San Luis Obispo residents facing tax fatigue

September 18, 2014
Dan Carpenter

Dan Carpenter

OPINION By SLO COUNCILMAN DAN CARPENTER

On Nov. 4, San Luis Obispo voters will be voting on three local tax/bond measures. A new ½ percent city sales tax (Measure G), a $177 million San Luis Coastal Unified School District bond, and a $275 million Cuesta College bond. No sooner than the economy starts to recover from the recession, each one of these public entities is eager to solicit your resources to support their needs.

Measure G, the new ½ percent sales tax is unnecessary when you consider the addiction to revenue our city has.

The marketing narrative from City Hall contends Measure G is an “extension” of Measure Y instead of calling it the “new tax” that it is. Misrepresenting the truth to ascertain an affirmative vote is deceitful. Nothing in the 2006 original ballot language provides an option to extend the tax when it expires in March, 2015.

In fact, “eight years only” is explicit and unequivocal. Projecting that more than 70 percent of the sales tax comes from consumers who don’t reside in the city cannot be substantiated and is speculative at best.

Fear mongering tactics such as “residents will lose services”, or “capital improvement projects will be diminished” are acts of coercion. An impartial audit done this past spring confirms categorically that spending on capital improvement projects has remained constant the past 15 years, while staffing costs have escalated at an alarming rate consuming the lion’s share of the additional revenue. Proponents should cease with the deceptive portraiture as it continues to insult the integrity of the informed voter.

San Luis Coastal Unified School District is the victim of poor leadership in Sacramento as our state legislature continues to deprioritize spending on public education. How is that California now ranks 49th in the nation in per-student spending on K-12 when Californians pay some of the highest taxes in the country? Our state leaders continue to lose sight of their commitment to quality education by fraudulently mismanaging and squandering our precious resources, hence thrusting the unfair burden onto the backs of our local economies.

Cuesta College is asking district taxpayers to open their wallets to the tune of a $275 million bond for facility repairs and upgrades. Based on my research, the facts simply don’t support the timing of this ask. Overall enrollment has dropped 30 percent during the last four years as have completion rates at both North County and San Luis Obispo campuses.

Course offerings in technical and vocational fields have been eliminated with more concentration on transferable courses to four year universities. A steady growth in students are coming from outside the district to attend Cuesta because of its high transfer rate to Cal Poly and the students do not pay any additional tuition or fees. Only half of all students achieve their goal of a degree, certificate, or transfer to a four year university, and they do so in six years.

The current facilities appear underutilized, underscoring the need for a comprehensive feasibility study to assess the potential for consolidating North County and San Luis Obispo campuses into one location.
Administrative operations should be evaluated when considering the merits of this facilities bond. Over half the district’s full time faculty are paid in excess of $100,000 a year total compensation (more than Cal Poly faculty with PhD’s) while the overall number of classes offered has dropped.

The recent summer session was thrown together, not as a result of long-term planning, but as a relatively last minute effort to garner students to prevent a loss in revenue from the state. Not a good master plan for ongoing sustainable funding and meeting the district’s standard for quality education and student success.

Cuesta recently emerged from the sanctions of accreditation and has spent $120,000 in their bond feasibility preparation and the Foundation has committed another $65,000 to market this bond to the taxpayers. Is this too soon to be asking for an investment of this size when the future of the college was uncertain earlier this year? You’ll have to decide.

The average SLO resident is not only facing these local tax/bond measures in November but also facing higher sewer and water rates, rising utility cost, higher gas taxes, higher personal income tax, raising health care cost, food, transportation and other necessities. How will these measures impact working families, fixed income seniors, students with debt, and the working poor? Property tax bonds in the City of SLO are inherently regressive. With 2/3 of the residences now non-owner occupied, landlords are inclined to pass on any property tax increases directly to their tenants.

As your elected leaders we should be setting an example of sound fiscal oversight. It’s simply a bad time to ask SLO residents to open their wallets. It’s time for all agencies to tighten their belts and live within their means just as our residents have been throughout the recovery.


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Rambunctious

In January all Californians will be paying an additional gas tax of .70 cents per gallon of gas. This is not a national fuel tax. It’s wrapped up in a bow just for us so we here in the golden state can take the lead in saving the planet. All cities and municipalities in our state are desperate for cash. This state under Governor Brown has floundered and so as the old adage goes…stuff rolls down hill.


Your city is strapped; for whatever reason they need more of your money. The same thing is going on everywhere.


Only the voters have the capability of realling this in.


If you vote for BIG spenders the will spend BIG!


OnTheOtherHand

It is interesting that California does not tax oil as it is extracted the way other states — even Texas — do. If they need to increase tax revenues from gas, do it at the source so that the costs are borne by all users, not just those that happen to buy gas within the state. (The pricing of oil is not done state by state, but by variations in the international markets and the whims of a few powerful players in the industry.)


Willow

OnTheOtherHand – While the base pricing of oil is not done by the state but by multinationals, the point Rambuctious was making was about the STATE TAX. The STATE is imposing a .70/gallon TAX ON TOP OF what the multinationals have made the base price of oil, as well as ON TOP OF the taxes already imposed on top of the base price of oil.


One of California’s best kept secrets is that your Governor Brown is an oil baron himself! His dad ‘fixed’ it so that no competition could come in with new refineries. Read the following from the Washington Times, 4/16/2010, to understand how deceptive your elected demi-gods really are, and how the public is incessantly duped by their media ploys:


From the Washington Times:


When Jerry Brown recently held his first fundraiser as an official candidate for governor, he chose as the venue the Sacramento apartment where he lived the last time he held that office, after famously declining to live in the governor’s mansion. Faced with multimillionaire Republican opponents, Mr. Brown wants to be seen as just a regular public employee, trying to hold his own against tycoons at the top of America’s wealth disparity. While politically expedient, the image of Jerry Brown as everyman is patently false.


Mr. Brown has a lot of money – how much exactly is not public – and unhappily for his environmentalist and global-warming-alarmist supporters, it’s oil money. Even more unhappily for his campaign managers, it’s money that may have led him to an attack against California’s largest employer and a rewriting of state regulations to feather the family nest.


Sacramento Bee political columnist Dan Walters spent months researching the source of the Brown family wealth 30 years ago and recently shared the story with me in his small office crowded with family pictures, catty-cornered from the Capitol.


In a nutshell: After Jerry’s father, Pat, left the governorship in 1967, he was introduced to the Indonesian generals who had just overthrown the country’s post-colonial dictator, Sukarno, and set up a military junta. The former governor was able to cobble together a consortium of banks that lent $12 billion to the junta – “a lot of money in the late ‘60s,” Mr. Walters said. The banks were interested in the immense Royal Dutch Shell petroleum holdings in Indonesia, which Sukarno had nationalized and the junta controlled.


The grateful generals then set up two trading firms – one in Hong Kong and one in California – that handled the oil-exporting paperwork and were rewarded with a fee for each barrel, “a little taste, as they might say in the Mafia,” Mr. Walters said with a grin. Pat Brown was given 100 percent ownership of the California brokerage and half-ownership of the Hong Kong office. The deal was a very lucrative one because California’s early clean-air standards set a sulfur limit for the fuel burned in power plants – a limit only the clean, low-sulfur oil from Indonesia could meet.


Jerry Brown, alone among the Brown children, didn’t get a share of the business, but that changed after Alaskan oil came on the scene and threatened the monopoly Indonesian oil had in California’s power plants.


Chevron had just finished building a refinery in El Segundo that was designed to process Alaskan crude to compete against Indonesian oil for the California power-plant market. Before the facility could refine a barrel of North Slope crude, however, Jerry Brown’s Air Resources Board – headed up by his former campaign manager, Tom Quinn – passed a new air-quality standard for sulfur just barely too high for Chevron to meet with Alaskan oil. That cemented the Indonesian monopoly, and the Brown family, as the only oil provider to the California power industry.


Not surprisingly, when Jerry Brown left the governorship, Pat Brown finally gave him his own cut of the family oil business.


“To this day, Jerry’s very sensitive about it,” Mr. Walters told me. “He just hates the idea that people will bring it up because what it is, is the Brown family is in partnership with these corrupt, murderous dictators. It’s not something that a Jerry Brown wants to be associated with.”


The junta generals of Pat Brown’s day have given way to the more transparent, democratic government that rules in Indonesia today. The question here in California is: Will Jerry Brown also become more transparent and share with voters the details of this foreign influence on his personal finances?


http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2010/apr/16/jerry-brown-oil-baron/


End of Washington Times article.


SamLouis

Thank you for advocating on our behalf, Councilman Carpenter. I sure with your colleagues on the SLO City Council would also try doing so for a change.


The fat-cat special interests behind “Yes on G” are disgusting. Their “Keep SLO Great” message is an out and out lie. SLO has remained “great” (for the most part) DESPITE the maneuverings of such people.


A jumble of big box stores on LOVR and a boatload of just plain insipid signage downtown is not what made SLO “great.” Nor is spending something like $700K to upgrade the lighting on a block or two of Higuera.


The Cuesta and local high schools bonds would be laughable if they were not so potentially destructive. A huge NO to all three!


Hang in there, Councilman Carpenter.


Sincerely;


An actual SLO City resident


slosheepdog

“Misrepresenting the truth to ascertain an affirmative vote is deceitful”


WOW! As if that isn’t the pot calling the kettle an addict. You are so concerned with employee salary and pension issues that you voted yes in 2013 to increase the City Attorney salary to 168K per year. And while you did vote no on another salary increase for the City Attorney in May of 2014, you reasoned that it would be used against the city by the unions if you voted to increase her salary to the 175K it is today. At the very same meeting in May of this year you voted no on your own 20% salary and other compensation increase when the public was watching, the very next day when the public wasn’t watching you asked the city for the increase that passed the previous night. You have subsequently received said increase, and based on clear documentation have received several.


(council agenda C-11 from 6-17-14)

On January 4, 2011, Council adopted Resolution No. 10241 (2011 Series) approving the requested compensation reduction for Council Member Carpenter to $8,600. On October 18, 2011, Council adopted Resolution No. 10307 (2011 Series) approving the salary modification for Council Member Carpenter to $10,200. On December 6, 2012, following the re-election of Council Member Carpenter a Personnel Action (PA) form was processed by Human Resources Department increasing compensation to $10,660. On May 21, 2014, Council Member Carpenter requested that his compensation be restored to the full entitled amount of $12,000, effective January 1, 2014 (Attachment 2). A resolution modifying Council Member Carpenter’s compensation is presented for City Council consideration (Attachment 3).


When the public is watching you pretend to be the watchdog of public money but when their back is turned you raid the bank. You apparently had no issue with the fact that only one local city was in the City Council compensation study but were very concerned that the compensation study for line level employees didn’t contain more local comparisons. In fact you are paid twice the salary of the only local comparison in the study and get many other forms of compensation such as city department head level medical insurance and the option to opt out and take the cash. You get city paid internet at home, a city paid cell phone, and up to $2900 per year in reimbursements for expenses. You have a city paid life insurance policy of 104K which far exceeds that of even the fire fighters and cops. Perhaps its consistent with the dangers you face as a council member. Lets also not forget the PERS retirement.


You are quick to vilify the line level city worker and the unions but used the union support of the fire fighters and police to campaign for you after you gained their support by lying to them during the candidate interviews.


You increased the compensation of the second highest paid management employee of the city while the line was taking cuts. You requested the increase to your own salary and compensation by over 20% on May 21st 2014, which was retroactive to January 2014. You sir, are a typical hypocrite politician who talks out of both ends. You “insult the integrity” of those who are actually paying attention.


We do actually agree on one point though, NO ON G!


Dan Carp

Wow….you sound like a disgruntled city firefighter I know. At least I have the integrity to put my name on my comments.


Yes, the first three years I took less salary than allowed by policy. Have you ever declined the full salary you were allowed? I didn’t think so. This year I brought my salary up to the full amount (approved in a public hearing – NO hiding) because my “part-time” position as councilmember has become more than a full-time position. I think most people would agree that $12,000 a year for a full-time councilmember is quite a deal.


Firefighters and police did campaign for me in 2008. Did you forget that I came in 4th place with your support and was not elected. In 2012, WITHOUT your support I garnered more votes than either of your supported candidates. Speaks volumes doesn’t it?


The one time I voted to bump the City Attorney’s pay was to take her OFF the automatic step-in-grade increases that you and most employees enjoy. She, unlike you now gets raises based on her actual performance and not simply by putting in the time. What a novel idea lining up with those in the private sector. We took something away and gave her back something. It was a net zero. It would help if you disclosed the truth.


You conveniently left out the fact that I’ve NEVER taken the city’s medical insurance plan, and from day one opted out of CalPERS retirement. Have you declined medical insurance or opted out of CalPERS? I didn’t think so.


I understand it’s difficult for you to get over the fact that you lost Measures A & B……you need to accept that the public didn’t want an outside arbitrator making decisions on how we allocate our resources. The voters spoke to this overwhelmingly.


Like you, I”m glad we can find common ground on opposing Measure G.


wineguyjc

Dan,


All slosheepdog did was point out the truth. I guess when you find yourself under a microscope it is uncomfortable, when others are scrutinizing your actions and your true commitment to those actions. I am glad you oppose Measure G and support you on that. However, the council along with top management during the past decade has vilified employees with the sole purpose of increasing salaries at the top. Your organization routinely protects misconduct, you engage as a council in brown act violations left and right. You make side deals with special developers routinely. So, simply what slosheepdog is getting at is the lack of transparency and the multiple masks you wear. Dan, simply figure out if you represent the people or if you are another crony looking out for your self interests or the self interest of your special friends?


slosheepdog, glad you are speaking up again. By the way, lets not forget the special treatment of the mayors drunken daughter.


Dan Carp

wineguyjc,


I think you can see that he was not truthful about the benefits I receive. And what’s truthful or credible about hiding behind an alias name? Maybe you can answer that as well? By the way, I have no interest in increasing salaries at the top (in fact I opposed the 6.8% across the board concessions last round). I stated publicly it was not fair for the rank and file staff to absorb the same % as management. Check the record.


I have no self interest, no side deals with special developers….just a lifetime of living in SLO (60 years) and looking out for the best interest of the people I serve. Stay tuned my fellow opposer of Measure G!


slosheepdog

Let’s first and foremost clear the air on if I’m a “disgruntled city firefighter”. I’m not, so let not have them be on the focus of your or SLO city managements retaliation campaign. As to the integrity of posting without a name, its a hollow argument, the truth is the truth, even if i choose to remain nameless.Lets just say for the sake of argument that I work a job where managers similar to those in SLO, where you continue to support your city manager, who reigns over a corrupt and retaliatory team of department heads. One such city where many of the department heads have turned over multiple times under the corrupt and retaliatory reign of terror of a city manager and city attorney who you continue to support by renewing their annual contract. Why then would I reveal my name and subject myself to retaliation and reprisal, perhaps thats why its seems such a hot button with you as not knowing where to direct the attacks.


As to your questions “Have you ever declined the full salary you were allowed?” the answer is YES. In fact many of the city employee groups on a repeated basis, for years at the request of your predecessors waived contractual salary increases, gave concessions, paid more for retirement than required. All at the same time your predecessors hid the ball with regard to the city fiscal health. You all seem to conveniently forget that all of the city employees have gone years without any form of compensation increase and in fact have taken concessions equal to 7.5% of salary. When I say all of course I don’t include the two employees who are under the direct control of city council, the city manager and city attorney, the latter of which has received two consecutive years of some where in the neighborhood of 4% salary per year. The salary of course also drives pension and other compensation.


And what is the truth on the city attorney issue Dan? I’m dying to know. Took something away and gave her back something? Are you referring to the 6.8 reduction in total comp she took with the other employees by paying her share of her pension? So I assume you are prepared under this methodology to give back 6.8% to all the other union represented groups. fair is fair right? Net zero. But lets be truthful and stop the hypocrisy Dan, the top managers continue to increase and the line level get vilified for the fiscal woes of the city.


I did not conveniently leave out the fact that you have never taken health insurance from the city, thats not my business, nor do I care. The fact is if you haven’t or currently don’t take it, the benefit is even greater from the recent council compensation study increase. You get the cash opt out for the plan you were not taking. Are you not taking the cash opt out Dan?


The simple fact is that voting against the increase and the next day asking to get the increase your colleagues voted on wreaks of hypocritical politics. Fact is you got a 20% plus compensation increase this year. As to the PERS, why don’t you take it Dan? Retired perhaps from job at the cal poly book store with a fully funded medical plan and pension?


And finally lets address your view of the union support and the impact on your political career. I take from your comments that you certainly feel that your support from the firefighters and police adversely impacted you run for office. Makes perfect sense to distance yourself from the union thugs. That is another area where perhaps we may find common ground. You see I have this idea brewing, and with a influential political figure with fiscal concerns at the forefront, maybe you can run this up in front of council for me.


I have this idea that maybe council could get behind, something like a SHOP ELSEWHERE campaign. Lets tell all those union employees from the city, the union Correctional Officers at CMC, the union Cal Trans employees, the County Government employees, and all the other union supported workers that we don’t want their dirty union money spent here in SLO. SHOP ELSEWHERE, we don’t need the fruits of your unsustainable salaries and pensions here in SLO. After all the local business and chamber of commerce get all the funding they need from the inside city deals. Think you might be willing to run that up in front of council for me Dan?


As to A&B, no one has gotten over it Dan. It hasn’t gone away, in fact it’s another fumble of your highly paid city attorney which will ultimately make some spectacular case law on behalf of the unions and the city conducting and unfair labor practice.


I say you are on the right track Dan, keep driving compensation down for the line level workers, keep bumping the pay of top management, and push for council to be paid a living wage which already has the support of the majority of council. Keep hiring those new employees to replace the ones who leave under the the oppressive management, they too will be disgruntled soon enough.


The apple rots from the inside and here in SLO it begins at the top.


Kevin Rice

Anyone anonymously claiming to post truth while also throwing stones is full of shit AND a coward.


wineguyjc

Kevin,


Coming from a self proclaimed politician who can’t even get elected means so little.


Back to the issue at hand. Councilmen Carpenter has participated in this hypocrisy left and right. He continues to spew the partial truths. Here is a fact, the rank and file, in particular the water department staff at SLO are the highest paid in the county. These individuals make more than an MD working as an intern. All one needs to work in the water dept, is to fill out an application, a GED and for that in a couple of years you make $70k reading meters. Top that off with all the unveiled graft and corruption that has been going on at the City over the past decade then tax payers should be disgusted. What is Councilman Carpenter’s position on the employee who was revealed on this website for having misappropriated city assets for personal gain – a batwing mower. What is councilman carpenters position on the employees who intentionally dumped hazardous materials at a city facility? What are councilman carpenter’s views of the employee who told fellow employees “to go “F” themselves” on facebook on city time, using a city computer? For that matter what is councilman carpenter’s position on the idiot supervisor in parking who gave that same employee and like and thumbs up for posting religiously based hate comments on a public forum? What is councilman carpenter’s position on the City employee who pushed a staffer up against the wall just recently at work? Does the council condone or just cover up this misconduct. Lastly, what is councilman carpenter’s position on the former employee who grew pot at a city facility – oh and the current city employee who is doing the same right now? Dan, how about you answer why the city continuously retains staff that have committed acts violating fellow employees religious beliefs, stolen city property, assaulted fellow staff members on city time, recklessly made decisions that cost the city millions, staff that spend city time working out, going to the movies, driving to lake lopez to go fishing, using a city vehicle to tow their personal boat to the lake? How about answering these questions to start.


mkaney

There are union issues involved with a lot of the things you brought up. If anything, all of the things you listed should make you more likely to be unsupportive of the city’s effort to steal more money.


mkaney

And by the way… you should consider that at least Mr Carpenter is willing to actually respond to these posts and probably will address your questions, unlike every other elected official in this county.


Willow

Kevin Rice – just because somebody posts something anonymously doesn’t mean that what they are saying is false or that they are full of shit, or that they are a coward. That’s a really ignorant statement to make. In fact, all levels of law enforcement have venues for people to make anonymous reports of illegal activities – they’re called ‘whistleblowers’. Without them, you, and the rest of us would be in ever bigger doodoo than what we are now. I thank God for whistleblowers, and if they feel the need for the protection of anonymity, that’s their call, not yours. There’s countless people who have been murdered by government agents both in this country and around the world because of what they know and inform others of. For you to make light of that reality and call people who understand that such things, or other forms of retaliation happen, ‘coward’ is ignorance on your part.


You don’t have to know everything about everybody in this town. Get off you high horse and realize we’re all in this together.


mkaney

“you raid the bank” – REALLY? You just outlined his meager compensation and describe $12k as raiding the bank? You continue to be totally ridiculous. All of that typing and you ultimately said NOTHING.


isoslo

Since most tax revenue is a percentage of something taxes have been and will always go up. The biggest problem our middle class faces is an ever decreasing amount of disposable income. The reason we have less and less is the government is taking more and more as a percentage. We have to stop the government from continuing to grow and the only way to do that is to just say no to all new taxes. Like the majority of the populace the government needs to live within it’s means and stop trying to get more and provide less.


JUST SAY NO TO ADDITIONAL TAXES!!!!


falconbh

New Fair Deal


I see this Tax Increase Fatigue in a much broader context.


With a fading middle class tax base, wages going down, seniors on fixed incomes, a growing working poor population, and many students starting off with higher debts.


These multiple New Tax Increases and Automatic Rate Increases have left residents with no options.


Next, we have the high priced Outside Consultants, with the well funded Unions and Developers starting a campaign against Taxpayers. Stealth in nature, using scare propaganda, confusion, and deception as their real platform.

Soon the strategic flyers will be in our mailboxes to game the system and voters.

It will only ” Cost The Price Of a ???”. The only problem is when you add up all these little taxes, fees, automatic rate increases, or rent increases, you find one Big Tax Burden !


You will be made to feel that it is your civic duty or you are just a cheap.


The Old Playbook is out of date. The Voters cannot afford all these New Tax Increases and Automatic Rate Increases.


ml1999

$275 Million is a lot of clams! Have we been provided with a list (link) of where this money will be going?


Is it time to consider merging the two campuses, and selling off the unused location?


$100,000 a year is a lot of money for the central coast, that’s more than many professors make at the University of California!


Will these dollars go to prop up Cadillac pensions for public employees?


As far as school funding, California passed a law which requires at least 45 percent of state funds to go specifically to education. (Props 98 and 111.) Where is all of this money going, roughly $50 Billion per year, plus additional federal monies from various pots. Don’t forget the heavy strain we have educating children here illegally from poor countries, many who don’t know English, and many don’t even formally know their native tongue.


agag1

I wouldn’t vote to give the current leadership in SLO one more dime of taxpayer $$$.

Typical government, always has one hand out, the other in your back pocket.

The more you give them, the more they NEED, just to maintain they claim. Maintain their salaries that make most of the rest of us look like the working poor we are.


Rich in MB

Government ALWAYS needs more money, no matter how much we give the beast, it wants more. The only way to eliminate waste and the size of Government is to deny it the funds it needs. They won’t stop sending management on junkets. They won’t stop the out of control pensions and pay. They won’t stop the out of control spending until we turn off the money flow.


Oh sure…they will cry and threaten to cut fire/police, that is their playbook. But we are taxed enough. We will not pay more in taxes to fund an out of control Government that treats the tax payers are surfs.


kayaknut

New taxes, No, No, and No……