The Public Safety Unions are misrepresenting this Tax Increase to residents. VOTE NO ON MEASURE WC! March 3, 2020
The current status of the "West Covina Public Safety Tax Measure" is that the City Council voted on Tuesday, December 3, 2019 to pass a resolution to place the measure on the ballot and accept the signatures gathered as sufficient. The City Council of West Covina has maintained its stance that the sales tax increase is not needed. Mayor Tony Wu has been complaining for years that a sales tax increase is wrong and not needed to solve the cities financial problems.
This measure has been placed on the March 3, 2020 Primary Ballot for all of the registered voters to decide. However, there has been a lot happen since the signatures were gathered and submitted to the County of Los Angeles for verification. In October, the City of West Covina City Council voted 4-1 to approve a Memorandum of Understanding ("MOU") for both the West Covina Police Officers Association (POA) and the West Covina Fire Fighters Association (FFA) to receive a 12% pay increase effective in January 2020. Additionally the POA and FFA will receive an additional raise to place both departments as the third highest paid departments in the San Gabriel Valley (10 Surveyed Cities). Both of those raises and subsequent raises will attribute to about $5-7 Million Dollars and millions more in additional pension liability to the City of West Covina.
Why is this important? The second half of their raise is conditioned on "New Revenue" for the City of West Covina, or as most people understand, the Sales Tax Increase. If this sales tax measure is passed by the voters, nearly all of the anticipated money generated will go completely to raises for existing Police and Fire members. Nothing is slated to be spent to hire additional Police Officers or Fire Fighters. Nothing is slated to be used for improvements to City Buildings or Station Houses. NOTHING will be used for what they claimed it would be used for during the Petition Gathering or even during this campaign. They have already showed that the raises were what they wanted by passing them before the tax measure was even voted on by the voters.
Were you promised a bill of goods to get your signature? Most of you were. The fact that the City Council voted to give such extraordinary raises to two unions that spent tens of thousands to get them elected speaks volumes to the fact that the City Council and the Public Safety Unions DO NOT HAVE THE INTEREST OF THE RESIDENTS IN MIND. They only care about their own pocket books and not about the residents of this city. They claimed they were keeping the money in West Covina and by signing the petition you would keep the AQMD and LA County Fire Department from taking your money. But they were proven to be liars when they learned the AQMD is not allowed to collect sales tax money and the Los Angeles County Fire Department is placing a Parcel Tax ("Property Tax") ballot measure on the March 3, 2020 ballot, but for West Covina residents, they are not a contract city for LA County Fire and therefore will not even be effected by the tax they are putting forth. The deadline has passed for March 2020 and zero measures for for any other taxing authority. Simply Put, the West Covina Police and Fire LIED TO THE RESIDENTS!
Don't fall for dirty politics and the lies from the people who should have the highest of ethical standards. Show them who really runs the City of West Covina, THE RESIDENTS!
Vote NO on Measure WC on March 3, 2020!
December 19, 2019 - The California State Auditor, Elaine Howle, sent a letter to the City Manager of West Covina, David Carmany, indicating the City of West Covina is now undergoing a preliminary state audit after being ranked 17th worst city in the State of California.
The letter (Click Here) goes on to state that the California State Auditor under Government Code section 8546.10 can establish high-risk local governments "that are at high risk for potential of waste, fraud, abuse, and mismanagement, or that have major challenges associated with
their economy, efficiency, or effectiveness."
To the right we have posted a copy of the items the State Auditor has indicated as potential areas of risk. We have been pointing out for some time that the "Pension Obligations" or what is referred to as Unfunded Pension Liability and the "Future Pension Costs" are two of the highest concerns for the City of West Covina. You can see in the graphic shown here from the State Auditor Website) that the City of West Covina is in "High Risk" and with the passing of a 25% pay raise for police and fire unions the Future Pension Costs will increase in a very uncontrollable rate.
There has never been a more important time in the City of West Covina than right now. We must control our spending and ongoing pension costs. This sales tax measure has the potential to bankrupt the city and force the liquidation of city assets, defaulting on bonds and laying off of city personnel. If we default on the bonds that are secured by our city parks, we will be forced to liquidate those assets to satisfy the bond debt. We must VOTE NO on MEASURE WC to try and save the City of West Covina.
We reiterate again, that if a tax measure was presented correctly with all of the money allocated for the payment of the "Pension Obligations" or "Unfunded Pension Liability" we could support that. Many residents could support that type of tax measure. Several residents even asked the City Council to present that type of sales tax, but the City Council did not even allow discussion to be had on the topic. It is time we vote in a new set of council members!!
For a matter of reference, the San Gabriel Valley Tribune has written a couple of articles that may be of importance. See the links below to those articles. (You may need a subscription to the newspaper service to view the articles)
VOTE NO on MEASURE WC! - March 3, 2020
Graphic Credit - California State Auditor Website (Dec 2019)
January 2020 - After a recent visit to the West Covina Police Departments Website, we checked out the RECRUITING page to keep current on the Salary & Benefits Package of our new hires. We were very suprised to see that the WCPD has listed on the website that they will be "adjusted to be in the top three agency’s in the survey city’s by June 2020."
Isn't it interesting that the Police Officers assume this tax measure will pass? They are so confident in this belief that they are promoting something that is not even approved by the voters. In fact, the election does not take place until March 3, 2020.
The Police Union of West Covina does not show how much that raise will actually be. When the adjustment to the "top three agency's" pay level takes place it will equate to a more than 25% pay increase to the pay and benefits. If you have been wondering how accurate we have been portraying the police unions raise approved by the City Council in October 2019, let this be the facts you are looking for.
Measure WC is estimated to bring in about $9,000,000 to the City of West Covina by raising the sales tax percentage to 10.25%. People believe that this will come from people who live outside the City of West Covina. But, do you do your shopping in other cities? Maybe a little for sure, but the vast majority of your shopping is done in your own city. So the claim of this tax being from mostly people outside of West Covina is simply a lie. In fact, the most harshly effected class of people are low-income earners who are already living paycheck to paycheck and the reduction of more money from their paychecks only hurts them more.
Do we need more people to be homeless? That is what this tax can do to the low-income residents of West Covina. Simply put, we will make more people homeless so the Police and Fire Unions can spend more money on lavish homes and vacations. Then we ask the Police and Fire Unions to help us clean up the homeless because we "don't like the look of West Covina with the homeless in it" and residents go out and harass them. Isn't it ironic that the one person who claims to be helping the city rid itself of homeless, supports this tax increase? Exactly, we find it very interesting too.
Let's do what is TRULY RIGHT for WEST COVINA and VOTE NO on MEASURE WC!
Image Credit - www.wcpd.org - January 2020
On August 19, 2019 the West Covina Police Officers Association posted an open letter to the residents of West Covina on their Facebook page. In this letter they have stated some half-truths and political posturing to try and convince residents of West Covina that a sales tax increase is needed. In this rebuttal letter we intend to address the letter and explain what is incorrect and inaccurate so that the voters can be informed and not be bullied into voting more money to the police and fire unions.
It is true that the City of West Covina has had some financial problems and there are many topics on the internet that you can google. Many of those topics date back to when the police and fire unions were forced to cut unneeded overtime and reduce the amount of costs. Both unions continue to have huge overtime costs to the city. As a result, the officers and firefighters average over $250,000/year in total salary and benefits (See TransparentCalifornia.com). The financial problems the City of West Covina is facing are hugely due to the police and fire unions benefits and salary.
We residents know that financial stress in our own households is caused by increasing costs and expenses and we are forced to cut back when those costs continue to climb. You must ask yourself as a voter, do you make over $250.000/year in salary and benefits? Because what the police and fire unions are basically saying is they don’t care about you and your finances, but instead want to make sure they continue to get the huge salaries that they are accustomed to receiving. The average income for a household in West Covina is approximately $69,000/year. Many families do not make that much. Do you think the families that are struggling to make ends meet can afford to give the wealthy police and fire unions more money? That is what they are asking for.
The police officers’ association reference Measure H (Homeless) and indicate how the County of Los Angeles has passed taxes over the years and that money has been given to the county with a low return on the investment sent back to the City of West Covina. Now, we are being asked to impose a sales tax increase on ourselves and hope that our own City Council will provide better insight on the use of that money. But over the last ten years the police officers’ association mentioned we have had financial problems mostly due to overspending by their departments. They want to point out that the bureaucrats and politicians cannot manage your money at the county level and then ask you to trust more bureaucrats and politicians at the city level with your money. If they really wanted to help our city they would work to reduce overtime and stay within the budgets provided by the city council.
Currently Los Angeles County has many cities that have raised their sales tax to the State Cap of 10.25%. All of them have used the same marketing tactic of the “if not us, then they will.” They indicate that the AQMD is trying to pass a tax as well. The AQMD does in fact have a bill in the State Senate that has stalled. The facts of that bill are what is in question, as that bill will increase the cap to allow the AQMD to add their tax to all cities that have increased to the 10.25%. So in reality, if West Covina passes this tax and the AQMD passes their tax, you will be paying 11.25% in sales tax, THE HIGHEST IN THE NATION!!!!!!
It is also mentioned that the money from a sales tax will come mostly from outside people visiting West Covina. We are curious how many of you know of people who come to West Covina to shop? How many people will avoid West Covina to shop once the tax increase goes into effect? How many people will increase on-line shopping? The answer is simple, the sales tax increase will hurt West Covina residents the most and lower income families even more. Why are we trying to hurt the people who need our help the most by making it so difficult for them to continue to be financially stable.
Hidden in the measure that the police and fire unions are trying to pass is a nice reference to ELIMINATING the Finance and Audit Committee. This part of the measure is most troubling as the City of West Covina was requested to create this Audit Committee at the request of the California State Controller’s Office in 2015. The proponents keep telling people that the Audit Committee has no power so it does not matter. Well, I ask you the resident, if the Audit Committee has no power as they say, why are they wanting to eliminate it? That makes zero sense!!!!!
West Covina Police Officers and Fire Fighters are saying they care about West Covina and want to keep the money in West Covina, but neglect to tell you that nearly all of them live outside the city and are expecting a pay increase. So the money will not stay in West Covina, it will go to other cities economies and to people who are already in the top 1% income earners.
Join your neighbors, friends, and fellow community members in helping keep a livable and sustainable city and money in our own pockets instead of the overpaid unions. Please DO NOT SIGN THE PETITION and keep the money in your own pockets. This has nothing to do with public safety and everything to do with their own salaries!!
A West Covina Resident
(Permission is hereby granted to re-post/reprint this letter in its entirety with no editing to any social media platforms, emails, websites and news media as long as they cite this website as the source).
The West Covina Police Officers ("POA") union and the West Covina Fire Fighters ("FFA") union have been campaigning on the idea that the tax measure must pass to "Keep the money in West Covina" but in reality that is nothing more than a fabricated tag line to trick people into voting in favor of this tax measure.
LA County Fire Department was rumored to be placing a sales tax on the March 3, 2020 ballot and the West Covina Police and Fire Unions wanted to "Beat them to the punch" to ensure the money would stay in West Covina. Well, the LA County Fire Department has placed a Parcel Tax ("Property Tax") on the ballot instead, which the residents of West Covina will not be able to vote on since we do not contract with the LA County Fire Department. So this is a complete LIE!
South Coast Air Quality Management District ("SCAQMD" or "AQMD") was also rumored to be placing a tax on the ballot. However, after much research we have learned (and shared on this website) that the AQMD does not have the authority to place a tax on the ballot according to the laws of the State of California. They are trying to get legislation through the state to allow them to place a tax measure on the ballot. However, that will require a lot of lobbying on their to convince our law makers and a Governor to pass and sign this into law. Many people have spoken at West Covina City Council meetings to explain to the City Council that this was not possible and encourage the City Council to send a letter of opposition to the State Legislature, which was approved in October/November by the City Council.
There is not other tax measure on the March 3, 2020 ballot to vote on. Nobody can institute a tax without it going on a ballot for the voters to decide.
The reality is that nothing is to pressing that this poorly written tax measure must be passed at this time. In fact, we encourage a NO vote on Measure WC on March 3, 2020. This would allow the best case scenario. If the City Council wants to properly write a tax measure and present it to the people of West Covina, they could still do this and have plenty of time to place it on the November 2020 ballots.
The facts show that the "Keep it in West Covina" is nothing more than people trying to scare you into passing a measure to give enormous raises to the people who make the most in the city. Why make struggling families struggle more? Why do they want to create homelessness when we already have a very bad homeless problem.
VOTE NO on Measure WC on March 3, 2020!!!
The POA and West Covina Fire Fighters Local 3226 ("WCFA") have been trying to get a sales tax or parcel tax (Property Tax) to be approved by the city council for a couple of years. The last attempt was voted down by the West Covina City Council on August 9, 2018. This prevented a measure from being placed on the November 6, 2018 ballot. Most residents oppose any idea of a tax being added to West Covina to be used by the Police and Fire personal salaries and overtime.
Both unions are justifying the tax as a "Race" to prevent other possible taxing authorities from raising the tax first. They claim that other entities (AQMD, LA County FD, etc.) are going to raise your taxes and "Wouldn't you rather that money go to help West Covina?" To help drive this home they are using banners and marketing with the phrase "Keep our taxes in West Covina" with pictures of a Police K-9 and a Fire Dalmatian. The tag line is then "Protect Paramedic, Police and Fire Services."
The problem with this "Scare Tactic" is that it is not completely accurate. The SCAQMD bill (SB 732) has stalled in the state legislature and the last committee hearing was cancelled at the request of the Bill Author on May 13, 2019. Effectively the bill is not moving forward at this time. Click Here for more info on the current status of the Bill in Sacramento.
If Senate Bill 732 is looking to raise the sales tax, the fact of the matter is the argument of they will take your taxes if West Covina does not, is completely FALSE. If you review the "Senate Committee on Governance and Finance" Report dated March 27, 2019 prepared for the hearing on April 24, 2019, the report states the following "SB 732 allows SCAQMD to add up to an additional 1% rate on top of pre-existing district taxes, of which Los Angeles County has 30. Several cities in Los Angeles County already have 10.25% rates (Burbank, Compton, Cudahy, Culver City, East Lynwood, Glendale, Hawthorne, Huntington Park, Lawndale, Long Beach, Lynwood, Pasadena, Pico Rivera, Pomona, Santa Monica, South Gate), so SB 732 has the potential to increase these rates as high as 11.25%." This quote is found on page 5, section 3. Please feel free to click the link above to review the actual report from the California Legislature Website.
So in reality, the sales tax increase in West Covina WILL NOT PREVENT the Southern California Air Quality Management District from raising the tax rate as well. That is a fact as notated in the report above. Do not be fooled by catchy phrases and political scare tactics that are geared to getting you to raise your own taxes. Join your fellow residents and Vote NO on Measure WC!!
The other item hidden in the Initiative requires the ELIMINATION the "Finance & Audit Committee" that was created in 2015 after the State Audit of West Covina found "...the City of West Covina’s administrative and internal accounting control deficiencies to be serious and pervasive; in effect, controls are non-existent." (Excerpt taken from the report by California State Controller Betty T. Yee's office, provided to the City of West Covina in July 2015). Now the unions want to eliminate that committee.
Instead, they want to create an "Oversight Committee" whereas they will increase the membership from seven members to nine members. While that may sound positive, the change goes deeper. They are asking to appoint three "elected" officials from the city, one police department representative, one fire department representative and four members of the public.
To clarify the change, you will have a nine person committee that has two people who are part of the police and fire unions. Then you have three "elected" officials that get to appoint the remaining four members of the community. That is by and in of itself a cronyism way to make sure that all votes will be in favor of the police and fire personal salaries and benefits.
Currently the Finance & Audit Committee has been questioning many budget practices of the Police and Fire Departments, so it is not a surprise that they want to get rid of those people and stack an "Oversight" committee with people who they can ensure will support their cause. To read more about the Finance & Audit Committee, please visit our "Downloads" & "Videos" pages. There you can link directly to the City of West Covina page that will list all agendas and minutes of the committee. Also, you can view videos related to this topic.
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