Rialto City Council delays utility tax ballot measure
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10:00 PM PDT on Tuesday, June 19, 2007
A perplexed Rialto City Council agreed Tuesday to hold off on putting the city's utility users tax on the November ballot after a handful of residents expressed concern at extending the tax, saying there was not enough information for them to see how their money has been spent thus far.
The council was reviewing whether to call a special election so residents could vote on extending the tax until June 2018. It was being considered because the tax is set to expire June 2008.
But many of the residents present said 10 years is too long of an extension and added that they are unclear on how the money is being spent.
Toby Polinger, of Rialto, said he wants a clearer picture of how money is being spent because he has not seen any documents outlining expenditures.
"I don't doubt there are reports out there that show it," he said. "I just haven't seen them."
City Administrator Henry Garcia said the money is audited each year and each dollar is accounted for. Several council members said there have been community meetings, although poorly attended, where the use of the money has been explained.
To the residents who requested that the tax be lowered, Garcia said there is no way it could be done.
"It cannot be less than 8 percent under any circumstance," he said. "In order for us to restore the Police Department, sustain the enormous growth in our city and ensure capable funding revenue, it's important this moves forward."
The residents' questions on how the money is spent showed little progress has been made in gaining people's trust, Garcia said.
"If in 36 months, with all we have done to keep the community informed and rebuild, there is doubt, we might as well just wait and let" the tax expire, he said.
Councilman Joe Baca Jr. said he wants to explore the option of putting the tax on the February ballot, although the possibility of doing that still has to be determined.
Residents first voted on the tax in 2003 because there was not enough money in the city's general fund to provide quality services despite eliminating 40 positions from the city's work force, records show. It was approved by five votes.
The 8 percent tax, which applies to all utilities and is levied on every nonexempt resident and business in Rialto, represents nearly one-fourth of the city's general fund, records show. Exceptions are allowed for people age 65 and older and for households that qualify as very low income
"As we stand today, it's a critical revenue source that is being depended upon by the Police Department and Fire Department," Assistant City Manager Kirby Warner said.
Because new technology made it possible for people to avoid the utility tax on their home phone lines by using Internet-based phone service, a broader, more comprehensive definition of telephone communication that is taxable will be included, records show.
City Clerk Barbara McGee said the cost of a November election would be clearer in July, when other cities that will have something on the ballot and will share the cost of the election with Rialto will have filed the required paperwork.
A special election can cost from $30,000 to $100,000, she said.
If the tax is put on the February ballot, it will still be considered a special election, and the cost would be nearly identical, she said.
More discussion on when to put the matter before the voters will be scheduled in the coming weeks.
Reach Massiel Ladrón De Guevara at 909-806-3054 or mdeguevara@PE.com
BS Ranch Perspective
The Rialto City Council is going to put off the Thought of a Special Election right now? I guess that there was to much publicity for this meeting and even thought there was not that many people there at the meeting the Council felt that there was way to many people there to make the Vote Public! The only Voice of Reason again was that of Joe Baca Jr. Asking to look into the possiblity of putting the speicial Election of the City's Utility Tax on Febuary's Ballot to try and save the City some money, Which Makes a whole lot of sense!! Since there has been a whole lot of money that has been waised over the last 10 years!!
Let me see, The City Council Voted to close the Doors on their own Police Department, Then spent a whole lot of money trying to keep their decision to Contract with the Sheriff Department, there is not a anything know or said if the City Council spent money to the San Bernardino Sheriff Department in their Planning to Bring the Rialto Police into their fold!
The Rialto City Council looked at the 3%@50 Retirement plan and said that the Sheriff Department had that retirement plan, so they figured that they would save money and contract with them. Rialto City Council didn't realize that you get what you pay for and there was a great deal of people that came to speak on behalf of that. Adelanto's Crime Rate Doubled in almost every catagory, Schedule One Felonies, Schedule Two Felonies and all Misdemeanors. The City Council was crazy for even thinking about this fact, not only were they willing to do this, but they were willing to fight to keep the contract. Which might mean that there was some kind of penalty for the City of Rialto backing out of the Contract with the Sheriff's Department!
The City Council would have had to let the public know if there was some kind of penalty for not signing the contract when we were so close to signing and didn't due to the pressure brought from the Citizens that live in Rialto, and wanted their Law Enforcement Not to change, after so many years. The fight brought by the Citizens of Rialto, was so powerful, that the Rialto City Council had to sit up straight and take notice and not just read the minutes of what they had but vote the petition into LAW! Especially after their delay tactic was proven to be an Idiot move by the City Attorny, Owen, (whom should find another job either in another city or actually being an attorney for clients instead of one client, the City).
Again, I am asking if the City's Administrator is representing the People of Rialto, The reason that I ask this is that he gets this Utility Tax voted in 10 years ago, and and the then they try to close the doors on the Police Department, instead of embracing what they have in a city and building from there. They could have had the 3%@50 Retirement plan, instead The City Administrator, took the oppertunity to push the Police Department down when the fight began between the Sheriff Contract and Police Department. The Council was shown plans for and Purchased over $10Million (Ten Million Dollars) for Fire Department equipment, not only that but the Fire department and Maintenance got the Raises and Employee Contracts that they wanted, when the Police Department got NOTHING, until they settled the battle of the Police/Sheriff Contract Negotiation situation. When it was found that the Sheriff's Department was not going to be the Law Enforcement Agency for the City of Rialto and the Police Department was going to stay, and all would be well at Rialto City. The only thing was that they needed to get rid of the Police Chief at that time and the "Under Chief" to clean up the corruption within the Department!
When it was time that they sat down and started to Negotiate the Contract for the RPBA (Rialto Police Benefit Association) The first three contracts were not anywhere near what the City promised and or Said that they were going to give in good faith to the Police Department at the time that the contract was negotiated that was the problem because they were backed away from the table several times, all because the City's Negotiator kept pulling away the stuff that was promised by the City Council. Since the City Council was not there they didn't have to answer to the claims of the lies that were being told. It was a great tactic at that time.
When they finally got a contact that they both could agree to it was Crackers and Crumbs of what they should have gotten in respect to what they were promised. The City Council had spent so much money on the Fire Departments Equipment, that when it came time to Purchase Equipment for the Police Department, they could not and almost didn't have the money for the Police Units, and the Light Bars, and Unitrol Box's etc etc... At the time that they signed the Police Department's Contract, The Police Department had a Fleet of Police Cars that were well over used with some that had close to two hundred miles on them, the break off before they change them out to a new car was at 90, to 120,000 Miles now. I believe that was the miles that it was at when my accident had occurred, simply because the cars were lasting longer. They were taken out of patrol at 70,000 to 80,000 and then were dressed up for an Law Enforcement Tech, or a Volunteer, etc etc... some after that even were used in the Building Maintenance Department etc etc... I guess they go all over the city when they are done. However this time the city didn't spend any money on any replacement vehicles.
The City Administrator, and some on the City Council wanted to keep the Officers in the Patrol Units with no Relief in sight, They Kept the Officers in their broken down falling apart Patrol Cars, and what happened was that they kept arresting people and the Crime Rate Dropped in Rialto, Due to the Hard Work that they did from the cars that were breaking down and not running right, They would spend the beginning of the shift getting their Unit running Right!!
Now they are running on new cars, they have a new Chief, Mark Kling, who the RPBA has given approval and Respect to. I have met him once and he has been really nice, Personable, he is a really nice guy!
The Police Department is on the way to recovery, however the City Council has been the one that has brought a little bit of sabotage to their own budget, and now they want to extend the Money, so the Rialto City Council will try to correct the problems that they have made in the previous Council. Surely, you cannot blame Joe Baca Jr. for the problems of the City Council in the past!!
I hope that they Do NOT GET THE TAX EXTENSION!!
The City Council pays a wage to Two People that are getting close to $1.75 Million dollars in Annual wages, That was about half as much in the first year that the Sheriff's Department was going to charge for Law Enforcement. So that is a Subsequent amount, and it is a pretty good amount that could be applied towards a 3%@50 Retirement plan for the City of Rialto's Employee's, Now if they get this Retirement in their first year ten the Utility Tax might be something that would be a Necessary, however again Some of the Salaries of upper management has to come down..