The City Council’s 3/4-cent sales tax proposal bound for the Nov. 5 ballot drew it first serious attack Friday from Dean Andal. He said he was going to do it. His lawyers fired the first volley, appealing to the judge overseeing Stockton’s bankruptcy with this motion for relief from the automatic stay.
Andal’s camp also submitted to the City Clerk’s Office this argument below against the tax, which will appear in ballot pamphlets. The argument isn’t bona fide until the Aug. 16 deadline for filing, but one of the signatories slipped me a copy. I’m passing it along.
Surprise, surprise one of the arguments is pensions, which critics like Andal have used to rail against Stockton for failing to tackle in bankruptcy court. That will likely become an issue City Hall will have to defend between now and Nov. 5. Here’s that argument:
Argument Against Measure A.
Vote No on Measure A. Why trust them this time?
This $28 million a year general tax increase is a blank check to the Stockton City Council. It does not allow the City to exit bankruptcy, will not increase police officer staffing, but will, however, be swallowed up by escalating employee pension costs. Stockton will have the highest sales tax rate in California. It would never expire and never again require voter approval.
The City Council is rushing this measure to the November ballot without a court-approved spending plan. Measure A will not generate enough to resolve the City’s bankruptcy shortfall because they have refused to reform the massive $1.1 billion employee pension liability that continues to grow at a compounded rate.
Because pension costs are cascading out of control, most funds generated by this tax increase will be spent on pension liability – not police officers.
Without legally-binding taxpayer protections, the rest of this tax windfall will likely be spent on non-essential pay raises and restaurant or marina subsidies. All are permissible under Measure A. The City Council even gets to appoint their own oversight committee. It refused a restricted tax where the money was strictly dedicated to hiring more police officers because they know this is not its real purpose.
Each time the voters trusted the City Council to spend new taxes on police we were betrayed. The 1990′s utility tax increase and the Measure W sales tax increase both promised more police officers – but today we have even fewer than then. We did our part, they didn’t do theirs.
This blank check for additional spending is exactly the type of poor financial decision that led to bankruptcy in the first place.
Vote No on Measure A. They can’t be trusted.
DEAN ANDAL DALE FRITCHEN
Businessman Child Protective Services
Certified Public Accountant