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May 02, 2014

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Open request to Pacifica City Council: Stop Funding Chamber Waste!

I noticed some flowers and a "thank you" note from the Chamber of Commerce to a vendor for participating in an event the chamber held.

Does the city money fund flowers for vendors who participate in chamber events?

The chamber is a private organization of independent business people. How is it that it receives public monies, from taxpayers?

The chamber does not support a number of businesses in Pacifica: those being removed by the proposed Highway 1 widening project, which get no support from the chamber; and any business that does not pay into the chamber's recently increased membership dues.

The Chamber of Commerce serves the Chamber of Commerce, not the city. The city may or may not benefit from chamber membership businesses, but the chamber is for its members, not city employees. The money wasted by the city on the chamber has run its course. If $10,000 makes or breaks the chamber and its operations, then it deserves to perish. The chamber should actually be ashamed of accepting bailout money while operating a political action committee that serves nobody but the chamber board of directors.

Chris:

I was at the Pacifica Chamber of Commerce office two Saturdays ago, and the office was closed with a sign on the door that says it is open only Monday to Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The same information is on the chamber's Visit Pacifica website: http://www.visitpacifica.com/index.php?module=hours

Some of the chamber activities you listed elsewhere on Riptide are also part of the chamber's member benefits, and it's difficult to separate the two. Even if the city cuts the $10,000 funding for the visitor center, the chamber will continue to market the city to help its members, since that's what a chamber of commerce does.

Bill, why such an ax to grind about the Chamber of Commerce? I talked about what the chamber does to bring in tax values to the city in quite a long comment on another budget discussion in RIPTIDE. The city has received more than $200,000 in the last year through the chamber's marketing efforts,
which brought the transit occupancey tax (TOT) from $1.1 million to $1.3 million in 2013. The $10,000 was strictly to man the visitor's center on the weekends from May to October. The personnel dollars alone were a lot more than $10,000. We are the only marketing arm of the City of Pacifica. The chamber's money was assumed by the chamber board to come from the TOT income and not tax dollars. The city received a copy of the visitor's center budget on a yearly basis, so it knew where the $10,000 went. Your opposition to our Highway 1 opinions are coloring your thought process, my friend.

Bill, the $10,000 Pacifica gives to the Chamber of Commerce comes back to our city 10 fold. It is a bargain for what we get. Don't cut your nose to spite your face. See Chris Porter's earlier post.

"Concerned citizen" apparently doesn't know that school funding is the responsibility of the school district -- a separate governmental entity from the city -- and not managed by Pacifica City Council. This fundamental lack of understanding makes me discount whatever else he/she says.

Why can they tax for sewer and then not spend that money on the sewers? Pacifica City Council needs to be wiped clean. The sewers were mismanaged. The payrolls are mismanaged. The school funding is mismanaged. Fire these fools. Why can't we all pay a flat sewage fee like everyone else on earth? Why is it our fault that city employees fail to maintain things? Those who neglected to maintain the sewers in the past should be held responsible.

Open Letter to Pacifica City Council:

It looks as if Pacifica's budget challenge isn't very serious. If it were, you wouldn't continue the annual $10,000 contribution subsidizing whatever the Chamber of Commerce chooses to do with our endless annual tax donation, which seems to be on autopilot.

Each year, the Chamber's happy talk promises glorious outcomes if we add to its operating budget, but no elementary cost-effectiveness analysis has been mentioned. There are no data to prove that this is cost-effective, nor have you asked for it.
How long has this gift been provided? If a decade, that's $100,000. Do you think the city has received an additional $100,000 in tax revenues we would not otherwise have received if not for the Chamber subsidy?
The public has not asked you to continue this subsidy, and many of us object to the lobbying activities of the Chamber (Highway 1 widening). Do you even know how the Chamber spends our $10,000? The money disappears into its general operating budget, does it not?

Even if the Chamber hands brochures to visitors who happen to find the visitors center when it's not closed, that's not a good use of our tax monies. Let the businesses fund the Chamber. That many do not join is no reason for the taxpayers to make up the difference.

Each year you get more happy talk about how this tax subsidy holds promise to boost revenues, but there are no data to prove that it is cost-effective, nor have you asked for it. Is this how Pacifica sets budget priorities?
Is it not possible to end a budget item that has no proven effectiveness, or do they continue forever without analysis?

Todd:

http://www.sanmateocountytaxcollector.org/securedTaxes.html#q03

The county assessor asks the real property appraisers to tax based on sale price on a new sale or the assessed value on houses that did not sell.

If you paid $500,000, the tax rate in the county is applied to the $500,000 sale price. The additional items on your tax bill (school tax, sewer tax) can also double your base tax rate. People on Prop. 13 can go up only 2 percent based on the Jarvis-Gann Bill.

Your tax bill went down for a couple of years because assessed values in the county went down from 2007 to about 2010. Now values are rising and taxes are going up.

Our Childs Earth had nothing to do with the city; the enviromental group sued the city due to the 7.5-million-gallon sewer plant spill. We did not obey the state guidelines for the sewer plant. The state fined the city and this environmental group sued.

Go on the tax collector's web page and you can pull up your tax bill and look at the past couple of years.

http://www.sanmateocountytaxcollector.org/SMCWPS/pages/secureSearch.jsp

Thank you, Tom -- Our yearly property taxes went up a lot and will continue to increase. I guess the BS lawsuit from Save Our Children or whomever was an in-house affair designed so the city could get its tax increase for payroll under the guise of a legit lawsuit brought by a concerned citizens group -- that I guess was fictitious. And if that isn't the story, it's a good query for one.

It is time to outsource police to county government -- we just cannot continue to spend as if money will keep flowing to the City of Pacifica through bonds and taxes -- and let's hope the city has adequate insurance for all the lawsuits it continues to spawn.

Internal refinance = "Borrowing" $2 million a year from the sewer fund for five years. This is the same fund that is on the hook for $50 million to fix the sewer line plus plant upgrades that were expected to start in 2020. Don't worry if the fund runs short; they will just raise your sewer fees.

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