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Yes on Proposition 16: 'Know the Cost to be the Boss'

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Proposition 16 is a straight forward proposition, basically giving the right to determine if local government can spend public money or incur public departments to take over private electric businesses. This issue came about when the legislature passed Assembly Bill 117 back in 2002 after our energy crisis. Citizens had high electric bills with rolling black outs due to out of state energy companies selling electricity to Edison, PG&E and San Diego Gas and Electric. Cities like Riverside and Colton in the Inland Empire were unaffected by this crisis because long ago they created and owned their own utility company.

So after the passage of AB117, local governments were given the right to seek out their own electric company. However, they were instructed to follow certain guidelines: Transparency, conducting a feasibility study, and identifying political and administrative costs associated before it would be approved by the California Public Utility Commission. Some municipalities have thought about it but none have followed through primarily because of the cost associated with the guidelines.

Mind you, if some group approached your city council, itcould sound like a sweet deal but they would be playing with your money before you would know when the reduction in your electric bill would take effect, according to studies in Massachusetts and Ohio. So evidence exists that it could be a good deal for those who might want to jump into that business.

My current concern is with the voters being left out of the equation. There is room for public dollars to find its way into individual pockets during the non-transparency phase of the process. Not saying that any current city council anywhere would do such a thing but you never know about someone who wants to make a name for themselves by pledging to reduce your utility bills, if the city owned its own power plant.

So by passing Proposition 16 you are saying you want to be a major player in knowing what your elected city officials are doing if the issue ever comes up. You will be guaranteeing that everything is going to be fully explained to you ahead of time including cost against further savings and when the savings would kick in.

Being a former employee of Edison Electric Company, I can say without a doubt it would be great to own your own company but you just need to “know the cost to be the boss” as B. B. King said in his song. Vote Yes on 16.

San Bernardino City Should Request An Economic Impact Study On Outside Workers

Last week I suggested a few ideas to the city of San Bernardino about ways they can tackle its $24 million deficit. Well this week I have a follow up idea having to do with people who work in the city not making a financial contribution to the tax base of the city.

I would like for the mayor and common council to request Cal State University San Bernardino or Dr. John Husing do an “economic impact study” of employees who work in thecity but pay no taxes or fees back to the city.

I don’t know all of the things that go into such a study but when you think about the impact a yearly salary of $128,684 a household can have on a community: paying a mortgage, furniture, food, clothing, automobile, city tax, city fees, property tax, making community contributions to non profit groups and other things a citizen does in their community, it has a tremendous impact. Then we have a business that wants to do business in a city, they have to pay a business license fee based on a percentage of their earned revenues annually. I thought about this after a conversation I had with a city employee who said “look I provide you a service of safe protection”. Since they view their employment as providing a service we should and could tax that or charge a fee like we do other businesses.

When you think about it, we have people who pay transient or bed tax because they cost the city while using ourresources of water, electricity, gas, phone, streets and othercity paid services. These outside employees are no different.

Another thing is to re-look at the way we pay publicsafety employees by having their compensation packageregulated by the city charter. When this proposed charter change was put in the charter by the citizens, they had no idea the money would be taken out of the city by the employees. Police officers and firefighters resided in the city as next door neighbors, that is not the case now and the pay was not on par with surrounding cities.

So I am suggesting that the mayor and council request such a study on behalf of the taxpayers in the city.

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