I am asking the citizens to Vote NO on the current UUT measure on the ballot. I have spoken out at City Council Meetings expressing my opinion to extend the 10% Utility Tax was the way to go to help maintain the budget of Sierra Madre services.
I have since changed my mind after reviewing facts, figures, and the Sierra Madre budget. I believe that the City of Sierra Madre can sustain all of the current services and activities without the extension (which is essentially a tax raise) and still operate at its current level.
Here is why:
• The sunset clause will not occur until July 1, 2015. That means on July 1st 2015, the rate will go down to 8% -- more than a year from now.
• In the meantime, Edison, The Gas Co. and the Sierra Madre Water Department have raised their rates (water rates will increase 61% over the next five years) which will bring in additional revenue from UUT taxes.
• Sierra Madre property taxes rise from one year to the next, and nothing in the horizon tells us that the City will not gain additional property tax revenue.
• There are new businesses coming to town which will help increase our sales tax base.
• On July 1, 2016 the UUT rate is scheduled to be reduced to 6%. This is what the administration calculated to be the figure in 2008, and was confirmed by the Citizens by a vote in 2012.
I am Chairman of the Community Services Commission and am President of the Friends of the Library. I’m not speaking for either organization but as a concerned citizen. Would I like to see services of either the Library or Community Services suffer because of a lack of funds? Of course not. My heart and volunteer efforts have always gone to enhance the quality of life of Sierra Madre Citizens.
I have seen nothing in the figures that will compromise the police, paramedics, fire, library, public works or community services. And, in the worst case scenario, another vote can always come up in 2016 to either hold the line at 8% or some other figure.
I urge the citizens of Sierra Madre to vote NO on the tax increase of the UUT.
Sincerely, Pat Alcorn
(Mod: John Lewis is one of two CPAs who came to the podium last Tuesday evening to speak out against the stiff utility tax increases that are part and parcel to Measure UUT. His "simple math" approach to the otherwise overwrought and highly political mess handed to us by City Hall is a breath of fresh air.)
My name is John Lewis and I am a resident of Sierra Madre ... I am also a CPA and co-author of the NO on UUT tax argument. I'd like to take just a moment to share with you a couple of quick thoughts about the tax increase.
I am not here to argue for lower revenue for the city, but I am here to argue for common sense and simple math.
Revenue that a government derives out of a particular tax is a function of two things: the tax rate and the tax base. in this case, as we all known the tax base is our utility bills, and I think we are all painfully aware already that our water rates, which dominate our utility bills, have begun to increase and will continue to increase through next July to a total of more than 50%.
That means the tax base against which the tax is assessed will be substantially larger than it has been. What that means is, that based on simple math, it is highly unlikely that to allow the UUT rate to reduce as previously agreed will result in a lower total revenue to the city.
I think, as a result, arguments that the UUT rate and its scheduled decline will result in risk to the city's basic services are at best silly, and at worst deceptive. Thank you.
(Mod: John Capoccia has now written a three part "War & Peace" sized tome on the Measure UUT controversy. If brevity is the soul of wit, then John has written something quite different. He certainly does try hard to conflate city employee benefits with salaries. Apples, oranges, and maybe bok choy were not spared in the concocting of this special brew. But just below is my favorite part.)
The total compensation we offer our employees is far less that our neighbors (don't take my word for it, I invite you to peruse the "Transparent California" website to do your own comparisons - call me and tell me what you find!) Sierra Madre offers its employees a total compensation package that is merely sufficient to retain and recruit competent employees.
(Mod: What other cities pay their employees should have little influence on what we have to offer. There is no bigger story in California these days than how badly government employees are being overcompensated, with some cities actually going into bankruptcy because of it. To me that is a race we should have backed out of 15 years ago … But since Councilmember Capoccia did mention Transparent California, I do have a chart here from them that I can share with you. The numbers highlighted in pink represent some of the highest health plan costs in the state. I guess to go along with our highest utility taxes in the state.)
(Mod: So let me ask you this. These "low" salaries that John Capoccia speaks of are listed above. If these jobs were put on the market and people invited to interview for them, how long do you think the line of applicants would be? Maybe from City Hall all the way over to Michillinda? … I really don't see why we have to offer the highest priced health benefits in the state in hopes that somebody won't pack up their pocket protector and head for a new job in, say, Asuza. Let them go. Give the job to someone who'd appreciate it. How about somebody who actually lives in Sierra Madre, and likes being here?)