Ballot Arguments Submitted on Sales Tax

sales-tax-receiptFriday was the filing deadline for the ballot initiatives.  The major races that the Vanguard is covering are all extended until Wednesday because there is no incumbent filing for one of the city council seats, the Yolo County Superior Court Judge seat, the Yolo County Superintendent of Schools, and the State Assembly.

The sales tax is now known as Measure O and the water initiative is Measure P.  The Vanguard is publishing the ballot arguments for and against on both, plus Ernie Head’s argument for the water initiative that is not official.   Here are the ballot arguments for and against Measure O, which is supported by the entire city council and opposed by Ernie Head, as well as Jose Granda and Thomas Randall, who have opposed all of the school parcel taxes.

Argument in Favor of Measure O

The argument in favor of Measure O was filed by the entire Davis City Council: Mayor Joe Krovoza, Mayor Pro Tem Dan Wolk, Council Members Lucas Frerichs, Brett Lee and Rochelle Swanson.

Measure O proposes to increase our community’s sales tax to 8.5 percent until 2020. This represents a one-half cent increase now, and will continue until 2020 an existing one-half cent tax due to expire in 2016. This modest increase in our sales tax rate will fund essential community needs that shouldn’t be delayed further, including:

• Road, sidewalk, bike path, streetlight repairs

• Parks, landscaping, street tree maintenance

Revenue from this sales tax increase will provide $3.6 million per year toward our current $5.1 million structural budget deficit. With passage, Davis must still cut $1.5 million to balance its 2014-15 budget. Without this measure’s approval, basic services (including police, fire, parks, recreation) will suffer severe cuts, up to 12.5 percent. Davis will become a less safe and less pleasant place to live.

The City Council has recently restructured labor contracts for major cost savings and long-term fiscal sustainability, with employees paying significantly more toward their retirement. Davis has decreased its workforce by 22 percent, or 103 full-time employees.

The longer Davis defers major road repairs, parks maintenance, and water conservation projects, the costlier they become. Davis is aggressively moving forward with economic development to generate additional tax revenue as a longer-term solution to the city’s budget challenges.

Many cities have implemented similar local sales tax measures: Sacramento’s sales tax is 8.5 percent; San Francisco and Berkeley have higher rates. The economic recession has resulted in major declines in local tax revenue. Also, the state’s ongoing shift of responsibilities to local governments, concurrent with shifting property tax revenues away from cities, makes it crucial to increase local funding for core city functions through sales tax.

Please help us protect the quality of life we all enjoy. Please vote “Yes” on Measure O.

For more information: www.YesonO.net

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Argument Opposed to Measure O

The argument against Measure O was filed by Janet Zwahley, John Smith, Ernie Head, Thomas Randall, Jr., and Jose Granda.

Not Another Unjustified Tax, No on Measure “O”

The Davis City Council has failed to explain why the taxpayers should pay for their mismanagement of $5.1 million of taxpayer’s money. They needed to explain their spending habits and why they need you to pay the deficit they created.

Why should you approve an increase in sales tax bringing it to 8.5% and lasting until 2020 for “general government purposes”? Measures passed in 2004 and 2010 are still in force. Why are they not enough?

They have publicly expressed their plan for an increase in Sales Tax in June and a new Parcel tax in the November election. So brace yourself, if you vote yes on Measure O on June 3, expect an increase in your mortgage by means of a Parcel Tax in November if that goes through.

It is time to say NO MORE to these politicians. They treat Davis voters as an ATM machine where there is money available every time they run the budget in the red. If you vote yes to raise the sales tax, you are voting for them to spend more money and inviting them to charge you more taxes.

The recent fiasco with the City Manager is an example; paying him a salary of $188,000. He left Davis for another City that pays him $13,000 less and now the Council has postponed setting up the salary of the new one pending the result of this election. Not difficult to guess where your money is going.

Water rates could triple also pending the result of this election, creating additional economic hardship. The same City Council responsible for those water rates is asking you to pay the $5.1 million deficit they created. More information at: www.noparceltaxes.org

About The Author

Disclaimer: the views expressed by guest writers are strictly those of the author and may not reflect the views of the Vanguard, its editor, or its editorial board.

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20 Comments

  1. Tia Will

    “Not Another Unjustified Tax”

    I would completely agree with this statement if there were any truth in it. The problem is with that one word,
    “unjustified”. I see this tax as fully justified.

    If the town”s infrastructure was all in premium condition, if all of our streets, bike paths, greenbelts, parks and recreational facilities were up to acceptable standards, Sadly, this is far from the case.
    So unless the promoters of NO of O can come up with another means of filling in the deficit funding to maintain the amenities that are there for all the public to enjoy, then I strongly object to the word “unjustified” and urge those who value the Davis lifestyle that we all enjoy to step up and support Measure O as a fair way of all pitching in to support our city.

    1. J.R.

      You’re confusing opinion and fact.

      Saying something is justified or unjustified is a matter of opinion. It’s not a matter of being true or not, as you claim.

      You seem to think that an opinion contrary to yours fails to be true.

      Our city greatly benefits from a diversity of opinion, and without that diversity nobody would be aware of the fiscal mismanagement that has come to light.

    2. SouthofDavis

      Tia wrote:

      > I would completely agree with this statement if there were
      > any truth in it. The problem is with that one word,
      > “unjustified”. I see this tax as fully justified.

      If EVERY city employee made over $100K (and could retire at 50) would you still see the tax as “fully justified”?

      > So unless the promoters of NO of O can come up with another
      > means of filling in the deficit funding to maintain the amenities
      > that are there for all the public to enjoy,

      I don’t want to speak for the No on O people, but I don’t think that even a single firefighter will leave if their pay is cut. Where else (but another fire station that has 100+ people going after every open job) can you make over $100K working 10-12 days a month. When “most” of the people that work “for” the taxpayers make far more (and have FAR FAR better benefits) than “most” of the taxpayers (who else gets CASH every month for not using the health care?) most people want to start cutting before you ask them to pay more and more (especially when the people asking for more money tell us that water rates are going to triple soon)…

      1. Tia Will

        South of Davis

        “If EVERY city employee made over $100K (and could retire at 50) would you still see the tax as “fully justified”?”

        This question is irrelevant since it bears no resemblance to reality. This is not what we are facing. I do not believe that the way we choose to value work is in any way equitable, but this is the system we have. Given that we as a society have decided to value some individuals work over that of others, I honestly feel that there is a fair amount of envy being displayed when people bash the firefighters union. I do not share the views of those who feel that employers should pay as little as they can, and workers should push for as much as they can get. And yet, this is the dominant cultural view. For anyone who holds this view and then derides the firefighters for striking the best deal they could, or who would like to promote a “race to the bottom” in wages paid, I would ask the simple question, “do you honestly believe that the firefighters are overpaid” or do you simply not want to pay them since you or others you know have chosen jobs that pay less.

        1. SouthofDavis

          Tia wrote:

          > This question is irrelevant since it bears no resemblance to reality.

          It was an easy yes or no question that I guess you don’t want to answer…

          I can’t see how to pull the numbers in Davis, but in SF and Vallejo the average public safety worker makes way over $100K and can retire at 50 with a multi-million dollar pension (only a small percentage of PhDs and MD even those with 10+ years of college can dream of retiring at 50 and making what a typical cop or firefighter gets with a GED and two years of junior college).

          > I would ask the simple question, “do you honestly believe that
          > the firefighters are overpaid”

          Yes I do…

          > or do you simply not want to pay them since you or
          > others you know have chosen jobs that pay less.

          Some of my closest friends are firefighters and it is great for me to be friends with guys that make a ton of money and have boats and cabins (and can almost always head up to ski with me mid-week). I don’t have a problem paying a little more in sales tax next year, but I don’t think it is fair to make the many people in town who are having a tough time pay more and more in taxes to move more and more of our “public servants” in to the top 1%…

          Below is some recent info from SF (that charges their poor even more in sales tax than we do):

          http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/S-F-Fire-Dept-dominates-list-of-highest-paid-5085237.php

          No less than 10,281 of the city’s roughly 28,000 employees earned at least $100,000 in total compensation in the last fiscal year. Eighty-four pulled in at least $250,000 each in total compensation, the figures show.

        2. Rich Rifkin

          SOD: “If EVERY city employee made over $100K (and could retire at 50) would you still see the tax as “fully justified”?”

          MEDIC: “This question is irrelevant since it bears no resemblance to reality. This is not what we are facing.”

          Tia, why do you think it bears no resemblance to reality?

          You may not understand the CalPERS pension system. We have two categories (for current employees) in Davis: all police and fire (save clerical staff) are on 3% at 50; everyone else is on 2.5% at 55. But even those who are on 2.5% at 55, if they have worked 5 years or more, can retire at 50 and take their pension, albeit slightly reduced. Moreover, anyone can buy “airtime” with unused sick leave and unused vacation time and retire 2 or 3 years before age 50 or 55 at a full retirement.

          As such, there is no basis at all for you to think that everyone cannot retire at age 50 (or younger). They can.

          The second question is whether every full-time employee for the City of Davis makes $100,000 or more in total compensation. I am not sure, but I will try to figure it out.

          Let’s take a “Stock Clerk,” who, at $3,632.18 a month, is one of the lowest paid positions for the City. (That is lower than entry level parks maintenance.)

          Her annual salary (assuming no overtime) is $43,586.16. Her pension funding by the City of Davis is worth $9,208.88. Her medical benefit is worth another $21,265, this year. Her OPEB is worth about $18,000. (The exact OPEB number depends on the person’s age, gender, and other factors.) Added together, her compensation is $92,060. But that is not the full cost of employing her. The City must also pay for her Medicare, life insurance, workers comp, etc. Added all together, it’s pretty close to $100,000, when you look at the lowest paid workers.

          Almost everyone else costs the taxpayers $100,000 or more, now. And when you realize that OPEB and pension funding costs are just on the cusp of blowing up (doubling in 5 years in the case of pensions), it will be very shortly when every single City of Davis employee has a total compensation north of $100,000.

          Of interest to me, it was not that long ago when the Chancellor of UC Davis, James Meyer, who had children in the Davis public schools around my age, made $50,000 per year. Most profs back then made half that or less. If you account for inflation, Chancellor Meyer’s salary was less than the City is now paying (in salary) its Administrative Services Director. Notably, the cost of the ASD’s benefits are far, far more costly, even though Meyer got free housing.

          1. SouthofDavis

            Rich wrote:

            > Of interest to me, it was not that long ago when the
            > Chancellor of UC Davis, James Meyer, who had children
            > in the Davis public schools around my age, made
            > $50,000 per year.

            Rich and others may be interested that ALL my firefighter friends made more than the Governor of the State of California (and the Governor of every other state) last year…

            P.S. Anyone that thinks that giving every government employee that retires after 20 years a pension worth millions will keep working should check out the web site below:

            http://www.pensiontsunami.com/

          2. Tia Will

            The question posed to me was “What if EVERY city employee made over
            100 K….”

            Well then we would have an entirely different system of compensation than what we actually have. If this were the case, other people’s compensation would likely be different as well. I see no benefit in speculating about how I would feel about whether these salaries would be justified in this mythical system.

          3. Tia Will

            Rifs

            So is this a good thing…or a bad thing. Seems like a matter of perspective o me. For the people who are being compensated it is good. According to some other people’s opinions more money in people’s pockets is a good thing since it means more money moving into the economy as they have more for discretionary spending.
            I just do not buy into the common good guy ( the taxpayer) versus bad guy ( the public employee) mentality that seems to be prevalent in these posts. I find it more complicated than that.

          4. hpierce

            Your “air time” was valid at one point, but that door has been closed… I believe Jan 1 2013.
            those who previously bought it will not lose it, but again, that door is closed.
            Unused sick leave time is still considered as ‘time in service’. Vacation is not. Air time previously bought was at the actuarial rates at the time. It wasn’t cheap. Most who bought it did so when it was 2 % @55 for misc employees, and they ‘rolled the dice’ to buy it @ 2% rates, and hoped it would be 2.5 or 2.7 by the time they retired.

          5. Don Shor

            Meyer was UCD Chancellor from 1969 – 1987. I doubt his salary was $50,000 in 1987. So I’d say you have an interesting definition of “not that long ago.”

  2. anonymous pundit

    The City has been grossly mismanaged for decades. Giving more money for more of the same is not an answer. The deteriorating condition of the City infrastructure is a reflection of past mismanagement, not a lack of funding. There are plenty of ways out of this mess. Giving the City more money is not one of them. Until the money stops flowing, there will be no consideration of alternatives. Also, for a well managed City, the public would gladly provide more funding.

    1. Tia Will

      Anonymous pundit

      You may be correct that there are plenty of ways out of this mess. Please state what you believe they are with the pros and cons of each as you see them.

  3. growth issue

    As Rifkin so astutely pointed out:

    “Before you vote, yes or no, on the City Council’s proposal to increase the sales tax in Davis another half-cent — from 8 percent to 8.5 percent — you should know where your money is going.

    “The city figures the larger levy will generate $3.61 million per year. Most of that will go to higher compensation for its current employees and to cover unfunded expenses for retirees.”

    So what part of these new proposed taxes will go to “Road, sidewalk, bike path, streetlight repairs” and
    “parks, landscaping, street tree maintenance”? It sounds like the new tax will once again, just like the last sales tax hike, go mostly to increased employee compensation and benefits.

    1. Rich Rifkin

      None of the money will go to repair our crumbling roads, sidewalks or other infrastructure which has gone without proper maintenance. For those, the City is planning to ask for a different, new tax increase–a parcel tax in November.

      I should say that my first preference is a fuels tax to pay for the roads. But if we cannot do that–state law works against us there–my second preference is an ad valorem tax. (For an explanation of the legality of that, Google, “Prop 13 ad valorem exemption.”) An ad valorem tax is far more equitable. If we fix the roads, we will improve property values all over Davis. A $2 million property would improve (in dollar terms) far more than a $200,000 condo would. Under an ad valorem tax, the amount each property owner pays is based on the Prop 13 value of his property. The taxes raised are used to pay back a bond, which would fund road maintenance and related costs, like sidewalk repairs, bike lanes, etc.

  4. Frankly

    Of interest to me, it was not that long ago when the Chancellor of UC Davis, James Meyer, who had children in the Davis public schools around my age, made $50,000 per year. Most profs back then made half that or less.

    That is the bit that many people ignore. And others benefiting from it, want us to ignore.

    Certainly we heard back then that these public employees felt underpaid. Of interest to me is that today many say the same.

    But then we had a high quality system of higher learning back then. And it appears to be slipping down to lower rankings today.

    Paying much more for lower quality…

    This is the opposite of everything else… and why higher learning is a bubble that will soon pop.

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