Vanguard Analysis: Has the City Already Lost Control of the Tax Message?

walletThe city of Davis has to act on February 11 to put a tax measure on the ballot or face the prospect of waiting until 2016 for the sales tax, the only measure the city can put on the ballot that has a simple majority vote requirement.

Facing a $5.1 million deficit and having already reached agreements with city employees on new contracts and having cut over 100 FTE off its workforce since 2007-08, the city decided to go a different direction and seek revenue measures instead of more cuts.  This was never going to be an easy task – not with the still depressed economy locally, not with the school district’s five parcel taxes since 2007, and not with the city water rate hikes – but that realty was compounded with avoidable mistakes.

Uncertainty hangs over the air and the timing couldn’t be worse.  June will bring new elections with at least one new councilmember and if things work out in one scenario, we could have as many as three new members of the city council by January 2015.  We already know Joe Krovoza will not be on council as he seeks the Assembly seat.  Rochelle Swanson faces reelection and should Dan Wolk win the Assembly seat in November as many still expect, he would resign in January.

Compounding that uncertainty is the prospect that City Manager Steve Pinkerton will accept the job offer at Incline Village.  While Mr. Pinkerton has done well in building up a quality staff over his tenure in Davis, the prospect of losing its leader at this critical moment will be daunting.  Davis will need to quickly find an interim city manager with the cache and ability to step in and guide the ship while looking long term for a permanent fill.

A week after city staff spent a good morning responding to a budget piece in the Vanguard, there was radio silence in the face of more serious challenges this week.

There is a level of self-inflicted damage here.  On June 23, the Vanguard reported that the city was going to be facing a new and more serious structural deficit beginning in the fiscal year 2014-15.  During the budget discussion for 2013-14, Steve Pinkerton presented a graph showing that Davis’ General Fund Balance would go from a position $3.09 million to a negative $15.07 million by 2017-18.

By December, we know that this was not a worst-case scenario, but in fact an optimistic assessment as the current project is $28 million – a $32 million shortfall over the next five years.  It was during that that the idea was raised, most vocally by Rochelle Swanson, that there had to be included in the discussion whether the city increases fees and taxes to offset the impending deficit.

That was in June 2013.  The city manager presented the projected 2014-15 budget deficit in mid-December.  Where was the public outreach?  Where was the planning?

Even the so-called focus group was an informal effort by Dan Wolk and Brett Lee to engage the public.  The city did not put the tax measure before the council until last week and now the city faces the prospect of having to pass something next week.

That means that the city cannot give a lot attention to the idea floated by the Davis Enterprise in their editorial on Tuesday, that the city consider outsourcing.  There are certainly ways for the city to save money that way, they are probably not going to be able to figure them out by next week, and it probably would not have a huge impact on the size of the tax increase anyway.

Compounding this problem is another issue that just gained public traction last week – the Publicly Owned Utility.  The city spent a lot of work and put $400,000 into examining the possibility of a POU that city officials believe will enable the city to save money – perhaps as high as 20% annually on energy costs, while having greater autonomy to keep energy resources local.

But when the city put an additional $600,000 expenditure into a consent item, it quickly lost control of the message.  PG&E itself quickly pushed back by arguing that its infrastructure was not for sale and arguing for an inflated cost for that infrastructure.

Perhaps more damage was done by a push-poll by Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Kemble Pope.  His survey to chamber members asked the respondents, “The City of Davis is moving forward with plans to separate from Pacific Gas & Electric Company (PG&E) and has spent $400,000 over the past two years on this project. Tonight, they will vote to spend an additional $600,000 on consultants to create a workplan to create a municipally owned electricity enterprise. Total cost of purchasing PG&E’s assets is unknown. SHOULD THE CITY CONTINUE WITH THESE PLANS?”

The imbalance of the question laid out the costs without the benefits, but it primed the debate.

The city found some creative ways to make the $1 million cost affordable even in a tough budget climate.  First, they used $400,000 from the wastewater fund to fund the original consultant report.  And now the additional $600,000 will be borrowed at a low rate of interest from that fund to be paid back over 10 years.

What that means is that each year the city is spending $66,000 to examine whether it can save 20% on its electricity bill.  Even in these tough times, that pushes the deficit from $5.1 million to $5.166 million.  That is not going to make a huge difference.

Unfortunately, the debate has now centered on the $1 million.

The Enterprise fanned the flame, probably unwittingly, when it wrote in its Sunday article, “Fast-forward again to last week, when the City Council borrowed money from a wastewater fund to continue future incremental payments that could push the tab spent on exploring public power to the $1 million authorized so far.

“This is no small chunk of change in a city with a $5.1 million structural budget deficit. Voters likely will be asked to pass a combination of sales and parcel taxes on ballots this year.

“But is that $1 million worth it in the long run?”

That cemented the $1 million issue and it has become lumped in with the city’s sales tax initiative.

That generated not one but three letters pushing back.

“We are not made of money. This city doesn’t need to be the leader in everything; we can’t afford it!” one reader wrote in.  “We do not need to study having our own publicly owned utility! We do not need this. In the end, how different will this be from having PG&E as our utility company? After all, aren’t we giving up our water management to a private company?”

She concluded, “I’m horrified that we’ve already spent $400,000 on this and have borrowed $600,000 from the wastewater treatment fund.  Please, let’s start being more fiscally sensible in this city.”

Another woman wrote in: “I learned that the city is facing a shortfall and is looking to raise taxes. The next day, The Enterprise ran an article that the city wants to spend money it does not have to look into forming a city utility.”

She adds, “The City Council appears to me not to know how to manage tax dollars very well. I know how I will vote if the tax issue comes on a ballot.”

Finally, a gentleman writes in with almost the same message, “So, the city can spend $1 million to consider private utilities, but still wants to raise sales tax and put a parcel tax on us also to balance the budget? Shouldn’t the council be spending what little money we have on our current situation instead of creating new ones and then taxing us more?”

He concludes, “Once we get the city’s coffers in order, then we can focus on the ‘wouldn’t it be nice’ items. It seems this City Council is just as bad as prioritizing things as most past councils.”

The managing of the message by the city has been poor.  The city had to know from the 2006 SMUD campaign as well as other communities that have tried to separate from PG&E that this was going to be a dog-fight and a relatively dirty one.

The Enterprise article from yesterday cites Janet Thatcher, who claims to be a retired electric utility consultant and having worked for SMUD she argued that the city’s analysis “could” be flawed “because it’s from the perspective of an economist.”

She told the Enterprise, “My impression is that the mayor and council do see a public utility as a cash cow for the city…  If the utility is a city department, funds from the utility can be used in the general fund. I believe that the whole idea is being sold promising everything to everyone — lower electric costs, renewable energy, better reliability and a solution to the city’s financial woes.”

Last week the Vanguard reported on a push poll that was coming in from Utah.  Mike Warren, Director of Operations at Quantel Research, located in Ogden, Utah, confirmed they were polling in Davis, but declined to comment as to the nature of that polling.

The Vanguard was tipped off that the questions were PG&E-related.  Brandi Ehlers, PG&E Corporate Relations representative, told the Vanguard on Wednesday, “I have confirmed that we are not polling at this time in Davis, related to the City’s recent actions.”

The Vanguard learned yesterday that the poll was conducted at the behest of IBEW 1245.  IBEW (International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers) has often worked on behalf of PG&E and their home page references their work for PG&E.

The city needs to be prepared for a long, drawn out, and at times potential nasty and dirty campaign.

But the messaging from the POU is now starting to interfere with the prospects of a sales tax election.  Those in the public looking for an excuse to not support the three-quarters cent sales tax proposal – should it be put on the ballot – are arguing that the million dollar expenditure, even financed and spread out as it is, suggests that the city does not have the need for the additional revenue.

They see the POU as a luxury in a time of fiscal crisis.

None of this is insurmountable, but the impression the Vanguard got yesterday was that there was no one really minding the store.  Given that several councilmembers are either running for another office or for reelection, they all have day jobs, and the city manager is focused at least partly on his future prospects, the city did not respond yesterday as it did to a much lesser threat just eight days earlier.

How does this play out in June?  Does the city have time and skill to refocus the message?  Only time will tell.  But the city has enough to worry about without all of these messaging problems.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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76 Comments

  1. Michelle Millet

    I hope that the decisions made by voters in Davis wether it be on tax increases, the POU, or city council candidates, are based on factualy accurate information.

    As far as the POU goes I hope the city takes on the challenge of countering any false or misleading information PG&E throws out there, as well as correcting the concerns of misinformed citizens. I also hope the city makes every effort to ensure that the information they supply is as accurate as possible, so that people can make decisions based on unbiased facts, not misunderstanding and false rumors. Not an easy task, but I hope they commit to it’s undertaking.

  2. iPad Guy

    “The city found some creative ways to make the $1 million cost affordable even in a tough budget climate. First, they used $400,000 from the wastewater fund to fund the original consultant report. And now the additional $600,000 will be borrowed at a low rate of interest from that fund to be paid back over 10 years.”

    I’m not sure that buying something with a loan that requires paying back the principal plus interest (how much?) makes a $1-million purchase more “affordable” than it would have been by paying cash. But, let me try out the concept with my wife on this new pickup I’ve been eyeing but that she thinks isn’t a good buy for us.

    Awhile back, you discounted concerns about spending this $1-million because it doesn’t come from the pot marked “General Fund.” Of course, I’m not sure that we should keep saying, “Don’t be concerned about whether spending a million here or five million there makes sense because it comes from REA or some other, non-GF fund.”

    From what pot will the annual loan payments payments be coming?

      1. Mark West

        And all the money is coming from the people’s pockets, regardless of how the City accounts for it.

        Neither the source of the funding nor the fact that we are yet again financing an expense to be paid off at a later date, changes the fact that the City is paying up to $1 Million to study the issue. Arguments to the contrary are simply nonsense.

    1. Michelle Millet

      In order to facilitate the financing, City staff recommends that an interfund loan be made from the City’s Wastewater Fund to the General Fund. Similar to other interfund loans recently executed by the City, this loan would accrue interest at 1.9%; however, it is being proposed that the balance would be paid back by the General Fund at that time financing for the proposed acquisition of electrical utility assets is secured. If the assets are not acquired, then payment could be pay annually over a term not to exceed 10 years. Implementation of Resolution 13-169 is estimated to cost approximately $600,000. The finance charges under these terms could add another $60,000 to the repayment obligation.

  3. Tia Will

    “I hope that the decisions made by voters in Davis wether it be on tax increases, the POU, or city council candidates, are based on factualy accurate information.”

    Michelle has this right. I think we will do far better if we base our decisions on accurate information and substantive evidence rather than what “could” be the case with the speculation largely based on pre existing bias or ideologic preferences from any perspective.

    1. Matt Williams

      Tia, here is a reposting of the comparative savings numbers from the public documents that were part of the analysis of Measure H in 2006

      SMUD vs. PG&E: SAMPLE ELECTRIC BILLS: September 2006

      Utility Co. ____ Residential (700 kWh) _____ Business (2000 kWh) ______ Supermarket (250,000 kWh)
      PG&E ________________ $90 _______________________ $375 _________________________ $31,824 _____________
      SMUD ________________ $65 ______________________ $217 _________________________ $27,055 _____________
      Savings with SMUD __ $25/month ______________ $158/month__________________ $ 4,768/month _____
      Savings with SMUD __ 27.8% ____________________ 42.1% ________________________ 15.0% ______________

      Those comparative savings amounts are substantial.

        1. Matt Williams

          Good question G.I. those numbers are the rates that PG&E customers in Yolo were paying at 2006. In order to get their rates approved by the CPUC, PG^E had to submit its Fixed Costs associated with its Yolo County infrastructure. The CPUC validated the submitted costs as part of the rate setting process.

          So the simple answer is “Yes.”

          Note, if the comparison of SMUD vs. PG&E were updated to 2014, both the PG&E infrastructure costs and the SMUD infrastructure costs would both be inflated by the same CPI percentages.

          1. growth issue

            So Matt, are you saying we will see the 20% savings from what we’re paying now whether the infrastructure costs we have to pay to PG&E are $20 million or say it ends up being $100 million?

          2. Matt Williams

            That is a loaded question G.I. but I’ll engage it nonetheless. Ultimately the same process that the CPUC uses for factoring a utility’s infrastructure costs into the rate calculations is the same process that the Courts use in adjudicating between a current utility and a forming MOU.

            The in place infrastructure cost, the infrastructure age, the infrastructure useful life, and the infrastructure replacement cost are four of the factors that the CPUC and the Courts use.

            So, whatever the number actually ends up being agreed to by PG&E and the POU, that number will be very consistent with the costs that are part of the rates that the ratepayers currently pay for their electrical power.

            Note: if PG&E asks $100 million for their infrastructure, they will gat no traction because their rate filings say that that number is a fantasy.

        2. David Greenwald

          You have to understand that PG&E faces the loss of millions of dollars of revenue each year with the loss of the Davis customer base, and therefore any information you receive from them should be taken with that perspective in mind.

          1. growth issue

            But our rates and the 20% savings is predicated on us buying the system for $20 million? So now that we know that PG&E is balking at that figure we really don’t know what if any savings there might be, right? Am I missing something here?

          2. Matt Williams

            No, you are not missing anything. The infrastructure transfer costs are still to be negotiated, and if the agreed upon price is higher than the projection in the consultant’s report, then the savings number will need to be recalculated.

            Let’s say that the savings gets reduced to 15%. Is that kind of savings interesting to you?

            On the other hand, the differential between the SMUD bills and the PG&E bills for a 700 kWh Residential customer in 2006 was 27.8%. SMUD has lower than average power acquisition costs which drive a savings that is higher than 20%. That tells us all that infrastructure acquisition costs are not the only factor that drives rates.

          3. growth issue

            Matt:
            “The infrastructure transfer costs are still to be negotiated, and if the agreed upon price is higher than the projection in the consultant’s report, then the savings number will need to be recalculated”

            Okay now, it felt like I was pulling teeth to get you to admit that.

          4. David Greenwald

            If you’re asking if there is risk, then answer is always yes. But the up front expenditures seem a small price to pay when weighed against the down the line benefits.

          5. Matt Williams

            That was a given G.I. I am on record in earlier comments that I think 20% could well be high. You must have missed that post. Do you want me to repost it?

          6. SouthofDavis

            David wrote:

            > You have to understand that PG&E faces the loss of millions
            > of dollars of revenue each year with the loss of the Davis
            > customer base, and therefore any information you receive
            > from them should be taken with that perspective in mind.

            We also can’t forget that the people running and providing power (including “greener” power) to the POU will GAIN the millions of dollars in revenue each year from the Davis customer base and “therefore any information you receive from them should be taken with that perspective in mind.”

          7. David Greenwald

            That’s not really accurate. Right now the city is the one who has commissioned the study and the city may benefit from the reduced costs, but there no revenue base that they are going to receive from it. So the converse in this case does not hold.

          8. Matt Williams

            I disagree David. I believe the concern SouthofDavis has raised is a valid one. Bias is omnidirectional. it can come from anywhere.

          9. Matt Williams

            Agreed SoD. That is why you hire independent consultants and tap into the considerable amount of expertise that exists here in Davis regarding the delivery of electrical power to customers.

      1. Rich Rifkin

        There is a practical problem with comparing a DMUD with SMUD and thinking their electric rates would be similar because both are POUs. SMUD gets a good share–the exact percentage I am unsure–of its electrical power from hydroelectric*. Other low-cost MUDs are in the same boat, and hence can offer very low rates, because hydro is by far the cheapest source of electric power. Unfortunately, all the hydroelectric sources are fully subscribed now. A DMUD will have no access to the existing hydro power, unless it buys some on the spot market, and that will sell for the same price as any spot market source, such as gas, nuclear, coal, etc.
        ________

        *SMUD’s Upper American River Project provides roughly 1.8 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity per year, enough to power 180,000 homes.

        1. SouthofDavis

          We all know that we “could” save 20% on our electrical costs just like we all know that we “could” make $10K a month “flipping houses” (I heard a house flipping ad on the radio yesterday). The POU will get my vote if they show me exactly how they plan to do this and show me some examples of other cities that created a POU and got ~20% savings.

          P.S. I would also like to see more details on exactly what we are getting for the $1 million we are spending to study the POU…

          1. iPad Guy

            SoD, please provide the information you cited about re. how I can make $10,000 a month flipping houses.

            I’ll be much more interested in borrowing money we don’t have to finance studies and in spending tax revenues with little concern because “it isn’t coming from General Fund monies” once I’ve got this extra 10K coming in.

      1. Tia Will

        GI

        That “could” would refer to the uncertainly of that word, wherever it occurs be, it a reference to the possible savings or to the assertion that we “could” actually see substantially less benefit.

        When one reads that something “could” happen, my mind automatically inserts the phrase “or could not” until I have seem actual substantiating data. That was essentially my point in a previous post that I hope that our decisions as voters will be made on the basis of the “best available evidence” and not some unfounded assertion regardless of whether or not it is in alignment with our prejudgements ( and yes, we all make them).

        1. Michelle Millet

          I hope that our decisions as voters will be made on the basis of the “best available evidence” and not some unfounded assertion regardless of whether or not it is in alignment with our prejudgements ( and yes, we all make them).

          I agree, the 20% reduction rate was not pulled out of thin air. It was the conclusion of a report compiled by experts in this field.

          That being said I don’t think we should rely solely on the report. I prefer my information to come from multiple sources.

          What I don’t want to see happen is people skewing information to affirm their positions or hiding relevant and information that may hurt their position. These types of tactics are counterproductive and hope they are not engaged in as we move forward on this issue.

  4. SODA

    Agree the message needs work. Add to that that the recent $600K approval was on consent didn’t help matters. I agree with Joe that this has been a longer road with more history than it appears, and the arguments that this was a new concept from other CCmen and the Chamber were either uninformmed if not disingenuous, but at the same time, is it wise to continue full steam ahead considering bot our finances and the effort it will take at this time? Would a delay be appropriate? The work thus far will still be applicable down the road…..

  5. Day Man

    I admit this makes me nervous. I have long supported getting out from under PG&E, and I think a POU is a great opportunity for the city. But my thinking has been similar to David’s: in a year with turnover of 1-3 CC members, potentially a city manager search, and up to two tax measures on the ballot, do we have the time and energy to wage war with PG&E right now? They’re going to throw everything they have at this. I’m not sure we can do the same. But to stand down for that reason alone seems defeatist.

    1. Frankly

      Echos my thinking exactly.

      I would add another concern.

      The San Bruno gas explosion has resulted in multimillion dollar lawsuits against PG&E. I assume that a POU will require significant liability insurance, but I very much doubt it would cover the full liability of a similar event in Davis. So, do we really want to carry that liability? Do we really think that a POU would do a better job preventing risk of a similar event?

      There are two monetary justifications to consider: one is the tangible hard dollar costs and benefits. The other needs to factor risks. And I see a whole lot of additional risks being adopted by the city… a small city lacking adequate revenue and resources to deal with anything extra.

      I see a POU as a “shiny thing” that some people are chasing without giving consideration to the total costs, risks and timing.

        1. Frankly

          PG&E will pay $565 million in damages. PG&E stockholders are suing PG&E over it.

          I don’t think the risk management pool would cover anything close to this level of a liability. We would see our rates skyrocket if a similar event occurred.

          1. Michelle Millet

            PG&E will pay $565 million in damages.

            How are they going to cover these costs? Think shareholders will take the hit or PG&E customers?

          2. Frankly

            Probably both.

            This brings up a question.

            The CA PUC establishes the rules for rates. Does this extend to POUs?

        2. Matt Williams

          David, while I don’t disagree with you about the value of the City’s risk management pool in mitigating any risk that does exist, the bigger issue is just how much risk there actually is. I look forward to hearing people weigh in regarding how much liability risk they see an electrical utility having.

      1. Matt Williams

        Very good question Frankly. Liability for a catastrophic event is an important concern. Given that the POU will only apply to the delivery of electricity and not the delivery of natural gas, what catastrophes do you think we could have in an electrical delivery system in the worst case scenario?

        1. Frankly

          Our electric lines are mostly underground, but there are plenty of risks. Fire is one for lines connecting to properties, etc.. Also, installation can rupture gas lines and other utilities.

          Certainly there would be more liability with gas delivery.

          1. Rich Rifkin

            Frankly, keep in mind that a Davis POU would not deliver any gas. It would only be for electric service. SMUD customers, for example, still get all of their gas from PG&E. So any liability question with gas delivery would not apply to a DMUD.

      2. Day Man

        Yes, as Matt says, the proposed POU is only for electricity. I would need to know more, but I don’t think I could support a POU the size of Davis delivering natural gas, in large part due to the liability issues Frankly brought up. But I don’t think the liability concerns have much relevance to electrical distribution, as I don’t think the electrical infrastructure would carry more risk than other city-run services. Maybe a need to slightly broaden the risk pool, but not disproportionately so. It’s not like the city POU is going to build a nuclear plant in the Mace curve…

  6. Michael Harrington

    David: go ask the electeds. We voted for them to deal with these budget things.

    They want a parcel tax? Nice, but where is the list of projects to list on the ballot, so we know where the money is going to be spent? Last minute, too late maybe to get that list and community buy-in? Why is that our problem? What was the City doing instead of minding the store? Oh, I forgot: two of them running for higher office, so what do they care about the mess left behind?

    No, David: the burden is not on civilians to fix the mess this CC made. Let them come forward with some reasonable plans, and we can then respond.

    1. Ryan Kelly

      Mike – You keep talking about direct democracy, but, at least for this issue, you seem to be happy to have our elected representatives deal with this difficult issue. Here’s your opportunity to weigh in and maybe suggest some solutions. Time to walk the talk. But if you are OK with our representatives figuring out what to do, then please don’t complain later about the decision they reach, how they reached it or when they reached it.

      Let’s hear your recommendations.

  7. Nancy Price

    Let’s factor in the cost savings that results from having local green and renewable energy that reduces CO2 and mitigates the impact of global warming on individual health and the environment.

    1. Frankly

      Nancy – this is a very big stretch. And the evidence is in for the government-sponsored pursuit of green energy being very costly. Comments like yours – although I understand the interest – are the main reason I am against a Davis POU. Just like the land preservation activists and Measure O, it will give the environmental activists a mechanism to cause Davis residents more financial pain resulting from the pursuit of the activist agenda.

      1. growth issue

        Ditto to what Frankly just stated. I think we all know where this is leading which imo will be higher costs than if we had a mixture of different energy sources. I predict that the liberals in Davis will eventually hijack the POU and force them to buy 100% green energy at a much higher cost to it citizens.

        1. Michelle Millet

          I predict that the liberals in Davis will eventually hijack the POU and force them to buy 100% green energy at a much higher cost to it citizens.

          Yes, your predictions about what liberals are going to do, this is what we should base important decisions on.

          1. growth issue

            Michelle, did you read Nancy Price’s post above? My prediction is already fomenting and the project hasn’t even been approved yet.

    2. Ryan Kelly

      Nancy, alternative energy sources should be included in any system we have. It might reduce the amount of energy we would have to purchase, but the cost of infrastructure might not offset the cost completely. I believe the City already purchases energy from solar installations, which are owned by companies who have installed and maintain the systems. We also may have City owned installations on buildings, but I’m not sure. If a location is found that is suitable, I would agree that generating electricity through alternative renewable sources is the way to go.

  8. Ryan Kelly

    It looks like Gas & Electric bills will be changing to look more like our bills for water – a set charge for infrastructure and then tiers. Article from SF Chronicle: Sweeping Changes Sought for Electricity Bills

    Low-end users will see their electric bills rise and high-end users will see a drop.

    It would be good to see how rates would be for the POU, if the same billing model was adopted.

  9. J.R.

    It seems to me that there is something that smells of corruption about taking money from the wastewater fund and using it for a POU study. When private companies do things like that people go to jail. Why is it okay for the city to do this. It seems like a misuse of funds. Shouldn’t wastewater funds be used for wastewater? What am I missing?

  10. growth issue

    If you’re against new taxes what better gift could the city have given you than crying about being $5.1 million in the hole and at the same time paying $1 million for a study of a pet project.

    1. Matt Williams

      G.I., based on your knowledge of municipal accounting regulations, do you believe that the accounting for the delivery of electrical power will be within the General Fund?

    1. growth issue

      I’m for the city being financially responsible with our tax money and live within its means just like I have to budget my house and life and live within my means.

        1. growth issue

          Yes I’ve taken out a loan, as a matter of fact I still owe on my house which I budgeted for and am keeping up with the payments. But I didn’t do an expensive addition, buy two new cars, a boat and hire a $150,000/yr. gardner who can retire at age 55 with 90% of his salary and full medical.

          If we keep enabling bad behavior by the city and bail them out everytime they overspend this will never get fixed.

          1. David Greenwald

            Neither has the city. The city has cut $11 million from the budget over the last five years, and has paid for all new projects over that time. The city sees a way to save additional money. It’s like arguing that because you have a mortgage and student loans to pay off that someone shouldn’t invest in storm windows that would reduce energy consumption.

          2. SouthofDavis

            David wrote:

            > It’s like arguing that because you have a mortgage
            > and student loans to pay off that someone shouldn’t
            > invest in storm windows that would reduce energy
            > consumption.

            The ONLY time anyone should borrow money is when they get a positive return on their investment. If I borrow $1,000 to replace bad old wood windows and save $100 a month on PG&E that is a good investment, but if I borrow $1,000 to landscape my back yard that is a bad investment. I am fine if the city borrows money to dig an undercrossing under the tracks to develop Nishi (and bring in a lot more tax money) but I don’t think the city should borrow money to give raises to current employees or put new carpet in city hall.

          3. David Greenwald

            “I don’t think the city should borrow money to give raises to current employees or put new carpet in city hall.”

            Agreed. But that’s not what we’re talking about, are we?

          4. growth issue

            Neither has the city what? Maybe the city has cut $11 million, but they overspent way more than that. That’s like me selling those two new cars but I still owe for the addition on my house and the gardner that I couldn’t affrord.

            Can I go to my neighbors and now expect them to pay for my overspending?

          5. David Greenwald

            Davis is asking its residents not Woodland to pay for the overspending that its residents allowed to occur for well over a decade.

          6. growth issue

            So let’s blame it on the residents? That’s a total copout. Here we now have many residents screaming WTF are they doing spending $1 million on a POU when we’re so much in debt? Where has that gotten us residents David?

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