Worried about the national debt? It’s even worse for our cities.

By Charles Blain, The Hill | Ignorance toward local government issues is a plague that has the power to take down our country. Across America, there’s too much focus on the D.C. Beltway, rather than the cities and towns where much needed structural reforms can be made.

Related imageThe reality is, while it may not be as exciting, Americans are more likely to feel the effects of changes made inside city halls than most bills passed by Congress.

Washington has repeatedly received criticism over its staggering debt. While you often hear of the $19 trillion in debt the federal government currently owes, you rarely hear about the $1.2 trillion in debt owed locally. According to Moody’s, the $1.2 trillion in local debt is expected to balloon to $1.75 trillion nationwide through fiscal 2017.

Most municipal debt stems from the ever-increasing unfunded liabilities of public pension plans — a situation that isn’t good for taxpayers or government employees.

Read the entire article . . .

 

Posted in City Budget, Pensions | Leave a comment

Proposition 13 is the original victim of ‘fake news’

By Jon Coupal | As Proposition 13 approaches its 39th birthday, it is still subject to the same dishonest attacks in the media that were used against it when it was on the ballot in 1978. Proposition 13 was one of the first victims of “fake news.”

Prop 13“The bigwigs in labor and business went all out to defeat 13,” said its principal author, Howard Jarvis. “They tried to outdo one another in issuing doomsday prophecies about what passage of 13 would mean.” The media slavishly supported the exaggerated and dishonest claims, often endorsing them through editorials and by giving prominent placement to negative stories on the tax revolt.

The politicians, including Gov. Jerry Brown, and government agencies from top to bottom weighed in. Here is a typical example: Before the election, Alameda County Transit told the public that passage of Prop. 13 would result in the termination of 80 percent of its 2,000 employees. Two months later, the Fremont-Newark Argus reported on the aftermath of the passage of Proposition 13, “To date, no one in the district has been laid off and officials now believe there will be no massive layoffs.” The paper added that three local fire districts that anticipated losing one-half to three-fourths of its staff, had not lost a single firefighter to Prop. 13.

To read the entire column, please click here.

 

Posted in Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, Jon Coupal | Leave a comment

Watch last night’s city council meeting

To read or download the meeting agenda, click here (pdf).

[EDITOR'S NOTE: This video may not work with all browsers.]

 

Posted in City Council, Video of council meetings | Leave a comment

Fullerton’s overnight parking ban to be discussed tonight

By Spencer Custodio, Voice of OC | Parking in her neighborhood was arduous — at best — until Leah McCallaugh went before the Fullerton City Council, delivered an emotional plea to end overnight parking restrictions and tearfully waved at least a half dozen parking tickets.

“All these are tickets from where I live. I work hard. I’m a taxpayer. I have every right to park on the streets I live on,” McCallaugh told the council through her tears. “I find it very disrespectful that no one will take consideration and look at our situation.”

McCallaugh and her parking tickets highlighted an issue faced by many in apartment neighborhoods across the southern half of Fullerton.

The city council has been addressing the problem in a series of patchwork fixes since Oct. 18 when McCallaugh and her Citrus Avenue neighbors raised the issue.

But tonight the council will kick off a citywide discussion on how to best tackle the city’s shortage of overnight parking spaces.

Read the entire news story . . .

 

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Mayor’s next ‘Talk Around Town’ is this Thursday

Fullerton Mayor Bruce Whitaker will be holding another monthly “Talk Around Town with Bruce” this Thursday, March 23, at Chapman Park,  2515 San Carlos Drive. The event will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is free to attend. Participants are encouraged to bring a friend or neighbor as well as questions.

For additional information, contact the city’s Public Information Officer at 714-738-6317.

Last month’s event was held at The Muckenthaler:

Last month's event at The Muckenthaler

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California’s property taxes are not as low as you think

Editorial, The Orange County RegisterSome like to claim that Proposition 13 has decimated local government revenue and made California a low property tax state, but this is hardly the case.

Property TaxWhile Proposition 13 has succeeded in preventing property tax hikes as large as many big-government proponents might wish (not to mention providing a stable revenue stream that is largely insulated from the sometimes dramatic shifts in property values), local governments are far from starved for revenue.

California has an effective tax rate of 0.81 percent, or 81 cents for every $100 of assessed value, according to a recent study by WalletHub. That ties us with Arizona for just the 33rd-highest rate in the nation (including the District of Columbia), which sounds pretty good.

Unfortunately, since housing prices are so ungodly in the Golden State – the $385,500 median value was the third-highest (behind only Hawaii and D.C.), and more than twice the $178,600 U.S. median value in 2015 – that Californians still end up paying much more than most in property taxes. When calculated based on the median home value, California’s $3,104 in annual property taxes shot up to 11th in the nation.

This is somewhat to be expected, given the higher standard of living. To gain a better understanding of how much of a burden these property taxes really are, Orange County Register reporter Jonathan Lansner compared the median property tax payments to median annual incomes ($64,500 here in California) and found that the state’s 4.8 percent share of income ranked 10th worst among the states.

Read the full editorial . . .

 

Posted in Prop. 13, Taxes | Leave a comment

Tuesday’s city council meeting agenda

To read or download tomorrow night’s detailed council meeting agenda, click here (pdf).

The public participation portion of the meeting begins at 6:30 with presentations and awards. Actual city business normally doesn’t start until 7:00 or thereafter. Following are the headings for tomorrow night’s agenda items:

REGULAR BUSINESS (Items 1 – 4)

1. DISCUSSION OF PROCESS TO STUDY CITYWIDE OVERNIGHT PARKING POLICIES
2. VALENCIA DRIVE – EARLY MORNING PARKING
3. BUDGET STRATEGIES FOR FISCAL YEAR 2018-19
4. DRAFT 2017 LEGISLATIVE PLATFORM

CONSENT CALENDAR (Items 5 – 13)

5. FEBRUARY 28, 2017 SPECIAL MEETING MINUTES AND MARCH 7, 2017 MEETING MINUTES
6. FEBRUARY 2017 CHECK REGISTER
7. BECKMAN BUSINESS CENTER ZONING AMENDMENT – SECOND READING OF ORDINANCE
8. MONTHLY LEGISLATIVE UPDATE
9. EXTENSION OF TIME WARNER CABLE LEASE AGREEMENT FOR 2011 NORTH ACACIA AVENUE – HUBERT C. FERRY RESERVOIR
10. ANNUAL HOUSING ELEMENT PROGRESS REPORT
11. MALVERN AVENUE / CHAPMAN AVENUE REGIONAL TRAFFIC SIGNAL SYNCHRONIZATION PROJECT
12. AWARD OF CITY TREE SERVICES CONTRACT
13. SUMMARY VACATION ABANDONING PUBLIC UTILITY EASEMENTS OVER PORTION OF 770 SOUTH HARBOR BOULEVARD

ADJOURNMENT

 

Posted in Council Meeting Agendas | Leave a comment

If federal taxes go down, state and local taxes could go up

By Kathleen Pender, San Francisco Chronicle | As President Trump and his allies in Congress work to cut federal taxes and spending, San Francisco’s elected officials are laying plans to create new taxes at the state and local levels.

The Board of Supervisors plans to vote next week on a resolution urging the California Legislature to amend state law to allow cities and other local governments to impose personal and corporate income taxes. The resolution says the city needs to explore “progressive” new revenue sources because the Trump administration has threatened to withdraw federal funds from sanctuary cities and is working to overturn the Affordable Care Act, which could increase the city’s cost of providing health services.

At the state level, Sen. Scott Wiener, D-San Francisco, has introduced a ballot measure that would create a California estate tax, but only if Trump and congressional Republicans carry out their vow to kill the federal estate tax.

In 2015, the federal estate tax brought in $17.1 billion, of which $4.5 billion or 26 percent came from California, even though California accounts for only 12 percent of the U.S. population. The proposed California estate tax would have the same rates and rules as the federal one, but the billions it raises would go to California instead of federal coffers, Wiener said.

That federal tax applies to the portion of an estate that exceeds roughly $5.5 million per person. The rate tops out at 40 percent. In 2015, it applied to just under 5,000 estates, including 975 in California.

Both new tax proposals face an uphill battle. Only 14 states let local governments impose income taxes, and only 14 states and the District of Columbia levy state estate taxes, according to the Tax Foundation.

California has never allowed local income taxes. In 1963, amid rumblings to enact them, the Legislature passed a law forbidding them. To begin imposing them, the Legislature would have to amend that law and the governor would have to approve it. Then, a city or county would have to get local voters to approve the tax, said Michael Coleman, who runs CaliforniaCityFinance.com.

Read the entire news story . . .

 

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Fullerton police officer charged with filing false police report

By Kelly Puente, Orange County Register | A Fullerton police officer has been accused of filing a false police report after he stated that a suspect resisted arrest when police body camera footage showed otherwise, authorities said.

Fullerton Police Officer Miguel Siliceo (Courtesy of Orange County Register)Miguel Siliceo, 51, of Anaheim [$196,979] was charged Wednesday with one felony count of false report by a peace officer. If convicted, he faces up to three years in jail, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors said Siliceo was on patrol with his partner in downtown Fullerton on July 9, 2015, when he arrested a man, identified only as John Doe, for resisting arrest.

Siliceo prepared an arrest report stating that the man “charged at Siliceo’s partner during the arrest of another suspect,” prosecutors said.

The DA’s Office said it relied on Siliceo’s report when it charged the man with one misdemeanor count of resisting arrest.

Prosecutors later reviewed body camera footage from other officers at the scene and determined that the footage did not corroborate Siliceo’s arrest report, the DA’s Office said. Prosecutors dropped charges against the man and filed criminal charges against Siliceo.

Read the entire news story . . .

 

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Bill would eliminate state income taxes for public school teachers

By Joel Fox | It seems those pushing a bill to eliminate state income taxes for teachers have a large strategic hurdle to clear. Teachers through their unions frequently campaign for more taxes. How would it look if teachers are campaigning for more taxes and they no longer have to pay income taxes? Bad optics, as they say in the PR biz.

A bill to encourage more teachers to remain in the profession by eliminating state income taxes for 10 years is designed to offset the shortage of teachers reported in many school districts across the state. SB 807 author Sen. Henry Stern argues that investing in teachers is the “ultimate economic stimulus.” In fact, supporters have favorably compared the bill to tax credits and tax cuts offered segments of the business community to spur the economy.

Joel FoxThe teacher tax avoidance plan is not a direct stimulus to the economy as the typical business proposal. No question enterprise zones or, for example, the film tax credit, were undertaken to boost the economy and there have been some successes along those lines. Supporters of SB 807 argue an economic boost to the state would come through better-educated students. The comparison is a stretch, but the point is taken that the proposal is to create an incentive for teachers in a similar way businesses are incentivized to carry on their business in California cities or the state.

There are a number of issues that the bill’s supporters have to deal with.

For one, a similar issue raised against some of the business credits is that such laws show favoritism to certain industries, or in the teachers’ case, professions. The bill’s backers would argue the goal benefits society as a whole, but a similar argument could be applied to others such as first responders who might seek the same treatment.

Further, what reaction to expect from the average taxpayer? Already, there is an argument that public employees enjoy benefits private workers don’t have from generous pensions (backed by the taxpayers), to a more liberal holiday, days-off policy, and now perhaps the possibility to avoid state income taxes. We must be careful not to separate the public workers too far from the citizens they serve.

With teachers in particular, we are again raising the tax issue. Billions of dollars for schools have been raised through tax increases on the state and local levels in recent elections. Yet, we hear there is never enough money spent on schools. Yet, this proposal benefiting teachers punches a potential $617 million hole in the state budget.

And, there is that problem mentioned above that teachers campaigning for tax increases would have to explain why they are excused from paying taxes.

Legislators will ask how the tax changes and increased income for teachers will add to the CalSTRS pension situation. Will teacher salary raises from school districts be less forthcoming for teachers since they are receiving a raise by not paying taxes, thus negating the idea behind the bill to encourage teachers to remain in the job by boosting income?

[Cross-posted from Fox & Hounds.]

Posted in Joel Fox, Taxes, Teacher Unions | 1 Comment