The end of Fullerton’s Redevelopment Agency left Fullerton taxpayers with a $500-million debt. The bulk of the debt is interest owed on bonds that were borrowed to fund “affordable housing” projects.
Add to that and the current City Council passed a two-year budget with a $8-MILLION gap that, according to city staff, was to be mitigated through labor negotiations. The reality was that labor negotiations only saved tax payers just $1.67-million. Where will the other $6,330,000 come from?
Since the 1960s the City has been skimming funds from the Water Fund. In 1970, the City Council chose to skim 10% of the total revenue from all water sales. So, as rates went up, so did the profitability. The money was quietly slipped into the City’s General Fund which covers employee salaries, benefits, and pension payments to CalPERS.
In 1997 Proposition 218 became the law of the land. It meant that the City had to get voter approval for the blanket 10% water tax. The City failed to get voter approval and at the May 23, 2011 Water Rate Study Ad Hoc meeting which the City Council had appointed me to, I asked City staff why there was a tax on water sales and why not remove it. The City’s official response:
This would place a burden on the General Fund, so the problem would just be moved from one fund to another. The franchise tax fee is 11% of the operating costs. It is an in-lieu franchise fee property tax. It is not for profit, but to take care of City functions that the water company requires from the City.
And at the same meeting, when pressed by another member to explain where the water tax money went, the official response was that “It goes into the General Fund and is applied equally across the board.” This includes pensions and salaries.
The admission by City Staff at the May 23, 2011 public meeting that the City is applying a blanket tax on all water is a slap in the face to rate payers and a violation of Prop 218.
Public safety is a core function of government. Our Police Department has had a rash of bad employees turn up recently. Even before Kelly Thomas, a mentally ill homeless man, was beaten to death by Fullerton police officers, the Department has had one after the other bad officer in the news.
Police Employees Punished, Fired or Arrested since 2005
- John Cross – Caught on tape beating suspect for playing music too loud
- Gregg Nowling – Caught on tape beating suspect for playing music too loud
- Albert Rincon – “Alleged” sexual assaults on female “suspects”
- Todd Major –Stealing City property to pay for drug habit
- Kelly Majia – Caught on tape stealing an iPad at Miami International Airport
- CaryTong – Beating a suspect and stealing money
- Manuel Ramos – Charged with the murdering Kelly Thomas under the color of authority
- Jay Cicinelli – Charged in the killing of Kelly Thomas
- April Baughman – Charged with stealing money from the Department’s property room
- Vincent Mater – Charged with destroying evidence related to the death of an FPD jail inmate
The numerous substantiated allegations of police department misconduct and corruption have broken the public’s trust in our law enforcement. We must restore trust.
It’s a big word with many meanings. To me, our infrastructure includes the streets, curbs, sidewalks, storm drains, sewers, water lines, street lighting, etc.
You need not travel far to see and experience just how bad Fullerton’s infrastructure has become.
Compounding the problem our elected representatives have prioritize infrastructure spending as follows:
- Fire & Police Projects (City spent $60,000 on an electric target retrieval system for the gun range)
- Redevelopment Projects (left us with $500-MILLION debt)
- Parks Projects
- Facility Capital Repairs (like $183,000 to replace the gate at the City Yard & $50,000 for “window coverings” at the City Yard)
- Arterial Street Repair
- Residential Street Repair
- Airport Projects
You can see just how seriously our current leadership has taken your complaints about the streets, the curbs, and sidewalks. The only thing lower on the list is the airport.
Our current 400-year cycle of water line replacement is about 350 years of wishful thinking. We need to align our priorities to reflect the basic services necessary for a city to function.
The mismanagement of our infrastructure reflects the character of our elected representatives.