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COMMENTARY: Measure W increases a tax politicians promised would end this year – so what happened?

Tax extension is a euphemism for a tax increase

According to The Free Dictionary, the definition of extension is an addition that increases … operation, or contents of something: a delay, especially one agreed by all parties, in the date originally set for payment of a debt or completion of the contract, for a publicly funded programs.

The proposed Measure W half cent sales tax extension in Hollister, for all intents and purposes and by definition, is the result of a broken promise or agreement politicians made to the voters five years ago - to set a day certain for its termination. When the Hollister City Council took action to extend the tax and not end it end as promised in 5 years (2016) however, they surreptitiously and unscrupulously are attempting to raise a permanent tax (20 years) by the use of an extension

Therefore, an extension beyond the agreed-to termination date in 2016 is a 20-year tax increase!

Aware that a conservative community such as Hollister would not accept and support an outright tax increase, the “politicians” in their unbounded foolishness offered the voters a “Trojan Horse” - a TEMPORARY five-year tax increase to pay off certain debts in the hopes that you would not notice the shift, shell game or flim-flam.

However, and according to the city’s 2016-2017 budget recently released, the city is doing quite well in that department – revenues are up. The only issue is where they would waste and/or concentrate their spending.

So the only credible explanation, at least to this writer, is that the extra revenue (a 20-year permanent tax), beyond the revenues raised by the Hollister Police Department i.e., (traffic stops at 2,223 in 2015 and parking citations issued in 2015-16) is that it will provide additional money for the council to spend untethered for so-called "public safety" programs (federally-funded), not for the public but for the protection of the police. Even though the programs may be federally-funded, we pay into it through our federal taxes portion.

Just as we have seen in the recent events in Charlotte and Tulsa, police resistance to and reluctance in allowing the public to see is unacceptable. Whereas spending in the much needed and important areas of educational and community projects (youth after-school programs, college and university scholarships, and our library) are being fiscally ignored.

So, in order for the extension to be legitimate, one of several things must have occurred:

1) the original conditions offered for the temporary tax have NOT changed or been met;
2) the conditions have been met, but the temptation is too great and the tax should continue, an extension or a permanent 20-year “increase” in wolf's clothing;
3) or, we are the recipient of a well-perpetrated misrepresentation by our politicians, in the hope that you did not/would not notice the forked-tongue promise made five years ago, that the tax was only a one-time temporary initiative. 

P.S. "Everybody Knows" by Leonard Cohen in the closing credit to the movie “War Dogs.” View and listen.

So, what say you?  

About:
Luis Burguillo (An Engaged and ...)

As a student of the media and journalism, I am interested in utilizing the medium in order to assure that the residents of the City of Hollister and San Benito County are alerted, informed and educated on the official actions of their elected officials who are sworn to preserve, protect and defend the US constitution and Bill of Rights. More importantly, their engagement in the political process will hold the leaders accountable for their actions/decisions and lead to an improved governance.

Comments

Luis, just a few corrections and comments.  This won't make you happy but the proposed tax is an extension of the current one-cent transaction sales tax, not a half-cent tax and it has not been 5 years, by the time this current tax is through it will be ten years (original tax and one 5-year renewal or extension).

Several terms back (15 years ago?) the City Council (all different members and a different management then) put the city into enormous debt by increasing the retirement benefits for all city employees and even paying a part of their retirement contributions.  This was during a short term 'happy time' of a skyrocketing economy that was going to last forever (my little joke).  Then the bottom fell out and all those folks went on their way leaving the debt behind as a gift (sarcasm).  I opposed those raises and overly expensive benefits, but I lost that battle.

The current members have been cleaning up the mess.

As with many of the 'poorer' locations we go deepest into a crash and have the worst time getting out and the answer is your number 1; " the original conditions offered for the temporary tax have NOT changed or been met."  We have not been able to generate the revenue necessary to provide the levels of public service that the residents want, we do not have the business revenue we need to do it.  We are becoming more and more of a bedroom community and people want protection where they live. Much of th tax comes from out of the city and even with the tax we still have the lowest sales tax rate among the 12 local shopping areas  (Gilroy, Salinas, Morgan Hill, San Jose, Monterey, Watsonville, Sand City, Del Rey Oaks, Marina, etc.)

Since the tax has been in effect we have paid off many millions in debt, we have also put in the (now legal) two-tier hiring and retirement plans; however, there are still millions to pay in debt and it takes many years for the second tier to have a significant impact on the budget.

Police and fire (public protection) make up 60 percent of Hollister's $21 million General Fund budget, (28 percent police and 32 percent Fire).

That's typical in California due to the fact that they are 24/7 operations, going pay rates and the labor laws.  Administration is next at 12 percent followed by Parks and Rec at 7 percent.

If we lost the annual $4 million from the transaction tax, the most likely outcome would be a 20 percent across the board reduction in services, Fire, Police, Administration, Parks and Rec, Animal Control, Code Enforcement. etc.

I believe that for most residents that is not an acceptable level of service, it isn't for me.  Do I wish it were cheaper, a lot cheaper?  You bet, but it's not.  I will continue to push for greater efficiency and lower cost, but I do not want to reduce the service levels.

Marty Richman

Submitted by (Dee Murphy) on

Luis,

Do you realize the difference in 20 years ago and today? How we had no police responses because there might be one or two police officers on duty at all per shift? A fire truck but not enough fire personnel to use it ($550,000 cost) and a dilapidated fire station and only ONE fire station for 29,000 residents????

Imagine needing to call 9-1-1 and ask for the firefighters to come because your house is on fire and when the fire truck arrives...there are only three firefighters on the truck. YET it took 5 firefighters to functionally USE the truck and work the fire? Yes, this WAS how it was in the early 1990's. Now, I understand you were much younger back then and probably do not remember the reports that were not written, buildings that burned down, the crimes not solved because we lacked proper amounts of funding for public services.

Parks were in shambles or closed to use with no dog parks or places that were safe for kids to play in. We currently have had numerous parks repaired and are usable again and if not for all residents of Hollister being willing to pay a tax to keep these places and employees operating the departments then Hollister will fall back into needing more money later on.

Have you gone to the Hollister Police Department and spoken to Chief Westrick?, I am sure he would gladly take you on a few ride-alongs so that you can see all of the work our law enforcement officers, animal control officers and fire department employees do and where all of our tax dollars go to.

I sure did not see you mention how much these organizations budgets will be cut if Measure W fails but I can assure you that many people will be laid off and crime will go up Response times will go down or like in San Jose NO ONE will come at all and you will be told... File a report on-line!.

Now, I am not sure about you but I KNOW when I need to call 9-1-1 I ABSOLUTELY want someone to come and help me and by stating non-true facts as you have above you are misleading residents of Hollister and they will not fully understand the truth of Measure W. I for one shop in Santa Clara County (since Trader Joe's refuses to open a store here as I have written them several times asking for a TJ's) and I pay more in Santa Clara County then I do here!

VOTE YES on W Do not return to the past of limited police and fire personnel. As Marty Richmond said all of your "facts" are not correct facts unfortunately and you are misleading voters.

VOTE YES on Measure W

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Dee, which agency does your family member work in? LOL, my small business I had $15,000 in theft last winter - response from Police "we are sorry". This is after the tax increases were in place for almost a decade. Bottom line is we have more homeless because of these tax increase, plus more crime because of lack of economic planning. That means more cost and more expense and the need to take $90,000,000 out of local tax payers pockets over the 30 year life of the tax increases. 

Bottom line is this tax will make Hollister like Salinas - larger, more crime, more problems and more staff in a ugly long term cycle of decay. The good news is you will win becuase the Unions behind the tax increase have the tax money $15,000 I think from the last 10 years to use to overwhelm the voters with fear mongering stories. KInda like your response above. It's not wrong to be scared it just doesn't help anyone. American's really do better with leadership that is fearless but we don't have those people anymore. Until we get past the fear we can't guide the city to a positive outcome. 

 

 

Taxpayers need to be informed about the business of local government by their elected leaders.

Elected leaders - and yes even THE POLICE CHIEF - recommend EXTENDING the EXISTING TEMPORARY TAX in order to meet the fiscal needs of running the city.

There is no cause to vilify or characterize elected officials as "foolish" or "fork-tongued" for doing their jobs to the best of their ability and I see no correlation between Charlotte, Tulsa and Hollister. Worse, the sentence doesn't make sense from a grammar, syntax and contextual perspective;  "police resistance to and reluctance in allowing the public to see is unacceptable." HUH? 

In my view, the author would be better off simply expressing that he does not support the extension of the 1cent sales tax rather than failing to provide a cogent and compelling reason for doing so based on a lack of salient facts and demonstrably poor writing skills. 

Submitted by Dee Murphy (Team Driver) on

Tod,  

Please feel free to run for office elections are coming up! Good Luck. I am awaiting your solutions to solve all of these fear mongering stories I have. 

Salinas has 160,000 residents and Hollister has 35,000. San Benito County overall has 58.000 residents while Monterey County has almost 446,000 residents in no way are these two counties anything close.) 

I can assure you that our small town of Hollister is nothing like Salinas. Do you actually own a home in Hollister because I travel to Salinas often working and shopping and the difference is amazing in these two "towns". 

Please do explain how having a 1% tax continued (NOT a NEW tax) causes more homelessness. This is a tax raised from purchases at retail stores and food that is not prepared already is not taxed. I know from living here that there are more police on duty, more fire fighters, a newer fire station downtown (do you remember when and why Building D burned down?).

I believe your argument is invalid and that you need to come up with true facts instead of just typing what you want others to hear/read. Just look at what happened when San Jose our neighbor to the North passed Measure B! Now a city of 1,100,000 has barely 848 cops with no detectives units. 

Hear is a link to information on Measure W...
http://hollister.ca.gov/wp-content/uploads/2016/08/DRAFT.Hollister-FAQ.-...
 
When less law enforcement is on duty  (20% LESS is a HUGE amount of no responses to 9-1-1 calls)

all Hollister residents will be affected. No Tod, I know no one in the department and no relatives at all in Hollister. I am not scared, I am realistic and realize nothing comes for free. 

Also Tod aren't you living in San Luis Obispo???, if so why do you even care about Hollister and Measure W??

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Dee - it is called a regressive tax - that means it impacts the poorest people far more than the wealthy. So we are burdening the poor way more than those who can afford it. The tax hits all aspects of retails sales, including shoes, socks, sleeping bags, clothing, anything besides food that you need to live even as a poor person. 

I am quite effective at political action - I could alone fund and manage a campaign to beat Measure W alone if I wanted to. When I ran the Measure T Opposition we came within three point and the pro side spent 50 to 1 more - mostly the unions. The reason I don't is people in Hollister are afraid of political action - can you believe Americans in your town are AFRAID! It is shameful that situation exists but I can't alone cure all the ills and let's be real SLO is a way...way...way..way...WAY better place to live. 

So I'll just sit back and watch - it is less work and until the political process starts to function and we have competition in place locally things will not change. With Measure W that means 20 years of more of the same. Like Salinas, so we'll be having this conversation for a couple decades likely and then you'll move you family away as well realizing the path ahead is more of the same. 

 

 

Submitted by Dee Murphy (Team Driver) on

Tod,
Here is an article from the Chief of Police in Salinas where he has watched his staffing FALL from 187 in 2010 to 133 now (2016) and the Justice Department (remember the Justice Department analyzed Salinas PD for numerous reasons) and says the correct amount of officers is 260 which is double the force that is on now. 

http://www.ksbw.com/article/exclusive-salinas-police-chief-mcmillin-exit...

DId you head over to Hollister PD and speak with Chief Westrick yet and tell him your recommendations because he is a Chief who is community friendly and while you are there make sure to do a ride along to see your tax dollars at work.

PS In your statement (first one) above you said it was 30 years and in the secondary statement you now say it is 20 years...which time frame is the correct one for you? 

Also make sure to read what the Fire Chief said too.....

Seems like the City Council hopes that volunteer firefighters (you know citizen firefighters that volunteer after work) will be able to fulfill all of these spots in the fire department. If you were upset when you had a business and it was robbed IMAGINE the issues now when there are not enough fire fighters and rescue people and you end up in an auto accident or have a fire at your place of business? 12 firefighters terminated is 12 too many for me!

http://benitolink.com/chief-says-12-firefighters-be-let-go-if-grant-fund...

Funny you worry so much about San Benito Counties tax rate (7.5%) when you live in San Luis Obispo County (7.5%) (they match) and the county rates that border these counties are Monterey County 7.5%,

Kings (7.5%), Kern (7.5%), Santa Barbara (8.0%), (SLO areas) then Santa Cruz (8.25%), Santa Clara (8.75%) So overall San Benito County sits next to two higher taxed resident base. Of course also San Benito residents absolutely drive to Santa Clara to purchase taxed items at a higher tax rate (there is no tax refund except for those purchasing vehicles in a more expensive county).

I think your money is much better spent in your county plus you seem to be the one afraid since you moved away afraid of what I am not sure?

 

Checked one more fact of yours.... those living in poverty....

San Luis Obispo County 14.81%

San Benito County 12.14% 

Looks like more live in poverty in San Luis Obispo County than in San Benito County since 12.14 is LOWER than 14.81 that is 2.67% LOWER here in SBC! 

 

Let us all know how your ride along and talk with the Chief(s) go!

 

 

 

 

 

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Dee, I know Westrick well and went to school with Chief McMillan - Kelly is a dear friend. This is not about the police and fire staff or management - this is about poor city management and a failed political process to get good people in leadership roles on council. 

People try to attack me personally and suggest I am against police and fire and that is not the genesis or agenda though I understand that the taxes get used that way. This is about Hollister and SBC being able to compete effectively to get investment. Investment like hotels, restaurants, affordable housing, job creation instead of job retention. 

Simple facts that need to change: most politicians in Hollister and SBC run unopposed - that is bad - it means we get people who don't have to compete. In other words - weak or worse. Second none of the city hall senior management staff have proven successful in other cities of good reputation. That means we don't have senior management that actually know what they are doing or at least can't prove they know how to manage. 

Bottom line is we have fear that things will go wrong. Fear permeates and dysfunction happens. Bad projects get approved and good projects get blocked. Bottom llne is job creation and economic development that could provide massive more money for police and fire don't happen. In SLO that kind of investment happens. The staff here is HUGE and best of all each position is recruited from the best cities all over the country. The new chief of Police here came from Mesa, AZ - a much larger and vibrant city. 

If you want your kids to be able to grow up without fear and in a vastly better city you need to understand what actually drives success. 

 

 

 

 

Submitted by Tod DuBois (John Galt) on

Dee, that was a less than optimal example. I like Westrick but don't know if he is skilled. I know the prior Chief was a buffoon and there were multiple indictments of people on hos staff. 

Let's take City Manager - here is the bio for the City Manager in SLO - compare that to the bio for the current city manager in Hollister and you'll see exactly what I'm trying to get across. Also the political process here is highly competitive with multiple people running and with very high skill levels and diverse backgrounds. 

Katie Lichtig began her tenure as City Manager of the City of San Luis Obispo, California in January 2010. Ms. Lichtig was formerly Assistant City Manager/Chief Operating Office for Beverly Hills, California after serving as City Manager for the City of Malibu and Assistant to the City Manager in Santa Monica.

Ms. Lichtig has more than 25 years of varied public service experience. She began her career as a presidential management intern working for the Department of Treasury Office of Inspector General and the Office of Management and Budget in Washington, D.C. Katie’s next career move was to become a special agent with the Departments of Treasury and Education, investigating fraud and other white collar crimes. Ms. Lichtig then returned to Southern California and transitioned to a career in municipal management.

She received a Bachelor of Arts in political science, public service from the University of California at Davis and a master of public administration degree from Syracuse University. She is a member of the International City/County Management Association (ICMA), California City Management Foundation (CCMF) and the League of California Cities City Managers Division.

Tod, good example. Another good example is Kim Walesh, the deputy City Manager in San Jose. Her job is to keep economic development moving in that city. Bachelor's from Valparaiso, studies at the Kennedy Center for Business, Master's from Harvard. Think she is getting things done? Damn right she is. She more than pays her salary right back to the city with her efforts. You get what you pay for. Remember Mr Avera's comments when appointed to his position?  He said his primary focus is to “make sure you guys, the council, always looks good.” His poor English was a portend of his future performance.

Let's have a public safety department under Dave Westrick, eliminate the fire chief and the city manager and hire a Kim Walesh clone.  Oh, one can dream...

--William McCarey

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