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Opinion: Are City Sales Tax Increases Fronts for Paying Off CalPRS 50% Contribution Increase?

In government money is fungible.  If you take taxes in, pass a budget, who is to say you cannot via an innocuous “loan” money to another account?  Then when does the loan get paid back?  Who is watching and reporting on that?  Do citizens need a CPA to become worthy watchers of city hall?

In San Luis Obispo the city council is looking at putting an extension of a sales tax on the November ballot—without a petition drive.  They are trying to use an old Charter City ruling to allow a majority of the council to put it on the ballot instead of the normal four of five council members.

The bigger issue is how they are going to spend the money. At a forum it was said, “On Wednesday, a list of 17 possible options for cutbacks was circulated at the meeting attended by about 50 people including city staff. Attendees listed their top cutback choices as downtown improvement programs, open-space acquisition and staff salaries.”

But note not a dime for the 50% increase in the CalPRS demanded contributions.  My guess is that other accounts in the budget are being used—and this sales tax extension is a cover for the taking of other funds.  How is San Luis Obispo paying for the CalPRS increase?

Then you have the cities of Atascadero and Turlock  Both are claiming to be putting sales tax extensions and increases on the ballot in November for “roads and public safety”.  Like San Luis Obispo, neither city is telling how they are getting the money to pay for the CalPRS increases.

In Atascadero, they claimed, “The council also proposed creating a citizens advisory committee to oversee expenditures of the sales tax, if it is passed.

The total cost of placing the measures on the ballot is estimated to be about $10,000 and would be paid out of the general fund.”  How is the money being spent?  “The tax increase is expected to generate $1.7 million to $2 million annually, which the council said would go toward fixing the city’s roads.

Councilman Bob Kelley said, “I’m not for new taxes or fees, never have been, but our roads situation is a crisis.”

But nowhere does the city note how they are paying the CalPRS tax.

Turlock is similar to the other two cities.  “(Councilman)White said he would like most of the proceeds to go to the repair of existing streets rather than building new routes.

“We have no mechanism at present to take care of the major thoroughfares and the big feeder streets that everyone uses for shopping and general use,” he said.

Yet the city is not telling how they are getting the money to pay for the CalPRS increases.  As I watch the news I have noticed numerous cities are considering sales tax increases or extensions

Last week CalPRS announced the tax increase is $459 million.  That will pay for nothing.  According to Federal criteria the system has a $640 billion unfunded liability.  It is growing and $459 million added in one year will not be noticed. We are watching a train wreck in slow motion.

Democrats refuse to any reform of the system.  When San Jose and San Diego voters passed minor reforms by 70% of the vote, the unions sued—and both cities continue to be in economic distress.

In November Ventura County will have a ballot measure that completely reforms the system, without going into full details, turns CalPRS accounts in 401 (K) accounts?  I will bet it will pass—maybe with a 70% margin.

As sure as I know you are reading this you know there will be lawsuits lasting years.  In fact it will take the collapse of the pension system to finally force Democrats to take action.  Rhode Island, Illinois, Detroit, Alabama have all had retirees that have lost pension payments thanks to a refusal to fix their system.

Obama just sent $100 million to Detroit for housing.  That “freed” up $100 million in the budget for housing to be used for pension payments.  In a sense, like the Texas two step in California using sales tax money.

More proof that Obama can not be trusted by foreign leaders or American citizens.  (He refused to turn over the NSA records he kept on the German Leader  Merkel when she asked)

I have a solution.  Go to your city council and your Board of Supervisors.  Ask them a simple question, how much extra money this year and next will our community need to pay CalPRS—and where are you getting the money?

The idea of an oversight committee for taxes is a joke.  In Ventura County a school district passed a bond, which included the formation of an oversite committee.

The Chair of the Committee was forced to go to the DA to get to see the financial records of the expenditures of the bond—and the DA refused to intercede—tens of millions spent with absolutely no oversite.  That is government at its worst.

We have a right to know.  If the government agency refuses to honestly answer the question you have the right to campaign against and vote against any tax or bond increases.  Do not allow government to fool or mislead you again.  Think government can be trusted? Then you are the problem as well.

Stephen Frank

Stephen Frank is the editor of California Political News & Views. Twitter: @capoliticalnews

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