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Would you support a sales tax increase to fund City projects?

This topic contains 47 replies, has 0 voices, and was last updated by  lunarcrusader 3 years, 12 months ago.

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  • #176727

    EGL Admin
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    The Sacramento Bee had an article today about the various projects proposed in the City of Elk Grove such as the Aquatic Park, soccer fields/sports park, animal shelter, senior center and veterans hall. There is not enough money to pay for all these projects. Would you support a sales tax increase to pay for them? Are there some you would support and not others?

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article43690695.html

    BY CATHY LOCKE
    clocke@sacbee.com
    Elk Grove marked its 15th anniversary of cityhood this year with ambitious plans for the future.

    On the drawing board is an array of public works projects, including a multisport complex, animal shelter and a civic center planned to incorporate an aquatics complex, veterans hall and senior center.

    But the city is struggling to make the projects fit its budget, leading City Council members to call for a community conversation about priorities.

    “We have balls in the air, and we don’t know who is going to catch them,” Councilman Patrick Hume said during a Sept. 23 update on plans for the multisport complex proposed for construction on city-owned property outside city limits on Grant Line Road.

    Mayor Gary Davis suggested asking city voters to approve a sales tax increase to fund projects, and the city has contracted for a survey to gauge community support for such a measure.

    Economic development, Davis said, means investing money to generate revenue. Done right, he said, projects like the sport complex could provide the city with tremendous economic opportunities.

    Players, parents and coaches during the Sept. 23 meeting urged the council to move ahead with a 12- to 16-field multisport complex and community building, saying such a facility is needed to accommodate the 6,000 soccer players in the city. The complex, as proposed, would be among the best in the nation, they said, bringing tournaments and revenue to Elk Grove. But city officials have not determined how to fund the estimated $46 million to $57 million construction cost.

    The council approved an additional $500,000 toward further study and design work. The city is working to annex the property before construction, and staff members said they anticipate seeking bids in fall 2016.

    City Manager Laura Gill informed the council in October that staff members also are re-evaluating plans for the aquatics complex, veterans hall and senior center, all proposed for the new civic center and community park site just east of Big Horn Boulevard and south of Elk Grove Boulevard.

    Some residents complain that projects are progressing too slowly, while others warn against incurring debt and mortgaging the city’s future.

    “It’s like a dog chasing its tail,” June LaVine said of the city’s effort to pursue so many large projects at once. The City Council decided a year ago to establish a local animal shelter, instead of contracting with Sacramento County, as it does now, she said. In October, LaVine launched a petition drive, in the community and online at change.org, urging the council to deliver on its commitment. As of last week, nearly 500 people had signed the online petition.

    “We need a little less talk and a lot more action,” she said.

    City officials said staff members since January have been trying to find a suitable building for a shelter and are investigating the cost and feasibility of constructing a shelter at the city’s corporation yard. In the meantime, the city has set up a GoFundMe page to raise money for the project.

    LaVine said the GoFundMe idea may have been well-intentioned, but it makes the city look silly. In a little over two months, it has generated $265 in donations.

    As for the other projects that have stalled:

    • Aquatics complex: Bids came in nearly $10 million over the $15.4 million budgeted, according to city budget manager Andrew Keys. About $15.3 million will come from community facility district funds and a little more than $100,000 from the parks fee program. The council rejected all bids and staff members are re-evaluating the project.
    • Veterans hall: City staff members reported that the architect has completed construction documents and plans, but with an updated construction cost estimate that “greatly exceeds” the $4.3 million available for construction. Funding for this project comes from parks fees and developer impact fees. A city staff report also noted that the roadway needed to access the veterans hall location was included in the aquatics complex bid, which was rejected. Staff members are working with the architect to reconsider the veterans hall location and design, and to deliver a project within budget.
    • Senior center: A feasibility study is underway, and a public outreach meeting is to be scheduled this fall, followed by presentation of the proposal to the council. The senior center will be considered as part of a larger civic center discussion involving funding priorities, programming and site planning, according to a staff report.

    City spokeswoman Kristyn Nelson said updates on these projects likely will be presented to the council in early December.

    “We have all these things we would like to do, but we don’t have the money to do it … We can’t pursue everything at once,” Councilman Steve Detrick said in an interview.

    The city needs to determine which are the most viable, he said, adding that the aquatics complex probably is the closest to becoming a reality.

    Part of the problem, he said, is that the city is being asked to fill gaps in services that are the purview of other agencies. Those agencies, not the city, receive tax dollars to provide those services, he said. The Cosumnes Community Services District is responsible for parks and recreation in Elk Grove, but it doesn’t have enough soccer fields to meet the demand. The Elk Grove Unified School District has built high schools without swimming pools, so those that have swim or water polo teams use community services district pools or other facilities, Detrick said.

    Although he would have preferred more council discussion before pursuing a survey, Detrick said he thinks voters would support a sales tax increase if they knew it would go toward specific projects.

    The challenge may be coming up with projects that a majority of voters support. Nan Mahon, a member of the city’s Committee for the Arts, said she would favor a sales tax increase if she could be assured a portion would go toward facilities for the arts. With a 160,000 population, Elk Grove ought to have a performing arts center like Harris Center for the Arts in Folsom or Crest Theatre in Sacramento, she said.

    “It seems like this is all for soccer fields and other sports-related venues,” she said. “We need all these things, but not at the exclusion of the arts.”

    Cathy Locke: 916-321-5287, @lockecathy

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/article43690695.html#storylink=cpy

  • #288796

    Aggies49
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    I could deal with the sales tax raise going towards a senior center, veteran center, and the animal shelter. Not too wild about the other proposed projects.

  • #288752

    EGL Admin
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    Here is a link to the petition to get the city to build an animal shelter

    https://www.change.org/p/elk-grove-city-council-elk-grove-needs-an-animal-shelter

  • #288757

    LC
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    No.

    Think auto mall/car tax increase and the loss from non-residents shopping elsewhere (like say, Delta Shores) for major purchases because of the increased tax. I think my projection posted over there several years ago BEFORE they cut back on the civic center was close to $50M. I am kind of shocked anyone thought it could come in at $15M.

    The Veterans Center “greatly exceeded $4.3M?” Really? That’s what a small strip mall could run. Probably closer to $8-$10M all in for the center.

    Screw the arts center. The civic center should be able to accommodate that until it’s a proven entity, which I doubt it would be. Folsom has enough trouble getting paying acts there and that draws from a stronger income area, and that’s part of the college and not a single use complex.

  • #288782

    grouse
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    Answer to the topic question……No way
    As for an animal shelter…Sacramento County has a new and nice shelter minutes from Elk Grove.

  • #288779

    kindrlindr
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    I don’t support any increase in taxes. I believe there is TOO much waste and there are too many poor choices as it is now. There is something wrong with the way things are run already……

  • #288758

    LC
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    This whole thing kind of reminds me of the first city council, where everyone thought the city needed to be self contained without any connection elsewhere. Being an island is fine if you’re willing to pay for it. Most are not, nor should they.

  • #288797

    poker98
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    Im okay with helping the seniors with a center. But that is about it.

  • #288783

    grouse
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    If the seniors need a center then pass the hat. Increases to any taxes are just that
    increases that never go away. Kinda like Jerry’s one time income tax increase debacle.

  • #288759

    LC
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    @grouse 119786 wrote:

    If the seniors need a center then pass the hat. Increases to any taxes are just that
    increases that never go away. Kinda like Jerry’s one time income tax increase debacle.

    Does Elk Grove need two seniors centers?

    I’m a senior, especially if you use the definition in the link of 50 and over. At some point, someone who is completely politically incorrect is going to stand up and tell us seniors to pound sand with our unmitigated wants and demands, as if we “deserve” something because of our age. Pick me!

    I guess i can understand the need for a place for old people to congregate on occasion, but is there a shortage of those in any community? Like there’s no Denny’s? Or special interest/hobby groups? My idea of a “seniors center” was Pidge Georgian’s card room down on J Street. We in our 40s used to hang out with the old guys there on occasion. Creighton Sanders was a regular. We’d spend a couple of hours having lunch, listening to them complain about taxes and prices but all in good fun, and we’d oogle the whores coming down from the Club 400 to work Pidge’s bar. It was actually fun, and no one complained about their bowels or their children or bragged about their grandchildren, like anyone cares but them.

    Seniors need to learn to get out and do stuff, even if they aren’t fully mobile. There’s plenty of funded help for them, OK us, and I’m offended about some people’s entitlement mentality for us to be yet another special interest group/money lobby.

  • #288799

    lunarcrusader
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    I don’t see much benefit at all from the sales tax increase, you may even see a loss in sales for business.

    Is the current senior center full and the city is in need of another center, this would be a good study need the city needs to do.

    If there isn’t enough money to do them all at once then don’t do them all at once. Planning is key, do the one that will benefit first and provide some actual income back to the city and then move on to the next project. Looking at the stalled project, seems like the fault of poor planning and execution.

  • #288798

    zepp
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    I would gladly support a sales tax increase to fund any of those. Anything to make Elk Grove a great place where I can stay long-term. I would especially love the sports complex. It would bring in tons of money- just today the hotels on this part of town were fully booked due to sports events, so I bet this would bring in more hotels and more tax dollars.

  • #288784

    grouse
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    @zepp 119792 wrote:

    I would gladly support a sales tax increase to fund any of those. Anything to make Elk Grove a great place where I can stay long-term. I would especially love the sports complex. It would bring in tons of money- just today the hotels on this part of town were fully booked due to sports events, so I bet this would bring in more hotels and more tax dollars.

    But zzz,
    you can go to the KIng’s arena or to San Fran or take the bullet train to LA.
    And without that tax increase you can afford to pay for all of that

  • #288785

    grouse
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    @lc

    my my my,
    and I thought I was the only left standing.
    but….. I dont like Denny’s coffee

  • #288760

    LC
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    @grouse 119795 wrote:

    @lc

    my my my,
    and I thought I was the only left standing.
    but….. I dont like Denny’s coffee

    OK, then spike your hair, add some color, and hang out at a third wave coffee cafe. If you’re truly a senior, you really won’t give a shit what they think!

  • #288786

    grouse
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    @lc 119796 wrote:

    OK, then spike your hair, add some color, and hang out at a third wave coffee cafe. If you’re truly a senior, you really won’t give a shit what they think!

    The Pal Mal club is where I used to hang out, no spiky allowed there

  • #288761

    LC
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    @grouse 119797 wrote:

    The Pal Mal club is where I used to hang out, no spiky allowed there

    Hard to find something before my time, but you just did it. Used to work at the Pine Cove, so maybe some cred there? 😉

  • #288775

    lizzie
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    I’d support for a Veteran’s shelter that could be combined with Senior center, at least to start with. I also support an animal shelter. Bradshaw is the only shelter that wants to work with the city.

  • #288769

    newmom
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    Nope. The aquatics center and the civic center are not needed. Certainly don’t need an art center.

  • #288781

    grouse
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    @lizzie 119799 wrote:

    I’d support for a Veteran’s shelter that could be combined with Senior center, at least to start with. I also support an animal shelter. Bradshaw is the only shelter that wants to work with the city.

    Don’t need an animal shelter, Bradshaw is ony minutes away.

  • #288787

    grouse
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    @lc 119798 wrote:

    Hard to find something before my time, but you just did it. Used to work at the Pine Cove, so maybe some cred there? 😉

    The Pal Mal had a slate top snooker table and fine slate top pool tables.
    when not there we would go to the 2me or raven, sokels, hilltop, and the pine cove.
    2me was very entertaining place, especially when someone popped
    “New York, New York” by Sinatra on the Juke.

  • #288788

    grouse
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    @newmom 119800 wrote:

    Nope. The aquatics center and the civic center are not needed. Certainly don’t need an art center.

    What’s this, you are agreeing with me this morning.

  • #288777

    norules
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    Heck no. We have too many “ideas”, but no financial thought into these decisions. Sure, let’s build a senior center, build an animal shelter, build acquatic center, build senior center, build civic/art center…uhh, got the money, time, and the need? We are not a city of half a million where we need all these buildings. Think of the future? Sure but let’s think of do we have the money and the need right now?

    Really, EG is not known for it’s art and plays. There is a reason, we are surburbanites. Accept that. We can drive to downtown Sacramento to experience plays and the arts. Save the tax money and drive to downtown Sacramento.

  • #288789

    grouse
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    @norules 119806 wrote:

    Heck no. We have too many “ideas”, but no financial thought into these decisions. Sure, let’s build a senior center, build an animal shelter, build acquatic center, build senior center, build civic/art center…uhh, got the money, time, and the need? We are not a city of half a million where we need all these buildings. Think of the future? Sure but let’s think of do we have the money and the need right now?

    Really, EG is not known for it’s art and plays. There is a reason, we are surburbanites. Accept that. We can drive to downtown Sacramento to experience plays and the arts. Save the tax money and drive to downtown Sacramento.

    Is this what is known as s “no brainer”

  • #288790

    grouse
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    Hey, we do have a Wal-Mart and Costco is on the way.
    what else do you need?
    A “Mortons”?

  • #288762

    LC
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    One reason Folsom, half the size of Elk Grove, has some of the amenities mentioned is that there was always a priority set for multiple use and financial responsibility of these facilities.

    While most people believe there should be a brick wall between the local jurisdictions and the schools districts, the two entities and Los Rios always worked together for facilities. Pools were built adjacent to schools, same with Roseville district’s expansion school in Antelope with a water park and pools next to the high school and playing fields. The Harris Center is part of the Los Rios campus, and has multiple funding sources and uses.

    I believe that Elk Grove should have a good community center. But, it need not be its own island, and should not only house the city offices, but provide a venue for gatherings, addresses, meetings, and even entertainment all under one roof. When you share infrastructure, which is always very costly for public facilities, you open up uses not fiscally possible or prudent with several free standing structures. This is especially viable when the land for the facility was a gift to the city, as is the case for the proposed community center.

  • #288778

    norules
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    @grouse 119807 wrote:

    Is this what is known as s “no brainer”

    Sometimes no brainer needs to be said. ha ha.

    I agree with LC about shared amenities. We are not a large city by any means, why can’t the district and city work together? Is it a case of ego? Or just never talked to each other?

  • #288753

    EGL Admin
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    @grouse 119803 wrote:

    Don’t need an animal shelter, Bradshaw is ony minutes away.

    That shelter is overcrowded. The city needs to do something for its own pets

  • #288763

    LC
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    For 2015, the City of Elk Grove will probably have taxable retail sales volume of just under $2B, $1,900,000,000, using BOE reports. An increase of .25% on the sales tax would yield about $4,750,000 per annum in additional revenue to the city, before any adjustments for sales leakage due to higher transaction taxation. Do you think after say three years that sales tax increase has any chance of being repealed?

    Today, taxable retail sales in Folsom, half the size of Elk Grove, are about 80% of Elk Grove. The City of Sacramento is about triple, and their sales tax is currently 8.5% while most of the county is 8%. Given the disparity of revenue per capita, does it makes sense to increase the sales tax from a competitive standpoint? Would it not be better to encourage the mall completion with fast tracking, which will be a substantial revenue generator?

  • #288774

    violarose
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    No. They can take care of their elderly at home like I did. I want an animal shelter because I think of the animals in need. but no I dont support extra taxes for this city of Elk Grove.

  • #288780

    plasmadrive
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    This city has shown it propensity for wasting our tax money.. why would I want to give them more?

  • #288764

    LC
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    Quick calcs–assuming Elk Grove still collects 1% of sales tax revenue, on buildout the outlet mall should yield just over $3,000,000 per annum to the city.

  • #288791

    grouse
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    @lc 119817 wrote:

    Quick calcs–assuming Elk Grove still collects 1% of sales tax revenue, on buildout the outlet mall should yield just over $3,000,000 per annum to the city.

    I understand your numbers, and you are right, once up the tax will never come down.

  • #288770

    newmom
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    There is NEVER a temporary tax increase. They always become permanent. Always. I remember temporary taxes hitting the entire state after the earthquake hit the Bay Area in 1989. I think there was another after Northridge in 1994. And I have no faith in our city elected officials to spend the money wisely, on the actual projects, or the keep the projects within the cost parameters. We don’t NEED the aquatic center with the stupid water park. We don’t need that ugly civic center that looked like a giant squid and that we paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to have designed by some world renowned designer. How much money has the city paid to Nunez’ group to lobby about a soccer team here in Elk Grove? I also seem to remember some extremely generous compensation packages for city employees and even college classes for our elected officials being paid for.
    Way too much waste, plain and simple.
    Nope. No tax increase. No doubt we can use some of these projects, but that doesn’t mean we need to fund them with a tax increase. Make cuts elsewhere.

  • #288793

    Bainc
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    @lc 119817 wrote:

    Quick calcs–assuming Elk Grove still collects 1% of sales tax revenue, on buildout the outlet mall should yield just over $3,000,000 per annum to the city.

    How much of the retail sales are cannibalization from other Elk Grove retail establishments? For example we shop at the new Walmart instead of the old Walmart but our dollars spent remained unchanged. I’m sure the mall will do well and attract new dollars but the only figure that matters is NET.

  • #288754

    EGL Admin
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    Also another thing to think about is the city will be receiving a larger share of taxes as the revenue neutrality agreement winds down with the county over incorporation. We are in year 15 of a 25 year agreement.

  • #288792

    grouse
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    @EGL Admin 119825 wrote:

    Also another thing to think about is the city will be receiving a larger share of taxes as the revenue neutrality agreement winds down with the county over incorporation. We are in year 15 of a 25 year agreement.

    thanks for reminding me, I had forgot about the old days

  • #288765

    LC
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    @bainc 119824 wrote:

    How much of the retail sales are cannibalization from other Elk Grove retail establishments? For example we shop at the new Walmart instead of the old Walmart but our dollars spent remained unchanged. I’m sure the mall will do well and attract new dollars but the only figure that matters is NET.

    Good question. Using average retail sales psf for similar projects is the only thing we can do at this point, and of course the estimates are just that.

  • #288794

    Bainc
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    Reminds me of our south sac discussion. I remember shopping at the Mervens on Franklin/Florin and Target on Mack. When Mervens and Target opened in EG of course we shopped there and those existing stores didn’t last long. That was back when EG was the county before incorporation.

  • #288766

    LC
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    I don’t think the city has been any more wasteful than neighboring jurisdictions. Sure, we could look at that stupid garden they put in a few years ago that cost $150K or something, but that’s pretty minor. In my recollection, Roseville was the big spender back when they were ramping up. They required gold tinted fire hydrants for awhile, and it was very pricey to do business there. Citrus Heights has spent a LOT on their facilities too. I don’t see any obvious big areas for cuts, but I don’t pay close attention either. The contracting model has definitely saved money, and now it runs quite well.

    Rather than defaulting to the usual, the cuts in this or that, how about growing the revenue? It only takes a peek at the retail sales figures to see how low Elk Grove is per capita compared to our neighbors.

  • #288771

    newmom
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    Well yes, increasing the tax base is an obvious solution. However, many cities, Elk Grove included, have made the mistake of overspending and then approving planning just to increase the tax base and bring more money in. How about we watch what we spend all along, then don’t get in a position to have to approve crappy planning just to bring more crappy retail jobs to bring in more money. We can plan and approve projects for the long term betterment of the city’s residents rather than bringing in money immediately.
    And saying Elk Grove hasn’t been “more” wasteful than other jurisdictions doesn’t mean much, IMO. We are talking government here. Waste is waste and shouldn’t be excused with “Well others wasted money too!”. Remember the huge signs the council put up in rural Elk Grove with their names on it celebrating a road improvement project? Total waste.

  • #288767

    LC
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    Newmom, I don’t know how much experience you’ve had with the local jurisdictions, top down and bottom up, maybe substantial, I don’t know.

    What I’ve found in my almost 40 years in working within them, by necessity, is that the public infrastructure, largely evolved and convoluted from public demands, is by nature inefficient, costly, and wasteful, but to place sole blame on those jurisdictions is highly misdirected.

    We now have public visioning, charrettes, notifications, series’ of workshops and input, for even the most minor projects and requests. We have to endure, as do the jurisdictions, multiple, overreaching checks and balances, reaching out to anyone or any group that has even a remote possibility of claiming stakeholder status.

    The various departments have to respond to errant residents, their abject rudeness and demands, with aplomb, lest the city be accused of “not listening.” I was in Building yesterday, and the counter person was telling a contractor with plans that his client had called multiple times and was “livid” about the approvals taking so long. Looking at the plans and seeing the client name, I instantly understood why, and so would you.

    All this takes time and human resources, and a litany of departmental reviews and approvals. My experience with Elk Grove in recent years is they handle their tasks quickly, they respond cogently, and they process in the most efficient manner they can. It’s a bureaucracy, not a top down marching order from a CEO. Private industry has that luxury; governmental agencies do not.

    Here’s one example, however, of where Elk Grove lags other jurisdictions. Yesterday I applied to the County for a Conditional Use Permit and Design Review. I paid them $2,256. For the same requests in Elk Grove, albeit them slightly more complicated, the fee was $19,500. While the County is mired in layers of staff not seen in Elk Grove, they are acting to help reduce costs for relatively uncontentious requests. I hope EG follows suit. Overall, however, EG is by far the best jurisdiction to work with, as is CCSD for those approvals needed.

  • #288772

    newmom
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    But none of that addresses the waste we see, does it? Just accepting that government, by nature and design, is wasteful doesn’t change it. We shouldn’t be complacent when our city leaders overspend on pie-in-the-sky projects then want us to pay more money to fund them, IMO.

  • #288768

    LC
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    I presented what I believe to be a realistic capsule of where local jurisdictions are, and that largely due to public demand, along with their decision by committee structure, they’re unlikely to become less wasteful or more efficient. Feel free to disagree, but I would not spend too much time suggesting ways to fix it until you truly understand the structure and constraints. You will anyway 😉

  • #288773

    newmom
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    But what does that have to do with an elected official spending hundreds of thousands to lure a major league soccer team here? There was no public input or permitting going on there. Same for the idea of a water park with some pools. That’s what I’m talking about. There is so much waste before things even get to a permitting and/or approval process.

  • #288795

    NishaG41
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    We need more activities for children. There are children everywhere, but not enough venues for them. We have to go to Rancho, Folsom or Roseville, which sucks.

    Even something like Art BEAST, is in Midtown. Why don’t we have a Children’s Museum, a Wacky Tacky or petting zoo? Sac Zoo is awful.

  • #288776

    lizzie
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    A trip to Bradshaw is 27 minutes one way. If Animal control personnel go more than twice a day, that is one hour for a round trip.

  • #288755

    EGL Admin
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    Depends on what part of the city they are in, but it’s still too far and all we are doing is contributing to the overcrowding. We are the second biggest city in the county. I think we need to find a happy medium, maybe find a smaller place for now to use a temporary home or a place to keep some pets part time and try and adopt them out. $10 million is a lot of money to spend and seems to be a crazy price. Find an existing warehouse that is empty and bring in some kennels and use that for the time being. Everything shouldn’t be Go Big or Go Home. I think spending some money on reaching out to the community and offering more free chipping events and clinics is money well spent. If we can get pets back home instead of taking them to the shelter, that would save time and money. If people weren’t so damn lazy less pets would be getting lost without any form of ID. That’s the frustrating part. Every single day we get posts on our FB page, no chip and no ID.

  • #288756

    EGL Admin
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    Earlier the mall was mentioned as a source of sales tax revenue. In the original mall agreement there was an incentive built in so that the city only gets 1/2 of the sales tax until a certain dollar amount is reached. The projection is that could take up to 5 years.

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