Here is how the Star News put it:
It’s a bit of a scramble. We understand the nostalgic reasons for wanting to hold onto a police force to call your own. But the practical reasons to do so have disappeared. So have many of the members of the force, down to 11 officers from the former 20. It’s time for Sierra Madreans to move on and be served by the Sheriff’s Department. And it’s time for City Hall to follow its own timeline on the utility tax and allow it to go back down to the level proposed rather than be hiked again.
You have to wonder why this level of logic escapes not only a large portion of the voters in Sierra Madre, but also the city's entire government agency. City Council included.
In an excellent article in today's edition of our local daily newspaper of record, the Pasadena Star News, reporter Claudia Palma also examines the tax struggle taking place in town. It is called "Election 2016: What’s a stake in Sierra Madre’s Utility Users Tax vote," and you can link to it in its entirety by clicking here.
In this piece you can read the usual stuff from Mayor Capoccia and Councilmember Harabedian. There is nothing much new in what they have to say, though the article does give you an opportunity to admire Mr. Harabedian's mastery of lawyerly bromides. Nobody can say absolutely nothing with more gravity and importance than the Councilman.
And so you know, Mayor Capoccia thinks that anyone who is opposed to passing Measure UUT is "completely illogical." I wonder if Capoccia is aware that his irascible way of communicating his thoughts to others might have contributed to the Pasadena Star News deciding to recommend a "NO" vote on Measure UUT.
That act really is getting old, and does not serve him well.
What makes this article as important as it is, however, is the coverage given to Michael Amerio. Michael, who is the sole individual running for the job of Sierra Madre City Treasurer, weighs in on the linked issues of community policing and higher utility taxes in an interesting and fresh way. Here is how his portion reads.
“There is a lot of opportunity to safely cut expenses. When that is done, I am good with taxes,” said Michael Amerio, a resident and city treasurer candidate who is running unopposed in the election. “I am good with a higher UUT. I am not good with a higher UUT with what I believe to be a little bit of reckless spending."
Amerio, a certified public accountant for more than 20 years, helped prepare the ballot argument against the UUT measure for this election, as well as in the 2014 election.
He noted during a candidate forum last week that the city claims to have reduced spending but the budget shows an increase of more than $1 million over the last three years.
One of the big ways opponents say the city can save money to make up for the revenue deficit is by contracting with the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for police services, which would save about $800,000 a year.
“Our police department is great. This has nothing to do with the service of the police department, it simply has to do with, can we afford the police department?” Amerio said. “(Contracting with the Sheriff’s Department) would allow us to secure our financial stability. This will allow our UUT dollars to be used for tangible civic improvements.”
Reasonable and well-stated, right?
In case you are not aware, Michael Amerio runs one of the biggest accounting firms in the area. Here is how his gig is described on the company's website (link):
Michael is Lucas Horsfall’s Managing Partner. He has over 20 years of public accounting experience. He provides audit, income tax and business advisory services to privately held companies and individuals in a wide variety of industries, including manufacturing, construction, insurance brokerage and not-for-profit organizations. These services have been rendered to clients ranging in size from start-ups to middle market businesses. Additionally, Mike has substantial experience with employee benefit plan audits.
Michael is a graduate of San Diego State University where he received his Bachelor of Science Degree in Accounting. His professional affiliations include memberships in the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and California Society of Certified Public Accountants. Mike is an active member in various business and civic community activities including volunteering with various youth sports leagues. He lives in Sierra Madre with his wife Cynthia and their three sons.
That line about "substantial experience with employee benefit plan audits" is an interesting one. As an elected official in charge of the city's finances Mr. Amerio will have complete access to all of the city's books. It will be interesting to see how he deals with problems such as Sierra Madre's $9.6 million dollar CalPERS shortfall.
I'm not sure the City Manager is going to be too excited about that.