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June 01, 2009

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The payback "plan" from the state was in three years with interest added.
That could change and/or never happen.
Also unclear is whether the "borrowing" of our revenues will continue yearly.

An informative article and comments.

Does it really take 3 months to get food stamps? Wow. The feds and/or the state have really fallen down on the job, if that's true.

And if the state "borrows" our local property taxes, when will they pay it back?

Lionel, I'm going to give you the money I was going to use to renew my Trib subscription.

Lionel,

Coastside Scavenger submitted a payment plan to Steve Rhodes for review before the budget hearing to get current during the next fiscal year. Most of the shortfall stems from customers in arrears, and health codes require Coastside to still pick up garbage even when a customer hasn't paid their bill (unlike PG&E, for example, which can and will shut off your electricity if you don't pay). A city used to be able to put a lien on the property if a customer was delinquent on garbage payments, but I don't think they're allowed to do that anymore. There has also been a reduction in recycling returns due to the recession.

I did speak during public comment. I suggested the city, instead of trashing Governor Arnold over the proposed "borrowing" or property tax revenue, look toward declaring a fiscal emergency as other cities have done to at least put up a barrier to the state taking these taxes.

I was glad to hear they are moving the cafeteria plan approvals into Consideration items on future City Council agendas (they had previously been on the Consent Calendar).

I suggested the city look into the Sanchez Art Center lease agreement since I believe the city still pays their utilities and offers well below market rent. I'm all for subsidizing the arts, but if we're looking to cut youth programs, we need to find money anywhere possible.

Jim Vreeland made a comment about the Chamber of Commerce keeping their books closed, and I said I have been working on getting this information disclosed to the public, so I would send him any information he needed to help with that process.

Finally, I offered that I had publicly opposed the sales tax even when they were voting on hiring the consultants that helped put Measure D on the ballot, but I later stated I might support no more than 3/4 cent and no more than a 4-year sunset. I said the NO on D campaign did not deserve to be vilified in the press as council has been doing. Instead of putting us down, I suggested we could be easily bribed with kind words and cheap whiskey to revisit a sales tax measure for the next election.

Excellent job, Lionel.

Robbing Peter to pay Paul is becoming all too frequent. The state needs money, so it takes from the counties and cities. The bottom line is there just is not enough money to go around. This is like a version of Sophie's Choice: line up everyone and you decide who lives and who dies.

Regarding Coastside Scavenger, the good news is that while its payment to the city is late, Chris Porter from Coastside said that the company will be giving a check to the city for the full amount of $488,000 by the end of the fiscal year. Jeff Simons spoke a little on this during the public-comments period.

The problem according to Coastside is that the city no longer allows it to place delinquent customers on the tax rolls, so it has no way to force delinquent customers to pay. Coastside is mandated to pick up garbage whether people pay or not, and Coastside currently has $300,000 in delinquent accounts. Also, the price for recycled paper has dropped to $0 for the past three months, which is something Chris says she has never seen happen in the 25 year she's worked here, and the price of recycled metal has gone from $200/ton to $10/ton. Revenues from local businesses have also been reduced because of the bad economy.

Thanks, Lionel, that was eye-opening for me.

I'm writing Jerry Hill and Leland Yee to tell them that stealing from cities and counties to balance the state budget is despicable. I hope others do the same.

I hope the Resource Center gets to keep at least some of its funding; they need it now more than ever.

And bravo, Mary Ann, for opening up the benefits issue. We're lucky to have you on the Council.

Lionel,

Coastside Scavneger submitted a payment plan to Steve Rhodes for review before the budget hearing to get current during the next fiscal year. Most of the shortfall stems from customers in arrears, and health codes require Coastside to still pick up garbage even when a customer hasn't paid their bill (unlike PG&E for example who can and will shut off your electricity if you don't pay). Used to be a city could put a lien on the property if a customer was delinquent on garbage payments, but I don't think they're allowed to do that any more. There has also been a reduction in recycling returns due to the recession.

I did speak during public comment. I suggested the city, instead of trashing Governor Arnold over the proposed "borrowing" or property tax revenue, look towards declaring a fiscal emergency as other cities have down to at least put up a barrier to the state taking these taxes.

I was glad to hear they are moving the cafeteria plan approvals into Consideration on future agendas (it had previously been on the Consent Calendar). I suggested the city look into the Sanchez Art Center lease agreement since I believe the city still pays their utilities and offers well below market rent. I'm all for subsidizing the arts, but if we're looking to cut youth programs, we need to find money anywhere possible.

Jim Vreeland made a comment about the Chamber of Commerce keeping their books closed and I said I have been working on getting this information disclosed to the public, so I would send him any information he needed to help with that process.

Finally, I offered that I had publicly opposed the sales tax even when they were voting on hiring the consultants that helped put Measure D on the ballot, but I later stated I might agree to no more than 3/4 cent and no more than 4 year sunset so its not like the NO on D campaign deserved to be vilified in the press as council has been doing. Instead of putting us down, I suggested we could be easily bribed with kind words and cheap whiskey to revisit a sales tax measure for the next election.

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