Letter: No Confidence in the Council

By Elaine Roberts Musser

I was appalled with City Council’s response to the apprehension many expressed at the City Council meeting on June 4 about the proposed midterm city budget and 1% sales tax increase. Concerned citizens were gaslighted, accused of seeking revenge for the commission mergers and engaging in hyperbole. (Gaslighting in this context is manipulating citizens into questioning their own perception of reality to avoid accountability for questionable behavior.)

The fact of the matter is we only pointed out things the Finance & Budget Commission would’ve zeroed in on, were it still in existence (but hasn’t been for almost a year). But as we know, the current City Council (minus Councilmember Neville) voted to eliminate this commission in favor of a more generic Fiscal Commission that has not yet met, now manned with new commissioners who are mostly commission inexperienced.

Here are the problems we highlighted:

*No city audit in three years;

*A general fund reserve of 7.5%, half the 15% it should be;

*One time gimmicks/delays: suspension of paying down $42 million in unfunded liability of employee healthcare benefits; reduction of $1.5 million originally intended for pavement management;

*A 1% sales tax increase, to offset general fund reserves and to pay for additional services/programs. What new services/programs is purposely vague.

In other words, the City Council wants us to approve a 1% sales tax increase, in essence a blank check with virtually no accountability, insisting we trust them to make responsible decisions. Their conduct has hardly inspired confidence!

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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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13 Comments

  1. Alan Pryor

    We have never had a Council who took such pains to publicly disparage the citizens who dare to criticize them – and this from a Coucil who touts how liberal and inclusive they are. It speaks volumes of their integrity and trustworthiness.

     

     

      1. Alan Pryor

        Oh I remember the Saylor-Souza due well and was tempted to reference them for comparison. But I still think the current Council is winning the race to the bottom. And, in either event, it does not instill confidence in the current Council when you see them resort to those tactics to justify their actions.

        1. Colin Walsh

          Alan is right. It wasn’t just on the tax measure. Some members of the Council regularly insult and otherwise discount members of the public who dare to speak up with a counter viewpoint.

  2. Colin Walsh

    Before the council votes to raise sales tax and further disadvantage local businesses, the City needs to ask UCD to help fund the affordable housing trust fund. It is UCD that has had the outsized impact on the housing market, and UCD can afford to help fund affordable housing in the Davis community. UCD employees and students will benefit greatly from such funding.

    Last week the council refused to even consider asking UCD to help fund the affordable housing trust fund and instead are going to ask the rest of us to pay a increased sales tax.

    I mean, really? You wont even ask?

    1. Walter Shwe

      How about we ask every Davis employer that happens to have employees living within city limits to contribute to such a fund including Sutter, UC Davis Health, Dignity Health, DMG MORI, DigiStream and AgraQuest? Your notion is absurd Colin.

      1. Matt Williams

        Walter, there is a huge difference between UC Davis and the employers that you list

        Sutter does not receive direct revenue from any of its employees
        UC Davis Health does not receive direct revenue from any of its employees
        Dignity Health does not receive direct revenue from any of its employees,
        DMG MORI does not receive direct revenue from any of its employees,
        DigiStream does not receive direct revenue from any of its employees
        AgraQuest does not receive direct revenue from any of its employees.

        UC Davis receives direct revenue from its students, and even more revenue as a result of having students.

        1. Walter Shwe

          Colin said:
          Last week the council refused to even consider asking UCD to help fund the affordable housing trust fund …

          Matt said:
          UC Davis receives direct revenue from its students, and even more revenue as a result of having students. 

          Every university derives funding from their students. Does every university in turn contribute to an affordable housing trust fund? Does any university do any thing of the sort unless they are using grant money? I did find 1 related example in California. In this instance California public universities and colleges were granted one-time money for student housing by the Legislature. Where does UCD find the money? By increasing tuition, laying off employees, increasing class sizes, cutting enrollment?

          How much student housing does $1.4 billion buy?

          IN SUMMARY
          State lawmakers are giving public colleges and universities $1.4 billion this year to build or renovate affordable dorms for students. The 25 projects across California range in size and price but are expected to make space for 7,300 students.

          https://calmatters.org/education/higher-education/2022/07/student-housing-affordable-dorms/

        2. Matt Williams

          Walter, your question is loaded and very narrow, but the answer to that question is pretty simple.  As reported here in the Vanguard (see LINK), both UC Berkeley and UC Santa Cruz have agreements with their respective cities.  Then FBC member and later Council member Dan Carson provided to the FBC in January 2017 a full written analysis and much more detailed information on the Berkeley and Santa Cruz agreements which can be found on the City of Davis website page for FBC.

          How the Cities of Berkeley and Santa Cruz use their annual payment from their respective UCs is at their discretion.  They may not even have a Housing Trust Fund.  The City of Davis, if it were to come to a similar agreement with UCD would also have discretion about how it uses the money from any agreed to annual payment. It could go into the Housing Trust fund or not … Council would decide that.

      2. Matt Williams

        Walter,

        Does Sutter expect Davis to provide housing for its patients?
        Does UC Davis Health expect Davis to provide housing for its patients?
        Does Dignity Health expect Davis to provide housing for its patients?
        Does DMG MORI expect Davis to provide housing for the people who purchase its machines?
        Does DigiStream expect Davis to provide housing for the people who purchase its surveillance technology?
        Does AgraQuest expect Davis to provide housing for the people who purchase its pesticides?

        The answer to all those questions is “No.”

        Does UC Davis expect Davis to provide housing for its students?

        The answer to that question is “Yes.”

        1. Don Shor

          Does UC Davis expect Davis to provide housing for its students?

          No. It was just the historical norm. When I was a student in the 1970s most freshmen sought housing in town for their sophomore year. It was well understood that you needed to have a place lined up by April.
          The demand that UCD house more students on campus is a relatively new phenomenon.

          1. David Greenwald

            I am reminded of the conversation I had with Jim Gray and Dave Nystrom when the mixed use project came forward…

            Dave Nystrom, the project manager, told the Vanguard “one of the challenges (businesses in the park) face is hiring people because it’s so difficult to find housing in Davis. People I think have an expectation that if they’re going to work in Davis, they’re going to live in Dixon or Woodland or West Sacramento because the housing market is just so tight.”

            Housing market IS a factor in who decides to locate in Davis.

            Moreover, the analogy between the companies listed and a university is imperfect. For example, take Sutter, it serves an existing population whereas a university imports a large number of folks to attend school who do not live here. It probably helps to think of students more as employees in this perspective rather than customers.

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