How To Pass A New Parcel Tax Measure….

June 30, 2012

…. IN AN ANTI-TAX POLITICAL ENVIRONMENT

If only the  Wildomar City Council had chosen to run a simple parcel tax in June 2011, thereby eliminating the opposition to the self-imposed stigma of a Mello Roos/Community Facilities District. Had they done so, it is likely that Measure D would have been successful. (But then, if my aunt had a mustache, she’d be my uncle).

Intending to be true to my words spoken before the Wildomar City Council last Wednesday evening, I will not oppose the upcoming $28 per year parcel tax, which is likely to be authorized at the July 2012 City Council meeting.

The underlying premise of my previous promotion and support for a simple parcel tax, was that it was the “easiest sell” as a replacement tax  for the tax maintenance assessment that was struck down by the Appeals Court. Unfortunately for the citizens of Wildomar, the City Council squandered their best opportunity to have an ongoing funding mechanism for parks.

Now they’re going to have to do something different to regain the political momentum for the upcoming election.

Quite naturally, I have a suggestion for them. (“Re-Thinking Wildomar; Doing Better With Less”)

Back in the 1980s, I was the top listing Realtor for all of the ERA Realty franchise’s of Central California, selling real estate in the beautiful community of Visalia, California.

My particular niche was to go after “expired listings,” by fearlessly and personally contacting frustrated homeowners, whose homes had been on the market for months without selling,  due to a recessionary economic environment.

I was able to re-list their homes with a promise to re-energize interest in their home in a variety of ways, primarily through a reduction in price.

In the same manner, the Wildomar City Council could re-energize political support for the upcoming parcel tax by reducing the amount requested, for the following reasons:

1) If the new measure is successful, there will be more parcels “taxed” than in the previous assessment.

According to Assistant City Manager, Gary Nordquist, this revealing admission; “The parcel tax would generate in the ballpark of $330,000, which is still greater than the approximately $225,000 needed to fund parks’ maintenance.”

The additional monies is simply from an increase in the number of parcels which will be taxed under the new measure.

Based on the above, the Wildomar City Council could, and should, reduce the requested amount by approximately 32%, asking owners to approve a parcel tax in the range of $19-$20 per year.

 2) The costs allocated to parks could, and should be, significantly reduced.

Again according to Nordquist, during his PowerPoint presentation at last week’s Special Council meeting, he used old and outdated budget numbers for park maintenance, such as $122,000 per year for Marna O’Brien, and and $35,000 each, for Windsong Park and Heritage Regency Park.

These numbers included the cost for a contract vendor to provide services as Community Services Director in the specific amount of $24,000.

However, with the creation of the Community Services Manager employee position, those previously-contracted services will be absorbed in the proposed $60,000-$70,000 salary for the new position,  of which parks oversight will be a smaller, allocable budget item for an exempt, salaried employee.

Overall, the parks budget could, and should,  be reduced by approximately another 12%.

As a result, the Wildomar City Council could, and should, reduce the amount requested in the new parcel tax to as little as $17.50 per parcel.

The immediate benefit of proposing a smaller parcel tax would be the positive public relations opportunities that will be provided to the pro-park proponents, who will have to be the city’s surrogates for the measure and should enable the proponents to gain a 66 2/3% majority vote on November 06, 2012.

Just like an old and tired real estate listing, if you put it back on the market, you have to do something different.

And nothing garners people’s attention better than a price reduction.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.

I know that Nordquist can “sharpen his pencil,” if so directed by the City Council.

Greedy politicians and bureaucrats ultimately created the Tea Party movement.

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Eloquence Over….

June 28, 2012

 

…. ARROGANCE

While observing the Wildomar City Council meeting last evening, I thought the defining moment was when a young teenager, who was admittedly a big supporter of last year’s failed Measure D, stood up and told the City Council about his disappointment over the failure of the measure because it was associated with Mello Roos.

Continuing with youthful eloquence, he calmly stated that, if the City Council proposed another parks funding measure that was associated with Mello Roos, he would be unwilling to participate in any support activities for the new measure.

In contrast, later in the evening, City councilmember Marsha Swanson, took the opportunity to dismiss the entire Mello Roos argument, by foolishly reminding everyone that it was only two guys names attached to Communities Facilities District legislation.

Obviously, in her arrogance, Swanson missed the moment and the point.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.

For the best coverage of the meeting, where the City Council voted 4-0 to potentially carry forward in consideration for putting a measure on the November 2012 ballot, but only as “parcel tax,” rather than another foolish Mello Roos proposal, please click on the following link:

http://lakeelsinore-wildomar.patch.com/articles/wildomar-aims-to-open-parks-without-mello-roos-tax


Why Wildomar is a Day Late And A….

June 27, 2012

 

….PARK SHORT

Is Wildomar City councilmember Marsha Swanson serious when she tells The Californian reporter, Michael J. Williams that the issue of putting a park measure on the November ballot only occurred to her the end of the June 13, 2012 City Council meeting?

If so, what has she been doing with her brain over the last several months of meetings?

Please click on the following link to the Californian to amuse yourselves:

http://www.nctimes.com/news/local/wildomar/wildomar-council-to-discuss-park-tax-election/article_02cad293-e833-54cc-99da-3c1a8aa77cd2.html

As a result of her last-minute “brainstorm,” rather than deal with the issue in a timely matter with a properly agendized public hearing, Swanson’s inquiry provoked the city staff to “run around with their hair on fire” in order to meet impossible deadlines.

And since City Staff was left with recommending the resurrection of the Mello Roos/Communities Facilities District (“CFD”) that brought about the defeat of Measured D as recently as June 07, 2011, the City Council leaves little time (three minutes max.) for public input, which might have provoked thoughtful consideration and deliberation of the simple and superior benefits of presenting a non-CFD parcel tax of $28 per year to the voters.

Not to mention a better election cycle than the November 2012 general election.

While I am quoted in the same Californian article as being willing to support a parcel tax (which I am), I don’t have a lot of confidence in the “pro-parks” political theory being bandied about  that the larger voter turnout in the November 2012 election will be able to magically produce the two thirds super-majority required for any tax measure.

Given that the November ballot will contain several unpopular tax initiatives being proposed by our dysfunctional government in Sacramento, the entire array of “anti-tax” activists (think Howard Jarvis and the Tea Party and locally, stopthemoneygrab.com) are also going to be energized, and even a simple parcel tax for a legitimate cause will be simply overwhelmed in the adverse political tsunami.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.


A Simple Parcel Tax Versus….

June 26, 2012

 

…. A  COMMUNITY FACILITIES DISTRICT BUREAUCRACY

When the Wildomar City Council meets on June 27, 2012 to vote on the current staff-recommended Mello Roos/Communities Facilities District (“CFD”) measure, which was already defeated on June 07, 2011, they need to know the differences between their much-beloved CFD and a simple Parcel Tax.

As always, as a public service, Wildomar Magazine provides a comparison of the bureaucratic hierarchy required to implement a CFD, if successful, for a $28 per year assessment for parks and a parcel tax for the same amount.

PARCEL TAX:

The cost of administrating the collection of a parcel tax by the Tax Collector of the County of Riverside would be in the range of 1.5-2 % per year.

COMMUNITY FACILITIES DISTRICT:

The recommended consultant hierarchy for the administration of a Mello Roos/Community Facilities District, is as follows:

  1. Bond counsel
  2. Special tax consultant
  3. Financial advisor/Underwriter
  4. Engineering & Estimating consultant
  5. Appraiser
  6. Absorption analyst
  7. CFD Administrator
  8. Arbitrage/Rebate service provider
  9. Dissemination agent for continuing disclosure
  10. Foreclosure counsel

 I intend to be present at the Special Meeting on Wednesday evening to inquire of  the Wildomar city Council as to why they would be willing to choose a CFD over a simple parcel tax?

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.

All we need is a simple funding mechanism to keep our parks maintained.


If Wildomar Must Have A Park Measure On The November Ballot….

June 25, 2012

 

…. AT LEAST GIVE IT A CHANCE TO SUCCEED…

… by using the simplest, least objectionable funding vehicle to do so.

As you can see from my previous article, the timing behind putting another park measure on the November 2012 election is pure re-election politics.

That being said, if the Wildomar City Council is unwilling to embrace my long-standing suggestion to move City Hall to Marna O’brien Park, which would free up sufficient monies to maintain the park, at the very least, we should utilize the simplest, least expensive funding mechanism available, a parcel tax.

The benefit of a parcel tax is its simplicity and lack of layers of costly consultants to administrate the current Mello Roos/Community Facilities District proposal.

And we would avoid a city-wide stigma that would attach to each of our homes by it’s well-deserved, discredited name, “Mello Roos.”

Since 1983, 54% of proposed parcel taxes, by school districts,  have passed electoral muster, even with the required two thirds “super majority” required in each election.

Please click on the following link, to confirm:

http://ballotpedia.org/wiki/index.php/Parcel_tax_elections_in_California

My favorite example, and the one most closely related to Wildomar, is the June 08, 2010 San Rafael Library, Measure C, which asked voters to approve a measure for $49 per parcel per year to supplement the salaries of their librarians, which passed with a nearly 75% approval in an economic environment comparable to the current economic environment (2010).

And, in addition to the simplicity of the parcel tax, a measure asking for $28 per parcel per year can still be added by the Wildomar City Council to the November 2012 election, as the deadline for filing to do so is August 06, 2012.

Citing a  law firm which specializes in parcel tax issues, the following: “In 2011, 18 of 27 (67%) of school district parcel tax measures were successful. While successful passage of a parcel tax measure takes due diligence and planning, there is still time to pursue a parcel tax election this year. The deadline to place a parcel tax measure on the November 6, 2012 election is August 10, 2012.”  (Thus eliminating any need for further staff impropriety).

In my opinion, putting any tax measure on the November 2012 ballot, where there  is going to be a number of unpopular tax initiatives submitted to the people by state officials, triggering a significant wave of “anti-tax” counter efforts, is politically foolhardy and likely  to end in another defeat for Wildomar’s parks.

But if a certain incumbent needs a parks tax measure to run on for her re-election, she should, at the very least, make it palatable to the voters.

If a simple parcel tax of $28 per year is put on the November 06, 2012 ballot, it will have my support.

Comments could be made to gilrasmussen@gmail.com.


A Desperate Political Gamble…

June 24, 2012

 

…USING TAXPAYER DOLLARS

The Wildomar City Council has chosen to “double down” in a desperate political election gamble to promote the re-election of Wildomar City councilmember Bridgette Moore, by expending taxpayer monies for another park maintenance assessment in order to provide Bridgette Moore with a pro-parks platform for her re-election campaign.

A Special City Council meeting is set for Wednesday, June 27, 2012 to unveil the political work-in-progress that will be mis-portrayed as the opening effort in this campaign, despite the fact that taxpayer money has already been committed to the process without Council authorization after a properly agendized public hearing.

Unfortunately for Bridgette, and the taxpayers of Wildomar, the City Council is resorting to the exact same  Mello Roos/Community Facilities District proposal that they rolled out out in the failed Measure D election of June 07, 2011.

Please click on the following link to review the brief, 22 page City Council agenda packet, as follows (you’ll want to read the entire brief packet for context):

http://cityofwildomar.org/uploads/files/minutes/06-27-12-cap.pdf

There are a number of issues to consider, as follows:

1) Expenditure of $43,000. (See Page 6 to confirm)

After spending almost $100,000 last year for a losing ballot measure, the City Council is going to spend another $43,000 for a re-run of the same election issue.

What has changed in a year? The economy is no better, and probably worse, than it was a year ago. The November 06, 2012 election will have a number of proposed taxes on the ballot, making the prospect of a highly motivated “anti-tax” voter turnout more likely. (Think Wisconsin, San Diego and San Jose election results for comparison of the political environments).

2) Consultant and Legal work is already underway.

Notice, if you will,  on Page 8 of the agenda packet, that preliminary work by the same consultant that worked on last year’s failed election, Webb & Associates, was already completed work on June 15, 2012, in order to meet a June 21, 2012 deadline. In addition, the City Attorney has also completed work necessary to meet the June 21, 2012 deadline.

How is it that the City Manager can authorize preliminary consultant/legal work for an election measure that has never had a properly-agendized public hearing?

Oviedo apparently presumes that the elected officials will ratify his actions?

Either City Manager Frank Oviedo has such a low regard for the deliberative capacity of the current City Council, or he has spoken with enough of them in a “daisy chain” Brown Act violation, that he already knows the outcome of Wednesday night’s special meeting.

3) After-the-fact survey.

One of the silliest aspects of this political theater is the proposed waste of $10,000 for a “survey of the community’s interest for funding parks…. This would provide the City Council with valuable information in order to determine community sentiments toward acceptable uses and funding of the parks.”

The survey is “necessary” because there isn’t sufficient time for another sports league-stacked Blue Ribbon Committee. Since the timeline to be on the November 06, 2012 election requires the City Council to act immediately, establishing the “uses” of the funds, any additional “valuable information” provided by a survey will be “after-the-fact.” And the $10,000 spent for the survey will be utterly wasted.

4) City Manager is engaging in politics.

City Manager Frank Oviedo is, to use a current gambling term, “going all in” in support of this re-election ploy. Using his supposed City Manager authority to authorize consultant/legal work for a November ballot measure prior to a public hearing, is sufficient evidence of his political duplicity.

Oviedo is gambling his professional integrity on the hope that Moore is re-elected to the City Council.

In my opinion, the November 2012 election results notwithstanding, he has bankrupted himself professionally by being complicit in this affair.

5) Desperation politics.

Bridgette Moore has a daunting task in her quest to be re-elected because she has a dismal voting record to defend.

The failure of last year’s Measure D, in my opinion, is directly attributable to her lack of leadership.

Bridgette was primarily responsible for the formation of the Blue Ribbon Committee that foolishly introduced the Mello Roos/Community Facilities District $5.2 million bond proposal into the electoral process, despite warnings that the term “Mello Roos” is lethal to voters. (Please review page 15 to confirm that this is, once again, the same Mello Roos/Community Facilities District as proposed last year).

Whether or not Bridgette Moore is successful in her re-election quest, and whether or not this “new” park funding proposal succeeds, she has corrupted Wildomar’s political process, and it’s professional bureaucracy by her desperation.

Comments can be made to gilrasmussen2012@gmail.com.


On Assignment; Zak Remembers….

June 23, 2012

 

….ACDUTRA AT 32ND STREET

Active Duty for Training (“ACDUTRA”) exemplifies the Navy’s obsession with acronyms.

In 1967, prior to my permanent assignment on active duty, I was ordered to report to the U.S. Navy base in San Diego, 32nd St. for additional training, following boot camp.

Part of the hazing process for new boots entering the fleet, is an initial stint of degrading servitude working in the galley as a “mess cook,” or working on the deck, “chipping paint” from the exterior of the ship to prevent rust.

In my case, I was assigned to the destroyer USS Edwards (DD-950) to chip paint.

Please click on the following link for background:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/USS_Richard_S._Edwards_(DD-950)

I was issued a small hammer and a section of the deck to demonstrate my capabilities for removing the ubiquitous gray paint from the deck of the  ship.

Unbeknownst to this young former boot,  the upper superstructure of modern “tin cans” (the common name for destroyers) was manufactured of aluminum to reduce weight, rather than steel.

As a result of my diligent efforts, I was quickly noticed by the executive officer, who took the opportunity to “chew my *ss” (commonly known as military instruction/criticism), warning me that the sharpness of my hammer strikes could put a hole in the deck of “his” vessel.

I recall thinking, at that point that, if that were true, what would an enemy shell do to “his” ship?

Needless to say, I modified the sharpness of my hammer blows, thus saving a gallant man-o-war from disaster.

And that, to my utter regret, was the primary seafaring experience of my naval career, as my next batch of orders sent me to Naval Station Adak in the far-flung Aleutian Islands (Or, as they say on TV’s reality show,  “Deadliest Catch,” “450 miles due west of Dutch Harbor”) and, eventually, in-country service in Vietnam. 

I had joined the Navy to see the world (and to stay out of the ground-pounding Army), only to become what is commonly known as a “dry-land” sailor.

I’d hoped for at least one assignment to a “tin can” out of Long Beach, my hometown, looking forward to at least one tour of the Western Pacific, including potentially memorable liberty ports, such as Hawaii and Hong Kong, commonly known as a  “WESPAC cruise.”

Alas, the Bureau of Personnel (“BUPERS”) had “other plans.”

Comments can be made to zakturango@excite.com.

Quoting Brother John Lennon, “Life is what happens while you’re busy making “other plans.”

Lesson learned.

Learned early.