I finally got a chance to watch the video of last Tuesday’s council meeting. It cut on me during the meeting, just after Walker and Goloff were mopping up their attack on Sorensen, and I didn’t get it back til yesterday. I have watched the video in bits and snatches. I made it to the noise ordinance conversation last night, but had to turn it off after Jessica Allen and a couple of her friends got up to demand their rights to be bad neighbors.
One thing I learned is that the city of Chico has less than $200,000 in the reserve fund. No, I did not forget a zero on that figure, that’s it – less than $200,000. Read it and weep – and then call them to ask what they did with that property tax check you just sent in.
You can look at the budget report here: http://www.chico.ca.us/finance/budget.asp
You see the millions the city takes in, in sales tax (over $17 million) property tax (over $11 million), even taxes on your PG&E, phone and water (almost $7 million), and your visitors’ motel rooms (over $2 million). To me that seems petty - ”bed tax”? Some people think it’s a good idea to shake down the visitors of your town, as if it’s not enough that they spend money on your motels, restaurants and shopping centers. It’s a common grab all over California, every city does it. A lot of distasteful things become “common” when no decent person stands up to say “enough is enough.”
In Chico, as has been oft repeated, over 80 percent of our budget is in salaries and benefits. That’s the elephant in the room, and everybody’s getting pretty hip deep in elephant shit around here. It’s a simple concept, no matter how convoluted $taff and council try to make it: if they spend all the money on salaries, benefits, and the Great Pension Stock Market Disaster, there’s no money left to pay for supplies to say, clean up leaks in the sewer and water lines that are causing the state to fine us by the day, widen the roads that we are required to widen because of the permitting of Meriam Park, etc. And you can just get used to those pot holes in the street out front of your house. Got bad neighbors? Get a lawyer.
What’s really frustrating are the reactions of the cops and fire – they act like they don’t get paid at all. Those guys take most of the 80 percent. They get overtime written into their schedules. According to Hennessy, both fire and the cops are over budget on their workman’s comp claims for at least the third year in a row. The city just slammed another cop contract past us without public review, and signed the new chief’s contract three days before it was made available to the public, and then only by request and a direct visit to the clerk’s office Downtown.
So, we will get another year of poor response times, bitching and moaning from cops and fire. Get ready for your homeowners and your car insurance to go up – the insurance companies know when your local police and fire departments are a pile of shit.
And don’t think I’m not wondering about all those suspicious house fires.
You can just forget about any of the services a city is supposed to offer. Try to get something out of the city clerk these days – if you can catch her in the office!
Well, here’s the story of Scranton, Pennsylvania – home of Michael Scott!
The mayor of Scranton, when faced with a situation similar to Chico’s mess, did what needed to be done. Unfortunately, he waited until it was too late to do something rational. I’m afraid it’s come to that with our city council – if you think that scene between Goloff and Sorensen was rational, well, you deserve to live here.