Lionel Emde is a Pacifica Riptide correspondent.
The City of Pacifica, once again, engaged in dishonest public noticing of the sewer tax increase. On Tuesday, March 6, the email agenda packet arrived with the sewer tax increase agenda item contained. The staff report stated that the increase was to be 3.4 percent. Then, on Friday morning, a "revised agenda item" arrived stating the real increase to be 11.14 percent!
Now, not being born yesterday, and having gotten over the tooth fairy story a long time ago, I think this was intentional. Why? Well, if you have time to react to such an outrageous increase, you might show up to the council meeting a bit peeved to speak your piece. But this way, there's no time to react. Mighty convenient and, by the way, a long-established pattern with this city government.
There needs to be a thorough vetting of the city's proposed sewer system overhaul. Who is the city's consultant, telling the city what to do? What's the justification for each and every item? Is staffing at the plant ballooning because of the new and fatter budget? How much are employee benefits rising as a result? In last year's budget, sewer employee benefits rose by a far higher percentage than the staffing increases would indicate.
The suspicion I have is that this new tax increase is cover for raising revenues that otherwise the voters would reject. I realize the city is under a consent decree to fix a system it ignored for years. I have read the decree, too. But the trust factor with these folks is gone for me, over and done with.
I hope that voters remember in November who has brought this financial calamity upon us, and make some changes. Many people are struggling, barely getting by, and Councilmember Len Stone is moved to say: "It's very upsetting when rates go up, but I'm excited we're doing the right thing." I can hardly wait for next year's "right thing" on my property tax bill.
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