Saturday, August 12, 2006

Assistant Manager/Finance Director Mini Poll Results

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

This sure will look good on her resume.

Aide Castro said...

I am sorry to inform you that last night your Lynwood City Council voted to increase water fees by 30%. After the first increase it will be followed by another 15%, then 5%, finishing with a final increase of 3%.

The vote was as follows:
Maria Santillan - Yes
Louis Byrd - Yes
Leticia Vasquez - Yes
Alfreddie Johnson - Yes
Fernando Pedroza - No

During public orals I gave all council members a copy of my water bill so that they were able to see in actual dollars how each individual household will be affected. On my bill I gave them an example of how much more I would have to pay. The example I gave was the following:

July bill $84.50 x 30% = $25.35
$25.35 + $84.50 = $109.85 new bill
$109.85 x 15% = $16.48
$16.48 + $109.85 = $126.33
$126.33 x 5% = $6.32
$6.32 + 126.33 = $132.65
$132.65 x 3% = $3.98
$3.98 + $132.65 = $136.63

$84.50 original bill divided by $136.63 final bill after increases gives you a total of 62% increase.

The reasons given by staff and council were that the increases were needed due to reserves being depleted, infrastructure repairs, and to produce revenue for quality of life services, and finally because the bond rating company used, recommended it.

I am not saying an increase is not needed. The metropolitan water district did increase their fees by 3%. However we only purchase 20% of our water from them. That means that 80% of the revenue generated for that percentage can stay in the department. We also need to take in consideration employees. They need a cost of living raise. The water department employees are certified through the state and they need training every so often. I also understand that their medical benefits probably have increased in cost. For that I will justify another 3%. The infrastructure also needs to be invested in, so I'll give them another 3% for that. We must be given an itemized explanation of what each project consist of and how much will it cost. No matter what they claim I'm willing to bet they will not be doing all these repairs immediately or all at once. Last 1% to pad the reserves. The point I am trying to make is that those are the only reasons our revenues can be used for.

Last night the City Manager allowed our Mayor Pro Tem to misinform the audience that these increases were needed for quality of life services and issues. The City Manager clearly knows that the revenues generated from increases on our water can only be used for the water department and nothing else. Yet our council last night voted to approve these increases under the impression that they will be able to allocate some of the revenue in other services. The fact is you can't. The City Manager also advised the council that we may loose our bond rating if these increases aren't done. Wrong, the bond rating company recommended an increase, but they never specified an amount. The key word is recommended. Their is a big difference between you must, and I recommend. As long as we comply with the original guidelines given at the time of application their is no reason to loose our rating. Goes right back to how the City Manager advised the council that we have 10 million in reserves so we don't need to do budget cuts. Yet he failed to mention to the council that although we do have those reserves, they are their to back up our bonds. That was simply a scare tactic in my opinion. The City Manager new that if the council voted against the increase his budget would fall apart. I would Like to know why the City Manager included in his budget the 30% increase? What would he have done if it didn't pass? Why was he so sure? I guess that would explain why he didn't care that the council was not properly informed. His only mission was to get it passed.

Time after time we are asked to pay for prior and new, council and staff mistakes. Mr Byrd made the comment that staff had set up a workshop for the community to voice their concerns and only 11 people showed up. He asked. What happen to the rest of the community? He said he took that as the residents were okay with the increases. Although we all know he's wrong to make this assumption, I really think he was trying to send a message to the community. He's basically saying to us organize and unite to make a difference. The same people that go and talk at every meeting don't make a difference. That tells me simply since the community isn't speaking up, I don't care, I'll just do what I want. Last night our council clearly said we don't care how our community will be affected.

I expected lots more people at council last night. I was disappointed that several people who claim to be leaders and aspire to sit on council were not their. But I was happy to see some new faces in the audience who did go and speak against the increases.

In reviewing the agenda, I also found item number 22 suspicious. It was called Utility Users Tax Matters. Several residents were under the impression council was considering to increase the tax. However in reading the resolution recommended for the item, it states the council is hiring legal representation regarding proposition 218 and other related matters. So I looked up Prop 218. This measure took affect back in 1996 to protect our tax dollars. In other words no taxation with out representation. Proposition 218:
Your right to vote on all local taxes
Proposition 218 gives you the right to vote on all local taxes, and requires taxpayer approval of assessments and property-related fees. Now bureaucrats can't find sneaky ways to raise revenues! Non profit organizations such as Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association go around different cities looking into complaints from residents. Learning all of this, I realized that I don't remember us, the voters ever voting in favor of this Utility Users Tax. All I know is it went from 3% to 6% to 10% were it is now. Back to my point. Is our council in trouble with Jarvis? Why do we need legal representation regarding Prop 218? I want to know what is council trying to hide from us. If I am correct the City of Lynwood would owe their residents lots of money. So as you can see their some sneaky stuff going on. We must keep our eyes open.

This is our city, therefore we must protect our financial interest. I am just one person and I need help from the community. Please write your elected officials and let them know we are not going to put up with the abuse any longer. Speak up people. I beg and implore that we stand up together against the injustice commited.

On a positive note I was very pleased with the new street sweeping contract. The routes were re done and they even included alley clean up. Along with the purchase of two natural powered machines. I also was very happy with the new weed abatment project. Every quarter city employees will be maintaining properties that have not been kept up by their owners. In turn to recoop the money they will be fining and adding liens to the properties to insure repayment. When a lien is on your property anytime you go to refinance or sell, escrow always insures payment of all liens to transfer clean titles. So good job on those two issues.

Although it might seem that I am picking on our City Manager, I would like to clarify that I don't think he's that bad. Like I said in the past he has great ideas. He just needs to be a little more carefull about what he's proposing and how our community is being affected by his recommendations. I feel it is his responsibility to make sure our council is well informed before making any decisions.

Thank You,
Aide Castro

2:10 PM, August 16, 2006