ramp would be left because it is new. Attorney-conditions changed-repair if damage happens. Take away the brick . Inman-decomposed granite in new city nan hall gardens. Mayor thinks it gets messy in rain as does Mr. Hutt.

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  28. Harabedian is busy trying to defend the 'exercise room'. Don't forget this was never going to be an exercise facility; it was going to be an illegal rental. Seriously - let's deal in facts.

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    1. it's the cheap lawyer in him

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  29. How about Harabedian's buddy build an exercise facility in Harabedian's front yard and then rent it out for rental income (don't worry about a business license - those pesky things are not necessary according to the applicant's dad - aka the general contractor)

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  30. The property on highland. I believe we read on the tattler that someone stated that the property owners father is a contractor. If so, I believe the property owner knew better.

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  31. The largest unit on this property isn't for people to live in but is instead a place for treadmills? Huh?

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  32. Goss to Gonzalez-is it impeding anyone's view No complaints. ARE THEY GONNA LET THIS GUY WALK?

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  33. Attorney-not talked about that applicant had not followed rules. Need to look at it as a site plan and see if it complies. Would need to take down a building for parking. Commissioner Spears-asked to grant a CUP-applicant did not give a persuasive need for exercise room with two full bathrooms and a kitchen. Difficult for staff and PC could not give info to applicant because bldg. was already built. No opportunity with the applicant. No need for exercise room to be built in this manner.

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  34. O I see, no CUP, No Building Permit, if city hall signs this off, then I think the Hildreaths have a better legg to sue city hall.

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  35. HE GAVE HIM CREDIT CARDS, HAD TO TAKE OUT LOANS TO PAY THEM OFF. Bob's fault he says. Caused so many family problems. Barry Gold-At PCmeeting-beyond impressed with questions asked by PC. They asked all the right questions. Watch the video if you have any doubts.

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  36. Harabedian did watch the PC meeting and they did a good job? He thinks the encroachment is okay. Haven't heard from any neighbor's. When he walked the bldg. he asked neighbor's. They didn't know who he was. Neighbor had no problem. Not in the perfect place, but it's not a horrible place. Harabedian is going for it..... Going thru 6 points made by PC- He's at #2 and finds no problem. He says there are unique bungalow's that applicant could have torn down, He didn't. He feels they demonstrated a need for this space.

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  37. I think it is called an Armenian pass.

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    1. his rationale is disjointed and constipated

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  38. So Johnny is sticking his knife into the General Plan now? Wait until after the election.

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  39. Thank God for Rachelle Arizmendi.

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  40. Spears is upset. And he should be. Harabedian is an outrageous jerk.

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    Replies
    1. it's the cheesy lawyer in him

      he thinks he's being cute and "tough"

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  41. Spears just spanked little Johnny.

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  42. They'd have to have a 3-0 vote to pass this pig of a project.

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  43. I believe everything Elaine Aguilar says. No, really!

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  44. What if they drop paramedic service? That would save $704K. That brings the difference to around $300K, with leaving the police and fire department, etc., in place...Also, who is that floating guy on the planning slide? Assuming that the graphics person is working pro bono for the City.

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  45. Wow, the No UUT initiative people didn't bother to request a special election, or even show up tonight? I guess a fringe element is what it is.

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  46. The reason they didn't ask for a special election was due to the cost. Why they aren't there? Maybe they couldn't make this meeting. They'd been there before. As for a fringe group-what about Capoccia's behavior? Over three hundred citizens signed this petition. Whether you agree with it to not, 300 people spoke. Capoccia is not a dictator. He has no right to deny a qualified petition. He is whacko!

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  47. You had to be there tonight. Never thought I'd say this - thank you Gene Goss for voting down this project. My only question is, where were the neighbors?

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    1. People don't realize they have the right to speak up about things like this.

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  48. Difficult to have "neighbors" when you are in a rental zone. No vented interest by the tennants and the landlords are thinking "...well, maybe if I lay low and this guy gets away with it, I may take a stab at an after the fact CUP application, too. This is why you need the Preservation group, to see the whole picture for the whole city and to "help" the elected officials follow the law, the law being the General Plan.

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