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Contra Costa Taxpayers Association

Issue Updates & Blog

  • 05 Nov 2015 2:28 PM | Anonymous
    • Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association (HJTA) believes that the use of a benefit assessment, rather then a special tax, to fund fire suppression services constitutes a violation of article XIII D of the California Constitution (Proposition 218).
    • The California Supreme Court has explained “An assessment can be imposed only for a ‘special benefit’ conferred on a particular property.” i.e. not a general benefit.
    • The California Supreme Court has further explained “No assessment shall be imposed on any parcel which exceeds the reasonable cost of the proportional special benefit conferred on that parcel.”
    • During the Proposition 218 election the Legislative Analyst’s Office wrote in the Official Voter Guide “Typical assessments that provide general benefits include fire, park, ambulance, and mosquito control assessments.”
    • HJTA says as drafters of Proposition 218 they agree that fire suppression services for assessment financing but must be funded through property taxes or other general and special taxes.

    *Reference: Howard Jarvis Taxpayer Association letter, June 10, 2015 to Chief Dale Skiles and Board of Directors, Salida Fire Protection District


  • 03 Nov 2015 3:25 PM | Anonymous

    15-0077 Arndt.# I

    Government Pension Cap Act of 2016

    SECTION 1. TITLE.

    This measure shall be known and may be cited as "Government Pension Cap

    Act of 2016."

    SECTION 2. STATEMENT OF FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) Government has an obligation to provide essential services that protect the

    safety, health, welfare, and quality of life enjoyed by all Californians. State and

    local governments face reduction or elimination of essential services because of

    costly, unsustainable retirement benefits granted to government employees.

    (b) Almost all of these benefits were granted without the consent of voters.

    Consequently, the need to empower voters to reform retirement benefits for

    new government employees is a matter of statewide concern.

    (c) Therefore, the people hereby amend the Constitution to limit the cost of

    retirement benefits granted to new government employees and to empower

    voters to approve or reject any proposed increases in those limits.

    SECTION 3. Section 23 of Article XVI of the California State Constitution is

    added to read as follows:

    Sec. 23 (a) Government employers shall not contribute more than 11 percent of

    base compensation for a new employee's retirement benefits. Government

    employers shall not contribute more than 13 percent of base compensation for

    a new safety employee's retirement benefits. All other costs, including

    unfunded liability costs, of a new employee's retirement benefits shall be the

    responsibility of the employee, unless the voters of that jurisdiction establish a

    new limitation.

    (b) Government employers shall not pay more than one-half of the total cost

    of retirement benefits for new government employees unless the voters of

    that jurisdiction have approved paying that higher proportion.

    (c) Challenges to the actions of a government employer or retirement board

    to comply with requirements of this section may only be brought in the

    courts of California exercising judicial power as provided in Article VI or in

    the courts of the United States.

    (d) Nothing in this section shall alter any provisions of a labor agreement in

    effect as of the effective date of this Act, but this Section shall apply to any

    successor labor agreement, renewal or extension entered into after the

    effective date of this Act. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to

    amend or modify section 9 of Article I.

    1

    (e) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to limit the ability of

    government employers to offer defined benefit pension plans or defined

    contribution plans or a combination of both plans for new employees, subject

    to the limitations in this section.

    (f) Government employers may provide disability benefits and death

    benefits for new employees which are not subject to the limitations of

    this section. ·

    (g) For the purpose of this section, the following definitions shall be applied:

    (1) "New employee" means any of the following:

    (A) An individual who becomes a member of any state or local public

    retirement system in California for the first time on or after January 1,

    2019, and who was not a member of any other state or local public

    retirement system in California prior to that date.

    (B) An individual who becomes a member of a state or local public

    retirement system in California for the first time on or after January 1,

    2019, and who was a member of another public retirement system prior

    to that date, but who was not subject to reciprocity under subdivision (c)

    of California Government Code Section 7522.02 as it existed on

    September 1, 2015.

    (C) An individual who was an active member in a state or local retirement

    system in California and who, after a break in service of more than six

    months, returned to active membership in that system with a new

    employer. For purposes of this subdivision, a change in employment

    between state entities or from one school employer to another shall not

    be considered as service with a new employer.

    (2) "Government employer" means the state, or a political subdivision of

    the state including, but not limited to, counties, cities, charter counties,

    charter cities, charter city and counties, school districts, special districts,

    boards, commissions, the Regents of the University of California,

    California State University, and agencies thereof.

    (3) "Retirement benefits" includes defined benefit pension plans, defined

    contribution plans, retiree healthcare plans, Medicare, Social Security,

    or any form of deferred compensation provided by government

    employers. "Retirement benefits" does not include death and disability

    benefits.

    (4) A "new safety employee" means any new government employee as

    defined in (g) ( 1) who is also a police officer or sheriff duly certified in their

    2

    law enforcement position, any licensed firefighter, any prison guard, or

    other classification the government employer finds is a high risk law

    enforcement or public safety position.

    (5) "Base compensation" means the regular annual base pay of the

    individual public employee and reflective of regular base pay of similarly

    situated employees of the same group or class of employment for services

    rendered on a full-time basis during normal working hours, pursuant to

    publicly available pay schedules, and subject to any. exclusions as defined

    in California Government Code Section 7422.34 as it existed on

    September 1, 2015.

    SECTION 4. GENERAL PROVISIONS.

    (a) This Act is intended to be comprehensive. It is the intent of the People

    that in the event this Act and one or more measures relating to the same

    subject shall appear on the same statewide election ballot, the provisions of

    the other measure or measures shall be deemed to be in conflict with this

    Act. In the event that this Act receives a greater number of affirmative votes,

    the provisions of this Act shall prevail in their entirety, and all provisions of

    the other measure or measures shall be null and void.

    (b) If any provision of this Act, or part thereof, or the applicability of any

    provision or part to any person or circumstances, is for any reason held to be

    invalid or unconstitutional, the remaining provisions and parts shall not be

    affected, but shall remain in full force and effect, and to this end the

    provisions and parts of this Act are severable. The voters hereby declare that

    this Act, and each portion and part, would have been adopted irrespective of

    whether any one or more provisions or parts are found to be invalid or

    unconstitutional.

    (c) This Act is an exercise of the public power of the people of the State of

    California for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the people of

    the State of California, and shall be liberally construed to effectuate its

    purposes.

    (d) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the State, government

    agency, or any of its officials fail to defend the constitutionality of this act,

    following its approval by the voters, any other government employer, the

    proponent, or in his or her absence, any citizen of this State shall have the

    authority to intervene in any court action challenging the constitutionality of

    this act for the purpose of defending its constitutionality, whether such

    action is in trial court, on appeal, and on discretionary review by the

    Supreme Court of California and/ or the Supreme Court of the United States.

    The fees and costs of defending the action shall be a charge on funds

    appropriated to the Attorney General, which shall be satisfied promptly.

    3


  • 03 Nov 2015 3:22 PM | Anonymous

    1 5 - o o 7 a Arndt.# I

    Voter Empowerment Act of 2016

    SECTION 1. TITLE.

    This measure shall be known and may be cited as "The Voter Empowerment Act of

    2016."

    SECTION 2. STATEMENT OF FINDINGS AND PURPOSE.

    (a) Government has an obligation to provide essential services that protect the

    safety, health, welfare, and quality of life enjoyed by all Californians. State and local

    governments face elimination or reduction of essential services because of costly,

    unsustainable retirement benefits granted to new government employees.

    (b) Almost all of these benefits were granted without the consent of voters.

    Consequently, the need to empower voters to approve retirement benefits for

    government employees is a matter of statewide concern.

    (c) Therefore, the people hereby amend the Constitution to reform retirement

    benefits granted to new government employees and to require voters to approve or

    reject increases in defined benefits proposed for any government employees.

    SECTION 3. Section 23 of Article XVI of the California State Constitution is added

    to read:

    Sec. 23 (a) Government employers shall not provide a benefit enhancement to any

    new government employee in a defined benefit pension plan unless the voters of that

    jurisdiction approve that enhancement.

    (b) Government employers may only enroll new government employees in a defined

    benefit pension plan if the voters of that jurisdiction approve enrollment in such a

    plan.

    (c) Government employers shall not pay more than one-half of the total cost of

    retirement benefits for new government employees unless the voters of that

    jurisdiction have approved paying that higher proportion.

    (d) Retirement ooardsshaltnot impose termina-tt-on fee-s-;-a:cceterate-p-aym-en·-nts,..,.on~--~

    existing debt, or impose other financial conditions against a government employer

    that proposes to close a defined benefit pension plan to new members, unless voters

    of that jurisdiction or the sponsoring government employer approve the fees,

    accelerated payment, or financial conditions.

    (e) Challenges to the actions of a government employer or a retirement board to

    comply with requirements of this section may only be brought in the courts of

    California exercising judicial power as provided in Article VI or in the courts of the

    United States.

    1

    (f) Nothing in this section shall alter any provisions of a labor agreement in effect as

    of the effective date of this Act, but this Section shall apply to any successor labor

    agreement, renewal or extension entered into after the effective date of this Act.

    Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to amend or modify section 9 of Article I.

    (g) Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to modify or limit any disability

    benefits provided for government employees or death benefits for families of

    government employees, even if those benefits are provided as part of a retirement

    benefits system. Nothing in this section shall be interpreted to require voter

    approval for death or disability benefits.

    (h) For the purpose of this section, the following definitions shall be applied:

    (1) "New employee" means any of the following:

    (A) An individual who becomes a member of any state or local public

    retirement system in California for the first time on or after January 1, 2019,

    and who was not a member of any other state or local public retirement

    system in California prior to that date.

    (B) An individual who becomes a member of a state or local public retirement

    system in California for the first time on or after January 1, 2019, and who

    was a member of another public retirement system prior to that date, but who

    was not subject to reciprocity under subdivision (c) of California Government

    Code Section 7522.02 as it existed on September 1, 2015.

    (C) An individual who was an active member in a state or local retirement

    system in California and who, after a break in service of more than six

    months, returned to active membership in that system with a new employer.

    For purposes of this subdivision, a change in employment between state

    entities or from one school employer to another shall not be considered as

    service with a new employer.

    (2) "Government employer" means the state, or a political subdivision of the

    state including, but not limited to, counties, cities, charter counties, charter

    cities, charter city and counties, school districts, special districts, boards,

    commissions, the Regents of the University of California, California State

    University, and agencies thereof.

    (3) A "defined benefit pension plan" means a plan that provides lifetime

    payments to retirees and survivors based upori a formula using factors such as

    age, length of service or final compensation.

    (4) "Retirement benefits" includes defined benefit pension plans, defined

    contribution plans, retiree healthcare plans, or any form of deferred

    compensation offered by government employers.

    2

    (5) A "benefit enhancement" means any change in a defined benefit pension plan

    that increases the value of an employee's benefit including, but not limited to,

    reducing employee's share of cost, increasing a benefit formula, increasing the

    rate of cost of living adjustments, expanding the categories of pay included in

    pension calculations, reducing a vesting period, lowering the eligible retirement

    age, or otherwise providing an economic advantage for government employees in

    a defined benefit plan, except for the disability component of any defined benefit

    plan.

    SECTION 4. GENERAL PROVISIONS.

    (a) This Act is intended to be comprehensive. It is the intent of the People that in

    the event this Act and one or more measures relating to the same subject shall

    appear on the same statewide election ballot, the provisions of the other measure or

    measures shall be deemed to be in conflict with this Act. In the event that this Act

    receives a greater number of affirmative votes, the provisions of this Act shall prevail

    in their entirety, and all provisions of the other measure or measures shall be null

    and void.

    (b) If any provision of this Act, or part thereof, or the applicability of any provision or

    part to any person or circumstances, is for any reason held to be invalid or

    unconstitutional, the remaining provisions and parts shall not be affected, but shall

    remain in full force and effect, and to this end the provisions and parts of this Act

    are severable. The voters hereby declare that this Act, and each portion and part,

    would have been adopted irrespective of whether any one or more provisions or

    parts are found to be invalid or unconstitutional.

    (c) This Act is an exercise of the public power of the people of the State of California

    for the protection of the health, safety, and welfare of the people of the State of

    California, and shall be liberally construed to effectuate its purposes.

    (d) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, if the State, government agency, or

    any of its officials fail to defend the constitutionality of this act, following its

    approval by the voters, any other government employer, the proponent, or in his or

    her absence, any citizen of this State shall have the authority to intervene in any

    court action challenging the constitutionality of this act for the purpose of defending

    its constitutionality, whether such action is in trial court, on appeal, and on

    discretionary review by the Supreme Court of California and/ or the Supreme Court

    of the United States. The fees and costs of defending the action shall be a charge on

    funds appropriated to the Attorney General, which shall be satisfied promptly.

    3


  • 27 Oct 2015 3:23 PM | Anonymous

    By working just two and a half more years, retired Vallejo City Manager Joseph Tanner boosted his starting annual pension from $131,500 to $216,000. He wants more, claiming he's entitled to yearly retirement pay of $307,000.

    An administrative law judge, the board of the California Public Employees' Retirement System and a Sacramento County judge all rejected his outlandish pension-spiking attempt. Now he is now taking his six-year dispute to the state Court of Appeal. At issue is whether CalPERS must pay benefits on a contract Tanner and the Vallejo City Council concocted to boost his pension or whether the retirement system has the legal right and responsibility to set boundaries. So far the rulings have come down on the side of sanity.

    Read more:  http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_29009577/daniel-borenstein:-city-managers-breathtaking-pensionspiking-gambit-seeks-307000-annual-payout


  • 27 Oct 2015 3:20 PM | Anonymous

    CalPERS officials know they have a serious problem: The nation's largest pension system holds too many risky investments to adequately withstand the next big economic downturn.

    Yet the only proposal under consideration to shore up the system would take decades to properly rebalance CalPERS' portfolio. If the next major recession comes before then, the retirement system will have to sock state and local governments with devastating rate increases at a time when they can least afford it.

    Read more:  http://www.contracostatimes.com/news/ci_28992152/daniel-borenstein:-calpers-plan-for-reducing-investment-risk-leaves-pension-system-vulnerable


  • 27 Oct 2015 3:18 PM | Anonymous

    CalPERS officials know they have a serious problem: The nation's largest pension system holds too many risky investments to adequately withstand the next big economic downturn.

    Yet the only proposal under consideration to shore up the system would take decades to properly rebalance CalPERS' portfolio. If the next major recession comes before that, the retirement system will have to sock state and local governments with devastating rate increases at a time when they can least afford it.

    Read more:  http://www.contracostatimes.com/opinion/ci_28980965/daniel-borenstein:-calpers-protracted-plan-for-reducing-investment-risk-leaves-pension-system-vulnerable


  • 27 Oct 2015 3:16 PM | Anonymous

    Former San Jose Mayor Chuck Reed has twice rolled out statewide pension reform initiatives. Each time, Attorney General Kamala Harris effectively killed the measures before Reed could start collecting signatures to place them on the ballot.

    This time might be different.

    Read more:  http://www.contracostatimes.com/opinion/ci_28941163/daniel-borenstein:-latest-chuck-reed-pension-initiatives-address-attorney-generals-past-concerns


  • 29 Jul 2015 4:05 PM | Anonymous

    CoCoTax continues to advocate for sustainable public employee compensation, including rational and affordable benefits.  The current massive unfunded pension liability has forced a proposal by state initiative to curb such abuses.  Read more at www.ReformCalifornia.org


  • 13 Oct 2014 9:55 AM | Anonymous

    California regulators have cracked down on hundreds of public officials up and down the state who accepted meals, baseball tickets, brownies and other gifts from a bond-finance company and failed to disclose them.

    http://www.utsandiego.com/news/2014/oct/06/stone-youngberg-poway-meals-statewide-probe/

  • 10 Jun 2014 3:49 PM | Anonymous

    The Contra Costa Board of Supervisors voted 3-2 to conduct a poll for a countywide half cent sales tax. After the defeat of Measure C, the West Contra Costa Healthcare District nursing staff is urging action for a sales tax to avoid shutdown. Supervisor Piepho and Andersen voiced strong opposition towards the countywide sales tax. The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association questioned the proposed sales tax and what it will fund. Contra Costa County has a combined $3.2 billion unfunded pension liability debt. CoCoTax questioned if it was being used to pay for the pensions. Questions were not answered by the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors.

     

    On May 30 and June 5, the nurses held a public town hall meeting in Hercules and Pleasant Hill for public outreach to keep Doctor’s Medical Hospital open with a countywide sales tax. The county cites how Santa Clara, San Mateo, and Alameda counties have a similar half cent sales tax. At the same time, many local Contra Costa cities such as Walnut Creek, Pinole and Richmond are considering Nov. sales tax ballot measures. The figure can be more than 10% for some cities. It is important to note that Contra Costa County will soon have some of the highest sales taxes in the state of California.

     

    On Tuesday, June 3rd, the board of supervisors authorized $45,000 to conduct a countywide poll for a Nov. 2014 countywide sales tax. It requires the final vote of four supervisors to submit for a countywide sales tax.

     

    To voice concerns about high sales taxes in Contra Costa County, please contact your supervisor:

     

    District I: Supervisor John Gioia (Represents Richmond, El Cerrito, San Pablo)

    Tel:510-231-8686

    E-mail: http://www.co.contra-costa.ca.us/forms.aspx?fid=120

     

    District II: Supervisor Candace Andersen (Lamorinda, San Ramon, Danville, portions of Walnut Creek)

    Tel:925-957-8860

    E-mail: candace.andersen@bos.cccounty.us

     

    District III: Supervisor Mary Piepho (Brentwood, portions of Antioch, Oakley, Discovery Bay)

    Tel: 925-252-4500

    E-mail: Dist3@BOS.CCCounty.us

     

    District IV: Supervisor Karen Mitchoff (Concord, Pleasant Hill, Clayton, portions of Walnut Creek)

    Tel:925-521-7100

    E-mail: SupervisorMitchoff@bos.cccounty.us

     

    District V: Supervisor Federal Glover (portions of Pinole/Antioch, Hercules, Martinez, Pittsburg, Rodeo)

    Tel:510-262-8800

    E-mail: district5@bos.cccounty.us

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