Issue Updates

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  • 17 Jul 2012 11:22 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    A lot of publicity has gone to CalPERS and its pitiful 1% rate of return. CCCERA is using a 7.75 expected rate of return when for 2011 it earned 2.7%, the 5 year average is only 2.4%, and the 10 year average is 6.2%. Retaining that 7.75% rate of return will push more expenses to the governments in CCCERA including the county and ConFire. That will mean dollars that would go to services will be directed to pension payments.

    Experts are saying this is an unrealistic rate of return but often political decisions get in the way of good finance choices. For example, CalPERS received a lot of pressure from cities and unions who did not want their rate of return reduced from 7.75% to 7.5% when their actuaries suggested an even lower number.  This is because it would increase the cost of the payments to CalPERS. However, realistically, so does only earning the 1% that CalPERS just earned. However, that cost recognition is further in the future. It is expensive to kick the can down then road but that is the choice that is being made. 

  • 10 Jul 2012 7:50 PM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    The Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association released the following story:

    "Sacramento – In a victory for the integrity of the ballot process, the Court of Appeal for the Third Appellate District issued an order to the Secretary of State, Deborah Bowen, to reverse her action giving Governor Brown's tax hike initiative preference in the ballot materials or to submit a brief justifying her actions by July 30th. Pursuant to AB 1499, Bowen gave Brown's initiative the highest available number (Prop 30) on the November ballot."

    Read the rest at: http://www.hjta.org/press-releases/pr-court-appeal-orders-secretary-state-justify-manipulation-election-process

  • 06 Jun 2012 12:15 PM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    The poorly conceived Measure S for the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District was solidly defeated at 56.44% against and only 43.56% in favor of this parcel tax. There was no money spent on the "No" position - CoCoTAX authored a ballot argument along with two courageous East County citizens who signed the rebuttal along with me. The "yes" side not only had mailers and signs, they were telling the residents that half their stations would be closed, firefighters let go, and their insurance rates would go up. In the face of these threats the voters still said no.

    It is to be hoped that both the fire district board and the firefighters union will learn from this profound message the voters sent.

    I deeply regret that CoCoTAX, its Board, and I have been treated to attacks on our character. Issues choose CoCoTAX, we don't choose them.

  • 16 May 2012 6:44 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    Check out the May 11, 2012 Press release about the new $300,000 pension club level created by Craig Bowen formerly of the San Ramon Fire Protection District. He is Contra Costa County Employees' Retirment Association $100,000 Pension Club's first $300,000 man. 

    There are now 645 members of the $100,000 Club (receiving a monthly pension of $8,333 or more per month.) 

    40% of the recipients are former firefighters.  ConFire fills 180 of the 268 firefighter spots. 

  • 16 May 2012 6:32 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)

    A few supporters of Measure S have taken to attacking CoCoTAX Executive Director Kris Hunt for the organization's opposition to Measure S.  It seems they can't handle our logical arguments.

    There seems to be a real disconnect on the part of some that the fact the Fire District decided to offer a tax that starts at $197 (and can grow to $250) despite a poll showing people would only be willing to pay $96. The Board and firefighers (who are funding a mailer campaign) are now threatening voters with station closures.  They refuse to accept that they created this situation by only offering this plan which INCREASES STAFFING BY 30%! 

    It was not the only plan they could have offered. This is government arrogance at its worse but some are preferring to blame the messenger instead of looking in the mirror.

  • 04 Apr 2012 8:42 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)
    Shocking as it may seem, the average American works until April 17th this year just to pay his/her Federal, state, and local taxes. How ironic that April 17th is the day your income taxes are due this year!  Depressing is the thought that if the Federal government had not used borrowing to cover so much of its cost, this year's Tax Freedom Day would be May 14th!

    Average Californian taxpayers will continue to work an additional three days - until April 20th - to pay their share of taxes. These numbers are courtesy of the Tax Foundation at .http://taxfoundation.org/taxfreedomday
  • 04 Apr 2012 7:53 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)
    CoCoTAX's work on Richmond's attempt to circumvent the two-thirds vote for a sales tax increase by using two measures: one for the tax and one to say what they were going to use it for earned CoCoTAX a the Home Town Hero designation.  CoCoTAX's Executive Director, Kris Hunt, signed the ballot argument on behalf of CoCoTAX. The tax was defeated.
  • 22 Feb 2012 8:36 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)
    Because this is a "fee" the method chosen to distribute the ballots is through a private company, not the County Elections Office. The "ballot" may look more like an advertisement since the return address is the Clean Water group.  A copy of the envelope can be found here:  CCCWP Outgoing Env v1.pdf

    CoCoTAX is opposing this measure for a variety of reasons including, but not limited to:
    • The "fee" differs in three areas in Contra Costa County that seem to have no other basis than what polls show people will pay.
    • The fee is not modest like they emphasize (businesses can pay thousands of dollars) and the fee can be raised annually for the next ten years. 
    • There is already a similar fee on your tax bill that is now up to $30 and it was stated during the public hearing that they needed this new fee because that was not enough money.
    • The "calculations" include vague number justification and include dubious amounts for public outreach. The massive amounts of money being spent in advertising shows what is at stake.
    • There is no scientific studies that validate the claims that are being made for the need for many of the issues raised.
    • The trash reduction component is unrealistic and could actually cause flooding when such small particulates are trapped. (think leaves in the fall
  • 21 Feb 2012 6:12 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)
    Ed Mendel reported in his Calpensions blog that Governor Brown proposed to reduce pension costs in the state budget by switching some of the expense to the California State University budget. This is part of the Governor's proposal that would freeze support for the CSU and University of California pensions - a cost the systems could ill afford at this point.

    The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst’s Office said CSU would be faced with a potential burden “out of proportion” to its limited ability to control future pension costs. “For this reason, we recommend that the Legislature reject the governor’s approach,” the analyst said in a report this month.

    The rest of Mendel's excellent article can be found at: http://calpensions.com/2012/02/21/proposed-budget-shows-lower-calpers-payment/

  • 10 Jan 2012 6:53 AM | Jessica Wagner-Weir (Administrator)
    Since CoCoTAX went to LAFCO (Local Area Formation Commission) this past spring and requested that the MT Diablo Health Care District be dissolved there have been numerous newspaper stories, editorials, and an additional Contra Costa Grand Jury report (the fourth).  The recent study done by the consultant's hired by LAFCO as part of the dissolution process (the report and background can be found at http://www.contracostalafco.org/MtDiablo_Health_Care_District.htm)
    came to the same conclusion as CoCoTAX, four separate grand juries, and the Contra Costa Times:  dissolution is the practical solution for MDHCD which has a small income relative to expenses, major obligations for retiree health care, and no longer has a hospital to manage. While the tax dollars will not be eliminated, they can be put to better use if distributed to other governmental agencies and eliminating the high administrative costs.

    The vote on Wednesday will be a history making step for Contra Costa LAFCO should the opt to begin the dissolution process, and CoCoTAX is proud to have played a major part in the effort. The Grand Jurors who served so ably on the four separate grand juries should be congratulated for their efforts and will hopefully feel vindicated after the Wednesday vote.

    Nobody else wanted to press for this effort and it is a role only CoCoTAX was willing to step up and fill. Particular thanks are due to member Richard Soderholm who has been attending the MDHCD meetings for so many years.

    Kris Hunt, Executive Director
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