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Task Force OKs Sales Tax Increase After Surveys Counted

Based on over 1,500 responses to a recent survey of residents, the Financing City Services Task Force is asking for a sales tax measure on the June ballot.

The results are in from a city survey that gauged respondents’ feelings about service cuts and revenue measures it is proposing for 2012.

After reviewing responses from over 1,500 residents, the Financing City Services Task Force on Wednesday unanimously voted to send a proposal for a half-cent sales tax increase to the Pacifica City Council.

If the council OKs the plan, a simple majority of voters would be needed to approve it on the June ballot.

If passed, the city estimates the tax increase annually could raise over $800,000 in revenue.

“I think the response is kind of mixed, but I think on the whole it was supportive of doing something to try and maintain city services,” said City Manager Stephen Rhodes.

The survey asked residents to rate a series of proposals that included:

  • outsourcing law enforcement with the sheriff’s office
  • reducing senior services
  • raising the sales tax
  • levying a flat parcel tax on property owners, on a five-point scale.

The task force planned to use the results to construct its 2012 budget, in which it must either cut services or increase revenue to fill Pacifica’s budget hole.

The city estimates that at least $3.5 million in service reductions and/or revenue increases are needed over a five-year period, beginning in 2008, to achieve financial stability in Pacifica. 

Results on two proposals for a sales tax increase—one by a full cent and one by a half-cent—were mixed

  • 38.8 percent opposed a one cent increase
  • 8.3 percent somewhat opposed it
  • 33.8 percent supported it
  • 43 percent supported a half-cent increase
  • 17.1 percent somewhat supported the proposal.

That was a green light for the Financing City Services Task Force.

The city estimates that a one-cent increase would raise $1.7 million annually and a half-cent increase would bag $865,000 in revenue each year. 

City staff is also working with the San Mateo County Sheriff’s Office to determine a more precise amount that the city could save by shuttering the .

However, a majority of residents seemed to somewhat oppose or definitely oppose the proposal, with 45.5 percent definitely opposing the proposal and 12 percent somewhat opposing it.

Rhodes said the move to get a more definite dollar amount from the sheriff’s office does not mean they are moving forward with the proposal, but are instead trying to address some of the anonymous comments residents made on their surveys.

“There were lots of comments saying it would be far easier to really evaluate that option if we had some real numbers,” he said.

On the survey, the city estimated that outsourcing law enforcement would save about $1.5 million annually. 

In anonymous comments left by citizens, one said that the proposal was a "Wonderful idea!" while another suggested that the city "make it (the police department) leaner, but don't outsource the entire PD."

An opponent said that the proposal was "Absolutely crazy. Isn't our crime bad enough?"

Many respondents supported eliminating supervisory positions at the city when vacancies occur, with 59.6 percent definitely supporting and 21.7 percent somewhat supporting the proposal.

A majority supported or somewhat supported restructuring and/or increasing the annual cost of a Pacifica business license, which the city estimates would net it over $20,000 a year. 

A majority of residents who took the survey opposed reducing senior programs, with 61.5 percent definitely opposing and 13.5 percent somewhat opposing the proposal. Even more opposed reducing the Meals on Wheels program in town, with 69.8 percent against and 13.5 percent somewhat against.

A slight majority of respondents supported extending the Transient Occupancy Tax, also known as the hotel tax, to vacation rentals in town. 51.8 percent of residents agreed, while 18.2 percent somewhat supported the proposal.

45.3 percent of respondents opposed cutting funding to the , which helps struggling Pacificans with their taxes, financial stability and provides food to families in need, and 15.2 percent somewhat opposed the proposal, making the majority against.

A majority of respondents supported (42.6 percent) or somewhat supported (17.3 percent) a proposal to reduce the amount the city spends to help fund the Pacifica Visitor Center in Rockaway, currently $10,000.

Many also supported (43.1 percent) or somewhat supported (15.5 percent) eliminating the $49,584 the city gives to Pacifica Community Television each year.

Most respondents opposed or somewhat opposed cutting 14 hours a week from local library hours.

Nearly half (48.2 percent) of respondents opposed a flat, $118 a year parcel tax, similar to the measure voters approved for the Pacifica School District that the city estimates would raise $1.2 million a year. 

One respondent who opposed the parcel tax said, "I just can't pay anymore...I have reached my limit."

For more survey results, see the PDF in the gallery to the right. 

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hutch January 31, 2012 at 10:55 PM
Great Camden. I'm assuming you are writing an article about it?
Camden Swita January 31, 2012 at 10:57 PM
@hutch. Yep!
Todd Bray February 01, 2012 at 01:29 AM
Some police department fun facts to absorb... The 2010 compensation data shows W2 information for 55 members of the Department. Of those 55, 4 are managers/supervisors of special programs, 6 are corporals, 8 are sergeants, 3 are captains and of course 1 chief for a total of 22. Of the remaining 33 positions only 19 are police officers with the remaining 14 in dispatch, clerking and evidence handling. 19 indians, 22 chiefs... not much balance there. The average wage per officer was around $110,000, average for corporals was around $130,000 and the average for sergeants was around $145,000.
Josh McFall February 01, 2012 at 05:24 AM
Mr. Bray: I'm delighted that you've accepted Mr. Glasgo's offer to meet and discuss some of the relevant issues. I think it will be an educational and enlightening meeting for you. Since you decided to bring up the issue of chiefs vs. indians (but chose to use data from 2010, despite the fact that we are now in 2012), I will help clarify the issue somewhat. I don't have an org chart handy, so this information is off the top of my head, based on my knowledge of the PD. We currently have: 1 Chief 2 Captains 8 Sergeants 6 Corporals 17 Officers Of those, 2 officers are on either light duty or out on injury. 1 is still in the Field Training Program (meaning he isn't cleared to work without the direct supervision of a Field Training Officer.) So we have, effectively, 14 officers. Of the 14 available, two are assigned as detectives to conduct follow up investigations. That leaves us with 12 officers for patrol duty. You are incorrect in calling a Police Corporal a "chief." If you read their job description, they are generally doing the same work as officers (working a beat and answering calls for service.) As always, Mr. Bray, the Pacifica Police Officers' Association (the employee organization representing Pacifica's line level police officers) is ready to answer any questions you have about our compensation and duties. I can be reached at mcfallj@pacificapoa.org. Best regards, Josh McFall, President PACIFICA POLICE OFFICERS' ASSOCIATION
Josh McFall February 01, 2012 at 05:30 AM
Mr. "Hutch": I would like to thank you for the care and diligence you have shown in educating yourself about Police Department pay and benefits before making public comments. Unfortunately, I cannot do that since you are woefully misinformed. I would like to correct several inaccuracies in your previous statements: Please allow me to preface my comments with this: I represent Pacifica's rank and file officers (classifications of Police Officer and Police Corporal). I cannot speak with assurance about any other classification, since I am not intimately familiar with their respective contracts. #1: Pacifica police officers DO NOT have 100% paid medical, dental, or vision benefits. We receive a set amount that is negotiated with each new contract. That amount is provided in a "cafeteria plan" that allows the employee to choose a unique package of benefits that best suits them and their family. If the cost of their benefits is less than the negotiated amount, they may cash out 50%. If their benefits cost more than the negotiated amount, the employee pays a monthly copay to cover the cost. Our health plans can cover the Employee Only, Employee +1 Dependent, and Employee + Family. While I don't have a cafeteria plan election form in front of me, I believe that almost all of our plans covering an employee + dependent require a copay, and all plays for employees with families require a co-pay. (See Part II)
Josh McFall February 01, 2012 at 05:37 AM
(Part II of my comment above) #2: Pacifica police officers DO NOT have fully paid medical after retirement. In our last contract, we accepted a provision for a Retirement Health Saving Account (RHSA). The RHSA would allow employees to set aside a certain percentage of pre-tax earnings to be used for health care costs after retirement. As of this time, the POA has not elected to use even that provision. So, your statements that we have fully paid health care after retirement for us and our dependents is erroneous. Mr. "Hutch", contrary to your statements above, the POA does NOT want to stifle discussion in public. In fact, we encourage it. As taxpayers and citizens ourselves, we know how important it is to be well informed. However, we do want an opportunity for a full, in-depth discussion without a character limit. That is why we often ask to speak to concerned citizens in person. As you can see, just my few brief remarks tonight required three separate comments, and this would probably be just 2-5 minutes of information if we were speaking face to face. I would encourage you to attend the meeting between Mr. Bray and Mr. Glasgo. If their time does not work for you, I would be happy to arrange a time to sit down with you and answer any questions you have about our work and compensation. I can be reached at mcfallj@pacificapoa.org. Best regards, Josh McFall, President PACIFICA POLICE OFFICERS' ASSOCIATION
Josh McFall February 01, 2012 at 05:49 AM
Mr. "Hutch": Mr. Glasgo is a board member of the Pacifica Police Officers' Association (POA), the employee group that represents Pacifica's rank and file officers and corporals. We generally conduct POA business on our own time (with some exceptions for meeting with City officials to represent employees) and are not paid anything, much less overtime. Further, Mr. Glasgo would like to meet in person because these are important, involved issues that are best discussed without the "character limit" of the comment box. It has nothing to do with us wanting to obfuscate the issues or conceal facts. Quite the contrary, our entire contract and pay scales are posted on the City website for anyone to see, as are our past years salary figures that show the amount of overtime worked. Moreover, in my public postings I have continually invited concerned citizens to contact me with questions and concerns. I feel the POA has done a poor job of interacting with the public, but this is largely because POA board members are also full-time police officers, and we spend most of our time focused on our day jobs -- protecting and serving the people who live, work, and play in Pacifica. Instead of relying on old and/or questionable data, Mr. "Hutch", feel free to e-mail me any time, then fact-check to your heart's content. I can be reached at mcfallj@pacificapoa.org Best regards, Josh McFall, President PACIFICA POLICE OFFICERS' ASSOCIATION
hutch February 01, 2012 at 06:15 AM
Wow, Mr McFall, thank you for giving the perspective of the officers union. I know that it's your job to get the most money and benefits you can for your members. And there's nothing wrong with that. I realize that sometimes means you must put on a front in public in order to place yourself in the best bargaining position. However the statements you made above don't really tell us anything. Can you please let us all know what percent the average officer pays towards their own health care? Their dependents? I hope you can appreciate that most of us in the private workforce do not get wages and benefits comparable to what our public counterparts get these days. In this economy people are losing their houses. I personally have had my pay reduced at least 20% due to the recession. I have a $3000 a year health insurance deductible, and I must pay the entire premium fort my dependents. Most people I know are the same boat. This isn't a case of "haves and have nots" as I've heard. It's a matter of fairness. Our taxes are being raised to unbearable levels while public employee pay and benefits eat up the money needed for services for the poor and elderly. So if you can put some actual numbers out there as to how much employees pay verses how much the city pays it would be more helpful than general statements.
hutch February 01, 2012 at 06:18 AM
And again as I've said several times here, I do appreciate and support all city employees including police, fire, parks and rec. This is not a personal attack on anyone.
Todd Bray February 01, 2012 at 06:33 AM
Dear Mr. McFall, It's nice to see you trying to engage the public rather than berate it as in past post of yours. I'm most interested in hearing what Bill is concerned with. It's a pity you feel the need to correct members of the public for expressing concern regarding the overall payroll issue and it's a greater pity that senior staff has decided to chose our police department this time around as the fall guys for their current tax initiative. I would suggest to you as a fellow union member, IATSE Lc 829, that a scaled wage reduction of one percent for every $10,000 earned by every employee from the city manager right on down the line would be the end of all this self inflicted drama. My intent has been and continues to be to keep everyone employed. It's heart breaking for me to see our public employees willing to throw each other under the bus rather than band together to save each others jobs and careers. I feel the ball is in the court of our employees Mr. McFall. What are you all going to do?
hutch February 01, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Todd, check your profile for a message from me.
Been There February 01, 2012 at 10:21 PM
HUTCH or TODD would either of you take the same pay cut??????????
hutch February 01, 2012 at 11:09 PM
As I said "been" my wages like most people not in a government job has gone down substantially (20%+) in the past few years. I like most pay for almost my entire pension, and a good chunk of healthcare and dependents. When we mortal people retire our social security will be $2,000 a month max, not 90% of my last years pay. But to answer your question, "if I would take the pay cut willingly" of course not. And I don't blame people one bit for not wanting to give these things up. It will be a fight. But in the end we still have no money so it will either be cuts or bankruptcy.
hutch February 01, 2012 at 11:32 PM
Good articles in the Tribune this week. One posting 2011salaries of all the city employees making over $100K. About half (33) listed grossing over $100,000 are police.This is what we need, real information and numbers. Thank you Elaine! Keep it coming.
Todd Bray February 02, 2012 at 12:28 AM
Been, I'm assuming you are a public employee but to answer your direct question yes I have taken similar pay cuts on and off my whole life. The union I'm in is a real life union not a public employee union that must deal with the world economy. We are faced with work going to Canada, Australia and the Europe constantly where wages are lower and benefit/pension cost for employers are zero. While working in Malaysia in 1998 on a show that employed 400 various craftspersons from the west I found it hilarious to listen to the Canadians, Ozzies and Euros complain of "their" work going to the emerging Eastern Block, China and Bollywood. "Your work," I laughed. "Your work is OUR work and now the producers are going to even cheaper labor markets?" I found that very funny, that the people we all complained about taking our work were in turn getting undercut by even cheaper labor if not flat out slave labor. Mind you movie ticket prices continue to rise. None of this is relevant however to Pacifica's unions. Pacifica can't move overseas. A scaled wage reduction isn't a punitive step or an editorial on the wages earned by our employees or their value just a way to keep them all employed. I've been there and done that loads of times. My intent is/was/ and will remain to keep all our employees on the payroll.
Been There February 02, 2012 at 01:08 AM
Then how about some ideas on generating revenue as cuts alone will only be a temporary fix. As when the quarry was to be built or other projects that bring in new revenue year after year. As people want cuts but want to keep the same service this can not happen. If things are to be contracted out with other companies or agencies aren't they in it for profit or to cover all there costs and then there is no accountability to track where they spend our public funds if they are a private business.
hutch February 02, 2012 at 02:51 AM
Top gross 2011 wages from the Tribune. Police sergeant $153,998, $28,365 Police captain $144,748, $28,692 Police officer $122,185, $22,809 Police corporal $143,752, $24,690 Police sergeant $165,985, $28,620 Police sergeant $162,625, $28,903 Police officer $104,634, $22,064 Police sergeant $133,201, $27,125 Police corporal $145,555, $23,747 Police systems specialist $110,674, $10,740 Police captain $168,402, $27,271 Police corporeal $128,424, $23,990 Police sergeant $132,626, $25,080 Police sergeant $157,592, $29,040 Police corporeal $129,950, $23,150 Public safety dispatcher $107,834, $7,525 Police corporeal $137,352, $24,895 Police officer $118,439, $22,107 Police officer $122,888, $22,446 Police officer $116,067, $20,486 Police officer $112,401, $20,389 Police corporeal $121,224, $21,266 Police officer $112,111, $19,886 Police officer $125,076, $21,212 Police officer $124,807, $20,112 Police officer $105,808, $18,843 Police officer $113,796, $18,988 Police officer $112,339, $19,330 Police officer $113,543, $20,229 Police officer $112, 437, $17,446 Police sergeant $168,616, $28,638
hutch February 02, 2012 at 02:53 AM
Police captain $157,513, $34,042 Police sergeant $147,821, $29,040 Police chief $160,384, $34,734 Paramedic coordinator $172,389, $30,022 Fire Captain $133878, $22,138 Deputy fire chief $193,383, $32,871 Paramedic/engineer/EMT $108,426, $19,223 Paramedic/engineer/EMT $112,885, $18,850 Paramedic/engineer/EMT $122,374, $18,734 Paramedic/engineer/EMT $107,815, $16,835 Fire battalion chief $204,744, $12,084 Fire battalion chief $178,921, $24,973 Paramedic, engineer/EMT $101,305, $17,632 Paramedic/engineer/EMT $101,714, $18,865 Fire captain $136,825, $20,899 Fire captain $136,059, $22,183 Paramedic/engineer/EMT $101,388, $17,499 Fire battalion chief $185,387, $16,217 Fire captain $114,889, $20,483 Paramedic/engineer/EMT $113,042, $18,360 Paramedic/engineer/EMT $102,617, $18,402 Fire captain $127,480, $20,361 Paramedic/engineer/EMT $115,404, $18,321 Human resource analyst $104,330, $10,236 Assistant finance director $136,273, $22,232 Finance systems specialist 110,505, $10,669 Finance MIS manager 129,317, $21,157
hutch February 02, 2012 at 02:54 AM
Wastewater assistant superintendent $133,337, $22,206 Public Works supervisor $109,376, $10,814 Associate civil engineer $109,441, $19,544 Wastewater source control inspector $113,729, $10,2114 Associate planner $101,590, $17,202 Associate civil engineer $110,627, $19,544 Public works supervisor $111,689, $10,775 Field services manager $151,691, $24,209 Associate civil engineer $103396, $17,498 Public Works superintendent $126,897, $20,685 Wastewater plant manager $166,635, $24,503 Director of Planning/city planner $144,602, $25,967 Director wastewater/plant operator $140,638, $25,480 Wastewater collections manager $135,022, $23,864 Public works superintendent $162,209, $21,448 Wastewater operator II $107,715, $10,337 Wastewater operator III $142,945, $11,908 Associate civil engineer $109,518, $19,348 Director of Public Works/city engineer $167,920, $30,245 Wastewater operator III $160,704, $10,978 Wastewater operator II $135,616, $10,760 Wastewater laboratory tech $100,033, $8,863
hutch February 02, 2012 at 02:55 AM
Wastewater laboratory supervisor $112,680, $10,763 Fire captain $151,571, $21,726 Wastewater operator II $136,296, $11,149 Wastewater operator III $134,973, $9,993 City clerk/executive assistant $117,102/$19,033 Director of Parks, Beaches and Recreation $148,227, $27,119 Fire battalion chief $204,744 compensation and $12,084 city manager $192,077 compensation, $34,088 pension. Now I know how Josh McFall felt posting all those paragraphs. Well mine has some meat in it at least.
Diet T February 06, 2012 at 03:44 PM
Todd Bray, did you ever have your meeting with Bill Glasgo? I'm sure there are many of us waiting to read, here on The Patch, what you took away from this get-together.
Todd Bray February 06, 2012 at 03:50 PM
I did, Bill and I talked for about an hour. It was very productive.
Diet T February 06, 2012 at 04:28 PM
Is that it?!
Todd Bray February 06, 2012 at 05:12 PM
From me? Yep. Bill asked to talk to me, no the other way around.
hutch February 06, 2012 at 05:13 PM
Camden was meeting with him too.
Peter B. Olinger February 06, 2012 at 08:43 PM
Might want to attend: Financing City Services Task Force Departments - City Manager/City Clerk/Financing City Services Task Force Location: Pacifica Police Station Financing City Services Task Force Meeting Date: 2/7/2012 Time: 6:30 PM - 8:30 PM
Diet T February 06, 2012 at 10:46 PM
I hate to pry, Todd, but did you learn anything that might have changed your position? I don't really care if you spoke. Did you hear anything worth sharing? Were you sworn to secrecy?
Todd Bray February 07, 2012 at 01:53 AM
Diet T, I don't know who you are.
hutch February 08, 2012 at 04:25 PM
Thanks to Therese Dyer the recall effort is underway Please help us get rid of the council members responsible for letting the city fall into "dyer" straights. There will be 3 separate petitions to recall each of the three long time council members. Jim Vreeland in particular has missed 26 meetings but has no problem taking our money. Email Therese and let her know how you can help. They need everything from people willing to put up signs, to gathering signatures or just moral support. theresedyer1932@gmail.com They need help with everything from putting up signs to gathering signatures. Let's do this Pacifica!
hutch April 18, 2012 at 10:27 PM
This was an interesting conversation

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