Sales-Tax Hike Vote Looms as Redding City Council Mulls Fiscal Emergency Declaration

When it comes to public safety in Redding, there are two options: lower expectations or raise revenues.

Both the City Council and the city manager support the latter option, and using proceeds from a sales-tax hike to make it happen.

At the March 6 City Council meeting, we’ll learn whether voters will get that chance in the June primary or the November general election. Assuming it’s a half-cent tax hike, City Manager Barry Tippin said the extra five months would cost Redding an estimated $3 million to $5 million.

Councilman Adam McElvain will wield the swing vote.

The council held a special meeting Thursday to focus on the public safety situation (some background is available here).

At issue: to place the tax-hike measure on the June ballot, the council needs to declare a fiscal emergency; such a declaration requires a unanimous vote of the council. A general tax hike requires approval from a simple majority of Redding voters; a special tax, dedicated to public safety expenses, requires a two-thirds majority, which is a much higher threshold.

At Thursday’s meeting, McElvain said he does not oppose putting a sales tax measure on the ballot, but “a fiscal emergency is a pill I can’t swallow.” McElvain said he does not want to see Redding suffer the public relations hit such a declaration would cause. “It sends a message of failure,” McElvain said, and it will discourage investment in the city and make it harder to hire police officers and firefighters into lateral positions.

McElvain’s position drew a rather sharp rebuke from Mayor Kristen Schreder. “I think that’s pretty irresponsible, personally” she said of McElvain’s PR concerns. The fiscal emergency is real, she said, and so is the fear and frustration repeatedly expressed by citizens. “This is beyond a public relations problem. It’s a public safety problem,” she said.

During the meeting, Police Chief Roger Moore and Fire Chief Gerry Gray explained their respective dilemmas. In 2007, Redding had 119 sworn officers and 10 community service officers and the average response time was about 8.5 minutes, Moore said. There were 86,000 calls for service.

Ten years later, the city 105 officers and four CSOs, calls increased to almost 100,000 and the response time on high-priority calls (rape, robbery, shots fired, etc.) lengthened to about 14.4 minutes. On any one shift, there are seven officers and one supervisor responsible for the safety of 90,000 people spread over 60 square miles.

Gray said five of the city’s eight engines have two firefighters aboard, “and that’s pretty problematic.” Engines in similar-sized cities are staffed with three firefighters.

During a typical first-alarm fire, Gray’s department sends four engines, a ladder truck and a battalion chief. “We have to pull four districts’ worth of engines because there’re not enough personnel, and that happens 100 to 120 times a year. During those times, the city will rely on delayed responses.”

A two-alarm fire is even worse, Gray said, and leaves a much greater swath of Redding uncovered. Such responses happen about 50 to 60 times a year and last from three to six hours—periods of time when “we would be challenged to put out a dumpster fire.”

Those who spoke at Thursday’s meeting sided with Tippin and council members and said they would support a sales tax hike to beef up police and firefighter ranks and, just as importantly, help Shasta County increase its jail capacity.

Even Dale Ball and Shannon Hicks, who have been frequent council critics, agreed on the need for a tax. “I’m not a big tax guy,” Hicks said, adding that he’s impressed with the work of Redding police who have been “overwhelmed with repeat offenders, and nothing will change until we add additional jail space.”

“I’m far from a tax guy myself,” agreed Ball, but “the only way I see moving forward is spending. You’ve got to pay for public safety.”

Anderson resident and Shasta County Supervisor Les Baugh, who said he was addressing the council as the owner of some Redding commercial property, said he supports a sales tax hike and noted that Anderson’s fortunes have soared after that city’s voters approved a tax hike to support public safety.

“I will gladly shop here and pay the bill,” Baugh said, adding that Anderson’s police force is now at its highest staffing level in the city’s history.

Redding voters soundly defeated Measure D, a proposed half-cent sales tax hike, in November 2016, and many voters said they simply didn’t trust the council to spend the projected $11 million a year only on public safety.

Councilman Brent Weaver said he feels progress and cooperation on the council has helped earn some of that trust back. “Nobody wants a tax, but the public I’m in touch with wants relief from what we’re living with. It’s unconscionable to me that we wouldn’t give the community an opportunity to vote on it.”

Redding will learn more about that vote next month.

Jon Lewis
Jon Lewis is a freelance writer living in Redding. He has more than 30 years experience writing for newspapers and magazines. Contact him at
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67 Responses

  1. Avatar Tim says:

    In 2007 RPD had a staff of 173 and a budget of $21 million. Today it has a staff of 143 and a budget of $29 million. Redding has a projected deficit of $20 million over the upcoming years on top of unfunded liabilities last tallied in 2015 at $341 million (and growing). All of this for a city with a $78 million general fund.

    News flash: an extra $11 million ain’t gonna cut it!

    At best a sales tax would prolong the status quo, but the only real hope for improvement is bankruptcy & negotiating new contracts that don’t involve $187,000 police officers.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      From Wikipedia:

      On May 6, 2008, the (Vallejo) City Council voted 7–0 to file for Chapter 9 bankruptcy, at the time becoming the largest California city to do so. Stephanie Gomes, Vallejo City Councilwoman, largely blames exorbitant salaries and benefits for Vallejo firefighters and police officers. Reportedly, salaries and benefits for public safety workers account for at least 80 percent of Vallejo’s general fund budget.

      On November 1, 2011, a federal judge released Vallejo from bankruptcy after nearly three years. The city is now taking measures to find more revenue, and has already gotten new employee contracts, lowered pension plans for firefighters, increased the amount city staffers add to their health insurance and eliminated minimum staffing requirements for the fire department.

  2. The elephant in the room is clear outlined above. Unless and until the mistaken pension allocations are fixed, Redding will be kicking its fiscal can down the road. I intend if offered to vote for a sales tax increase, but only to save our village from the unintended consequences of bankruptcy. No one ever cites the amount being paid today to those retired and apparently unwilling to help, nor those currently working who feel entitled to life boat seats while Titantic sinks. Budgets are whacked by expenses essentially doing nothing for people who contributed nothing toward their future. The old line about competitive wages and delayed compensation simply does not hold water. Look no further than Anderson to understand. We desperately need compromise because increasing taxes is short term first aid, not a genuine cure.

  3. Avatar Damon Miller says:

    The line about competitive wages especially doesn’t hold water since so many nationwide searches for talent somehow end up selecting the local good ol’ boy applicant. Imagine how fortunate we are to have the absolute best candidates in the nation here the whole time!

  4. Avatar Bob says:

    Ho hum. I have to pay my bills. I’m not allowed to overdraw my checking account. Our government is trillions in debt – (city, county, state & nationally) and they want to raise taxes? Yes, I am naive, let’s vote for more taxes!

  5. Avatar conservative says:

    The raises given after measures D and E were defeated doomed this.

    The very poor can afford to retire in California. Middle class and more should consider moving out of state like Calpers retirees do. The California pension crisis is just one of the many reasons I left California.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      I’m surprised that 85% of Calpers pensioners stay in California, actually. As soon as my wife retires, we’re outta here (I hope).

      My wife more-or-less agrees, with one caveat: If I even mention the possibility of not having a home base, and instead traveling around in an RV full-time, she’s divorcing me.

  6. Avatar Bob Higgins says:

    You stated in the first paragraph there “are only two solutions”.
    NO, there are more. Start with operating the police like a real business (pretty much what it should be) and trim the waste wherever possible. There’s way too much wasted energies, duplication, 3 cop cars to talk to one vagrant, etc. It’s not right. No private business would be run like that (at least not for long….and there’s the problem.

  7. How many of those commenting have rode along with a RPD officer. If you do you’ll get the real picture of what these officers face every shift. You want to be protected, then pony up, we all know nothing comes for free. When people and businesses consider moving here they do check out public safety. And as far as the pension and wages, come on, even those naysayers would want a fair wage and retirement compensation. I suggest the City hire a professional pollster to see how the vote would go, then let them run the campaign to make it work.

    • Avatar conservative says:

      How many RPD retirees 1099s go to out of state addresses?

    • Avatar Tim says:

      I’ve been on ride alongs and know they’ve got a tough job made harder by their Sisyphean struggle to keep incorrigibles behind bars in a catch & release county. But I don’t know many people who think $187,000 is “fair wage and retirement compensation” for a police officer. If police in Los Angeles can get by on a mere $111,000/year, so can officers in Redding.

      • Avatar Misty says:

        Where are you coming up with $187,000? Salary and benefits correct?

        • Avatar Tim says:

          The 187 figure came from dividing the total police budget (~$29 million) by the staff (~155). It is a crude metric, but even so you can see Redding pays way too much for Police protection:



          • Avatar cheyenne says:

            Tim, your figures don’t match the current openings advertised on RPD’s website.
            Entry level full time police officer, $30-$44 an hour.
            Lateral police officer full time, $60K-90K.
            A complete list of career openings and wages is on the RPD website right now. Where do you come up with your figures?

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Apples & oranges, Cheyenne. An officer’s nominal salary is entirely different from what they are ultimately paid, which is entirely different from what it costs to pay them.

            These are the numbers from the cheapest full-time police officer on the city of Redding’s official payroll ( )
            Salary: $65,520
            Overtime: $18,451
            Vacation: $1,266
            Shift Differential: $3,078
            Uniform: $900
            PERS: $14,056
            Health Insurance: $16,603
            Life Insurance: $208
            Long Term disability: $156
            Dependent life insurance: $12

            + Social security / medicare: ~$8,000
            + Worker’s Compensation: ~$8,000

            Incidentally, if you search Transparent California for Redding Police 2017 you’ll see total compensation for the cheapest officer was $133k.

            When Bethel was offering to pay for the NPU for 2 years, RPD disclosed those 4 officers would cost $1.24 million. That works out to $155,000/year per officer.

            The $187k figure, on the other hand, was a crude measurement dividing the total Police budget (a figure which includes building, cars, equipment, etc) by the total number of employees. I just looked up the 2018 budget for Redding, and it is even worse:

            Redding Police:
            $29,800,000 total budget 2018
            143 full time staff
            $208,400 budget per employee

            Chico Police:
            $23,700,000 2017 budget
            142 full-time staff
            $165,700 budget per employee

            Reno Police:
            $62,400,000 2018 budget
            382 full-time staff
            $163,350 budget per employee

            Sacramento Police
            $131,700,000 2018 budget
            1030 full time staff
            $127,864 budget per employee

            $1.4 billion budget
            12,616 staff
            $110,970 budget per employee

            $1.3 billion police budget
            12,766 staff
            $101,833 budget per employee

            $5.6 billion budget
            55,304 staff
            $101,259 budget per employee

            Obviously there are economies of scale, but we’re still paying a lot more than we ought to.

          • Avatar cheyenne says:

            Tim, actually your combining total budget and dividing by number of officers makes perfect sense. But where you use those figures to say officers are overpaid it really shows that Redding spends more on their budget per officer than other communities. To get a true cost analyst of officer cost the whole budget needs to be compared. Comparing costs in small Redding or Chico against large cities, where their buying power is much greater, would be a truer analyst.
            Using SUHSD as an example, our healthcare from the same provider costs us more than school districts further south simply because we had less employees than those districts and less power in negotiating prices. I would say the same for Redding and Chico is probably the case.

          • Avatar Misty says:

            I am not sure about the other cities, but RPD does not have 143 full time officers. That 143 number includes all staff working for the Police Department. The number is actually around 105. I know you are playing with math, but be cautious as people who do not invest in their own research will read what you write and form conclusions. Also, overtime shouldn’t be calculated in average wage. Much of the overtime is due to filling in gaps where other officers have been injured and are on medical leave. Some overtime is paid for by grants (DUI or Cell Phone enforcement) and not by the City. It’s not as easy to generalize on public safety employee salary as it is other city employees. Even as RPD pays very well compared to other cities state and nationwide, it has been and continues to be very difficult to attract lateral officers. The career itself is not as attractive these days due to changing laws, public attitudes and the the constant feeling that their hard work not only goes unappreciated, but that it isn’t making a difference. Who wants a job like that? No many.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Hi Misty,

            Those are indeed staff numbers, not sworn officers. That goes for every department:

            103 sworn officers (84 in the field, 19 in investigations)
            143 total staff
            72% Police

            91 Sworn officers (84 in the field)
            142 total staff (150 including crossing guards)
            64% Police

            753 sworn officers
            1030 total staff
            73% Police

            Los Angeles:
            9,843 sworn officers
            12,616 staff
            78% Police

            12,244 sworn (9,600 in the field)
            14,169 total staff
            86% Police

            New York:
            40,000 sworn
            55,304 staff
            72% Police

            As for Redding, this really tells the tale:
            Net Police Department Personnel Cost 2018: $24,500,000
            Employees: 143
            $171,300 spent per employee – just on personnel

            That number is only going to get worse when the lower CalPers discount rate fully kicks in.

          • Avatar cheyenne says:

            Tim, there is a simple way to decrease CALPERS costs to the city, and other California cities as well. You miss it because you are not involved in CALPERS and seem to have the agenda that bankruptcy is the only cure. Also you don’t pay attention to what I, a CALPERS retiree, have been posting.
            CALPERS pension contributions are 15% of the members wages. All the time I worked for SUHSD I, and others, paid 7.5% and SUHSD paid 7.5%, just like private sector employees paid to SS. Redding, like most CALPERS agencies, paid and are paying, the full 15%. Time for all CALPERS employees to start paying their half. This is being done in other states already. Wyoming, whose state pension fund is in good condition, has started the state employees on a plan to contribute to the pension costs. They started off last year at .05% and will slowly bring it up to the full 7.5%. As one legislator stated it was time for state public employees to contribute to their pension like the private sector does.
            The era of free retirement for public employees is over. If they don’t like it they can quit and go work in the private sector where they will pay 7.5% to SS. I don’t say this as an outsider with an agenda or as someone who has gotten mine and don’t want anyone else to get theirs. I say this as a CALPERS retiree who paid my 7.5% CALPERS share my whole working career for SUHSD.

          • Avatar Tim says:


            Redding police officers already pay 3% to CalPers. Increasing that to 7.5% would not fill in the shortfall.

            Your CalPers rate was 15%. RPD’s rate was 49.5% for 2016-2017 and will be 56.5% for 2018-2019. It will be even higher in 2020. 3% won’t even cover half of that impending increase.

            If you go to transparent California and add up the total compensation of every RPD employee in 2017, you come up with ~$20 million. Yet RPD personnel costs are ~$25 million. That extra $5 million is paying for the pensions of already retired employees (who won’t be paying anything more for their retirement).

            Worse, police/fire added ~$6 million to the existing unfunded liabilities in 2017 — so despite that $5 million payment, liabilities continue to grow! The other city employees added ~$8 million to their unfunded liabilities.

            On top of that, the city of Redding has been taking ~$6 million/year from the electric utility and sticking it in the general fund. This has been illegal since prop 26 in 2010, and the case is scheduled to be heard by the CA supreme court this year. Redding might not only find itself short that $6 million in revenue, but it could actually owe REU rate payers the ~$50 million it has pilfered since 2010.

            So right now the city is running a ~$20 million deficit each year. It is scheduled to run an additional $20 million deficit once the lower CalPers discount rate has been fully stepped into place. That’s $40 million/year. This, mind you, is a city with only a $75 million general fund (one which is already paying $9 million/year just to service debt).

            I see those numbers and I honestly see no way out. $40 million/year is $450/year for every man, woman, & child in Redding. It is $1,120 for every household. And that just maintains the status quo! If you want to build a new jail or add more officers within the existing system, you need even more!

            No marijuana tax is going to achieve that. No sales tax either — especially not with nearly half of households aged 60+

            “The most important thing to do if you find yourself in a hole is to stop digging.” – Warren Buffett

          • Avatar cheyenne says:

            Tim, I don’t know where you get your sorta figures from. CALPERS announced for 2017-2018 employer rates will rise from 13.888% to 15.53% and employee rates from 6% to 6.5%, not even close to your predicted 50%.
            You follow CALPERS news and make sorta guesses because of some special agenda. I follow CALPERS news because I am a CALPERS retiree and voting member.
            That we differ is understandable because I use facts related to my CALPERS experience while you make assumptions that follow your anti CALPERS agenda.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            Cheyenne I’m not making this up. From the city of Redding’s annual report:

            “The City of Redding’s employer contribution to CalPERS continues to increase at a rapid pace. It is anticipated that the CalPERS employer contribution rate for public safety employees will increase from 49.47 percent in Fiscal Year 2016-17 to approximately 51.36 percent in Fiscal Year 2017-18. It is further anticipated that the CalPERS employer contribution rate for public safety employees will increase to approximately 56.56 percent in Fiscal Year 2018-19. The City of Redding’s employer contribution rate for other City employees will increase from approximately 23.63 percent in Fiscal Year 2016-17 to approximately 25.34 percent in Fiscal Year 2017-18. It is anticipated that the CalPERS employer contribution rate for other City employees will increase to approximately 28.7 percent in Fiscal Year 2018-19.

            In December of 2016 CalPERS changed its assumed discount rate (often referred to as the assumed rate of return) from 7.5 percent to 7.0 percent to be phased in over three years beginning July 1, 2018 for public agencies. In addition, beginning with Fiscal Year 2017-18 CalPERS will collect employer contributions toward the plan’s unfunded liability as dollar amounts instead of the prior method of a contribution rate. This change will also cause cost pressure but the change to the assumed discount rate, by itself, will cause an increase in the normal or annual cost and will significantly increase the cost of the unfunded liability. These changes have caused the City’s 10 year plan to be out-of-balance for years three through 10 of the plan. The CalPERS rates provided above for Fiscal Year 2017-18 and Fiscal Year 2018-19 have been projected by City Staff to include the unfunded liability for comparative purposes. The normal or annual cost rates included in the above percentages are as follows. For public safety employees for Fiscal Year 2017-18 the normal cost rate is 19.985 percent and is projected to be 20.981 percent for Fiscal Year 2018-19. The unfunded liability for the Safety Plan is $5,763,309 for Fiscal Year 2017-18 and is projected to be $6,730,478 for Fiscal Year 2018-19. The normal cost rate for other City employees for Fiscal Year 2017-18 is 8.688 percent and is projected to be 9.2004 percent for Fiscal Year 2018-19. The unfunded liability for the Miscellaneous Plan is $7,298,059 for Fiscal Year 2017-18 and is projected to be $8,804,035 for Fiscal Year 2018-19. Pursuant to the current Memoranda of Understandings (MOUs) between the City and both the Redding Peace Officers Association and Redding Police Managers Association – Police employees have agreed to pay 3 percent of the employer’s share of the CalPERS normal cost rate. ”


          • Avatar cheyenne says:

            Tim, clearly Fire and Police are the largest cost, combined 50% of budget. If, and I say if because what I read from CALPERS is different from this assumptions proposed in the budget, that the 50% CALPERS contribution were eliminated this would make police/fire each less than the sanitation dept. Using your Transparent California, which my $12,000 a year is on, a retired sanitation worker for Los Angeles makes twice as much as retired former police chief Blankenship. Hard to accept your claim that RPD is over paid when compared to Los Angeles. But if all CALPERS cities are assuming a 50% increase in CALPERS contributions than CALPERS is doomed and I better find a job to replace my $12,000 a year pension. Perhaps you could furnish a list of all the jobs you said retirees need to take. I need one for a 75 year old who has a pacemaker and uses a walker.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            The contribution rate includes minimum payments toward unfunded liabilities. But, if I understand correctly, they will break it out differently in 2018.

            If you were paid by Shasta Union High School District, I would assume you are under the county’s “miscellaneous” CalPers pension rather than under Redding’s (my understanding is that county property taxes pay for schools). The county’s CalPers pension is 78% funded and is still salvagable.

            When cuts are made to pensions I would hope they cut from the top, or cut progressively from the top, rather than an across the board flat rate. That way someone with a $12,000 pension keeps all or most of it, while someone with a $120,000 pension gets hit hardest by the cuts.

            When the time comes, I hope they cut Social Security benefits in a similar way.

            But for now, I honestly don’t see enough people willing to accept the facts as they are. So I doubt you’ll see a pension cut in your lifetime, which means the cuts will have to be that much more severe in mine…

          • Avatar cheyenne says:

            Maybe Tim is right.
            “CALPERS has failed in its fiduciary responsibility and this poses great risk to cities, our hard working employees and the taxpayers who will ultimately foot the bill for CALPERS failures”. LA Times 4-14-2017.
            I guess the only thing left to say is the last person to leave California turn off the lights.
            Time for me to sign up as a Walmart greeter in Phoenix.

  8. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    “Councilman Adam McElvain will wield the swing vote.”

    Doesn’t that mean that the rest of the council is at 2-2, and he’s the deciding vote? It seems more likely the McElvain will cast the lone dissenting vote. If he’s actually the swing vote, the article would benefit from naming the two council members who are planning to vote against the ballot measure.

    I would have been interested to hear Chief Moore explain why 14% more calls answered by 12% fewer cops resulted in a 70% increase in response time.

    • Avatar Tim says:

      You’re correct that McElvain is the lone dissenting vote rather than a swing vote. The council’s vote needs to be unanimous to put the measure on the ballot for the June primary (when turnout is nearly half that of general elections).

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I guess I skimmed over the line noting that the vote needs to be unanimous. That would make him both the lone dissenting vote and the swing vote by this simple definition:

        Swing vote (n) — a vote that has a decisive influence on the result of an election.

  9. Avatar cheyenne says:

    Redding is no different than any town, county or state in the nation.
    I bought my house in Anderson in 1999 for $90,000, I sold it six years later for $300,000. That reflects the nation in the early 2000s. The economy exploded upwards. Investor money was begging for ideas. College graduates with zero experience were being hired right off the degree line for high salaries and benefits. Contractors could pick and choose what they wanted to work on. Investments were making so much money that CALPERS suspended their donations from public sectors for a couple of years. Public officials, to keep employees from moving to the private sector, were offering higher wages and benefits to attract and keep employees. This was true everywhere.
    Then the correction to an unsustainable economy happened in 2007. Businesses failed and closed or moved to other areas. Public agencies could not close or move when the tax dollars waned, they could only downsize. While many areas have rebounded, though not to the excesses of the boom years, Redding and others have not. When businesses and people leave and are not replaced the only option is to tax the ones remaining more. The only other solution is to attract other businesses to the area.
    Not much help there. Redding will, as a poster constantly posts, have to think outside the box,

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Wow, Congrats on your Impressive home value Gain Cheyenne! You are Correct…Redding Needs to think outside the Box! They had/have the Opportunity to open up Stillwater to Prop 64 Businesses if they can get outside their comfort zones! Hundreds of Jobs….Millions in Tax Revenues etc etc…… Here is what NOT to do if you want to Prosper….see below link.

      Now if only the County could outgrow their Cognitive Dissonance on the topic! Imagine Millions in tax revenues for Jail space….more officers…more jobs….Millions in Tax Revenues did I mention,Millions in tax revenues)…GRANTS from the state to Clean UP those Illegal Grows and Pollution, as a matter of saying Yes instead of NO…..just imagine…..

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        CS — Interesting article about Calaveras County. The YouTube video of the county supervisor touring a permitted and abandoned grow site was pretty damning. My company’s work takes us all over California, including deep into the woods, off-trail, on federal lands. I can tell you this: The less regulated and more illegal the industry is, the deeper into the woods they go, and the greater the environmental damage.

        That said, the conservative politics of rural California counties make such counties ill-suited to regulate this industry—there’s too much hand-wringing about private property rights, and too much aversion to permitting fees and taxes that would allow for stricter code enforcement. I’ve seen some major league marijuana grow environmental shit-shows right here in Shasta County, and very little evidence that the county uses marijuana-derived revenues to do anything about it.

        • Avatar Common Sense says:

          Steve, I have no doubt you have seen some pretty Scary stuff out there in the field! Shasta County has its share of grows out there. There are two different types of Growers. The Nature respecting and Organic guys, few and far in between,and the let’s make some real money-and use every pesticide and fertilizer known to man on it!
          The days of making a lot of money are now over for the growers in the illegal market.
          By saying NO not in my backyard, there is NO state Money to go in and Fix the illegal grows/pollution and clean up. That was one of the benefits to the Prop…say yes….not only do YOU get sales tax money…we get tax money and we set aside a Kitty to help clean up the shit shows!

          By saying NO to 64…There will be NO STATE GRANTS. Yes the Sheriff gets his 350k a year still from the Feds…..but that’s it….ZERO money to Mitigate the abandoned illegal sites…..

          So you are correct in thinking that they don’t use any of that $350k from the Feds for clean up….It’s all about the funding…..of course, they don’t want to give up that $350k Sessions money…..that probably pays for a couple of Deputies and Vehicles etc.

        • Avatar Common Sense says:

          Steve, I don’t think that was a permitted site what so ever….I would bet money that was an Illegal site. The Legal folks wouldn’t do that for many reasons….kind of like a little bird shitting in the nest.

          As the SUP in the video said…legal….Illegal we need to get rid of them ALL….Cognitive Dissonance at its finest right there! He doesn’t know one thing about the plant….its medical benefits or anything of value on the topic. It could be his Wife that dies of Breast Cancer when she could have been saved by this natural medicine.

      • Avatar Marc Carter says:

        Good point. Now if City Council members would only look outside their box, put aside debunked Reefer Madness beliefs for a minute, open the above link and *Read The Entire Article*.

        Of course, I don’t expect they will do any of those things.

  10. Avatar Judy Salter says:

    I Will say to councilman McElvain—we already get bad publicity
    about crime and homelessness. Citing
    of fiscal emergency is not going to make things any worse. Hopefully the passage of the sales tax will improve the image of REDDING!

  11. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    After repeated vehicle break-ins at my office downtown, a few years of daily encounters with strung-out zombies and other disagreeable human flotsam and jetsam, and the defeat of Measure D (last straw), I relocated out of Redding. Not far—just to Palo Cedro—but I know of others who have similarly decided that Redding isn’t serious about improving the situation because preserving the low sales tax rate is the priority, and have taken their businesses elsewhere.

    Perhaps McElvain ought to worry more about retaining the businesses that Redding already has.

  12. R.V. Scheide Jr. R.V. Scheide Jr. says:

    I’m not worried about my public service pension fund, because I don’t have one. But lots a people over there at worry about pension funds, and they’ve been predicting CalPers’ collapse since at least 2007. I can’t tell if they’re right or just cranks, but the idea that public servants with their lavish retirement packages are putting one over on the rest of us is salient around these parts–and easily enough to defeat this proposed sales tax increase if the city doesn’t make a good case for it.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      CalPers is about 70% funded, which isn’t anywhere near the bottom of the barrel when it comes to public pension funding—NJ and KY are around 30% funded. NY is 95%, and Wisconsin and DC are 100%. The average for all of the public pensions in the USA (local, state, federal) is about 68%.

      Verizon, Motorola, General Dynamics, Exxon-Mobile, GE, Dupont, Unisys, Semra Energy, and many other corporate pension funds are more underfunded than CalPers (<70%).

      I read somewhere that CalPers might collapse at some point, but if it does it won't be alone.

      Luckily, Social Security is fully funded through 2034. :::eyeroll:::

      • Avatar Tim says:

        The pension has $992 billion in unfunded liabilities — $77,000 per household. If you assume a rosy investment outlook, that liability drops to a mere $250 billion actuarially. A more conservative investment outlook bumps that up to $500 billion…

        And that is just the pension liability. The unfunded medical liability is another $125-250 billion.

    • Avatar The Old Pretender says:

      After 15 years with the state, I’ll get about $2000/month. Not a golden parachute. I just have to look at the Redding city hall building to know why the city is in the red. Arrogance and stupidity. Lastly, when Redding cops quit wandering between lanes and pulling u-turns without lights and treat other motorists with respect, then maybe I’ll consider them worth any more than they already get. Electricians are in greater danger on the job, so no sympathy there.

  13. Avatar Common Sense says:

    Let’s get “Over” what we look like Adam and roll our sleeves up and get to work! You guys need to look at Costs! You need to Look at Income……you guys need to look at ALL Avenues to allow ALL Businesses to come into our Community and Look at Every Available Option to Generate More Revenues!

    Put the Sales Tax on the Ballots….let the voter decide…..Let the Prop 64 Businesses into Stillwater
    (Still waiting park). Let the Millions in Tax Revenues come in and for God’s sake don’t spend it all when it does!

    The Sky DIDN’T FALL IN COLORADO WITH THE PROP 64 TYPES OF BUSINESSES….They have Jobs….Revenues and next to Nothing Unemployment there! Imagine that!

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      When you change the way you look at things….the things you look at change! Here is what near full Employment looks like-

      Let us learn from those that are much more successful in the Employment and Attracting Employers game.

      A Robust Economy….Imagine That!

  14. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    Could someone help me understand the retirement issue? Is the County giving a high contribution that it eventually can’t cover? If this is the case and if it’s been happening for years, is there a way to overcome the situation? Or is the issue high salaries that require a high County contribution?

    • Avatar Tim says:

      The county is in a similar situation, but not quite as bad.

      City of Redding salaries range from very modest (~$15,000 for a maintenance worker) to mildly extravagant (~$250,000 for the city manager).

      Compensation for an entry level police officer might look like this:
      $75,000 salary
      $30,000 overtime
      $22,000 CalPers
      $11,000 medical benefits
      $8,000 Worker’s Comp
      $8,000 Social Security/medicare

      CalPers contributions are based on the estimates of what kind of return the portfolio managers can achieve. For example, a $72,000/year pension for a retired 50 year old police officer would cost:

      $1.6 million @ 2%
      $1.3 million @ 3.5%
      $900k @ 7%
      $800k @ 8.25%

      2% is about as good as you could get on an annuity over the last few years. Today you might find 3.5%. CalPers claims they’ll achieve 7%. In 1999, when these benefit raises were approved, Calpers claimed they would achieve 8.25%.

      So over that officer’s 32 years of employment (if hired at 18), the city (and/or the officer) needs to come up with $800,000 – $1,600,000 for his pension. That is an average of $25,000-50,000 per year for a salary of $75,000.

      But wait – you can invest that money over the years! So then we need to rely on those same assumptions for rate of return (making those assumptions twice as important).

      2%: $36,000/year contribution
      3.5%: $22,000
      7%: $7,500
      8.25%: $5,100

      That really isn’t too bad as long as you guess the correct rate of return at the start. But if you say you’re going to earn 8.25% and you really earn 2.5% (as CalPers did from 1999-2010), you dig a huge hole and have to work 3x as hard to get out.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        Thanks for that, Tim. I erred when I said “county;” I meant to refer to the city issue. So who has “to work 3x as hard to get out”? Does that mean the city has to raise funds to cover CalPers’ error? Does CalPers then bill the city for additional funds? If CalPers’ error went on for 11 years, does that mean there is a huge deficit that the city has to cover? Seems like CalPers is at fault and should be shouldering this burden.

        • Avatar Tim says:

          Yes, Calpers bills the city when there is a shortfall. While they give the city 30 years to pay it off, these unfunded liabilities are where the bulk of our problems lie.

          If you really can achieve 8.25%, you need only collect $5,100/year to pay for that retirement outlined above. After 10 years the pension will have turned that $51,000 into $79,000, which is on schedule to become $800,000 at retirement. And if you continue to earn 8.25% in retirement, $800,000 will be enough.

          But you have to be really sure of yourself to believe you can obtain those kind of above-average returns for 62 years (and if you’re one of the largest pension funds, like CalPers, you have to be delusional).

          If you earn only 2.5%, that $51,000 turns into just $58,000 – which seems like just a $21,000 shortfall from the expected $79,000. But now you have to question whether 8.25% is likely going forward. If 4% is really what you’ll earn for the next 52 years (22 working, 30 in retirement), you’ll need to start contributing $35,000/year instead of $5,100.

          That really hurts, but we could still handle it for an employee who is going to be working another 20 years. But it is crippling when employees have already retired:

          As of 2015, Redding had 178 working police & firefighters and 259 that had already retired. The payroll for those 178 has to cover not only their shortfall, but the shortfall of the 259 guys who already retired and are no longer paying in.

          Now that $35,000 average pension payment per current employee explodes to $50,000+. In effect, we are paying today for last decade’s police & fire…

      • Avatar cheyenne says:

        Tim, you averaged an 11 year span at 2.5%. In fact there were a couple of years in the early 2000s that CALPERS made so much on their investments that they suspended payments from the members. Instead of setting those suspended payments aside for when times investments weren’t high, many of those public members used that money to raise wages and pensions. One member who did not use that money as extra money was SUHSD. I was a union negotiator on the classified contract and we tried to get SUHSD to use that money for higher wages and pensions and they refused. But the city of Redding and others used that investment money for higher wages and pensions.
        And CALPERS has made a lot of changes to their retirement payouts which is improving their portfolio. Part of those changes are looking at some of the Political Correct investments such as Tobacco stocks for better returns. As I vote on the board members I look at who will treat CALPERS as a retirement investment fund and not a political weapon. California drives the world’s economy and it’s pension funds are a lot safer than other funds, public and private. Despite the naysayers CALPERS is safe. The problems lie with certain cities that can’t manage their own budget and then blame CALPERS.

        • Avatar Tim says:

          You’re absolutely right Cheyenne, CalPers has had a number of years with tremendous returns. The problem is when it does really well for a few years in a row (like the late 90s) and people get the notion that it can do that forever and start changing plans…

          Year______CalPers___S&P 500

          The other problem is that as a fund grows larger, it becomes harder and harder to post above average returns. 25 years ago if CalPers bet big on a small company and that company doubled in size, CalPers would post a huge profit for the year. Now it wouldn’t even move the needle.

          If you grow large enough, you become the average (which begs the question, why are we paying a team of high-priced investment professionals if they can’t beat the S&P500 index?). Ultimately, if you grow as big as the entire US economy, you would grow at the same rate as US GDP (~3%).

          The only thing worse than getting big, is getting big and further limiting your options by investing only in politically correct (or, more precisely, Democrat-approved) companies.

          • Avatar Tim says:

            15 year annualized return:
            CalPers: 7%
            S&P 500: 10%

            10 year annualized return:
            CalPers: 2%
            S&P 500: 9%

            5 year annualized return:
            CalPers: 10%
            S&P 500: 16%

  15. Avatar Dick says:

    Although Chief Gerry Gray always cites responding to fires the reality is that the vast majority of fire department responses are to medical calls that are also attended by ambulance paramedics.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Could the fire department turn over the ambulance calls to Mercy or Shasta Regional and get out of the EMS business thereby making fire calls just for fires? Or are ambulance calls lucrative?

  16. Avatar cheyenne says:

    The Bloomberg Mayor’s Challenge announced their 35 finalists. Cheyenne from the least populous state and Vallejo from the most populous state made the 35. Cheyenne’s Fight The Blight and Vallejo’s Infrastructure Repair plans will be given $100,000, like all finalists, and six months to advance their plans and resubmit their findings for the announcement of the winner and three runner ups. Competing against the likes of Boston, Austin and Los Angeles the two mayors have little hope to win but as both mayors state this puts their small cities on the national stage where they will get noticed for their successes. Redding needs to be recognized on the national stage for their successes. Did Redding submit an application?

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Regarding Vallejo, see my reply to Tim at the top of the thread of comments. That $100k of seed money could result in $1 million (finalist) to $5m (grand prize) in revenue from Bloomberg.

      The city needs $1 billion in critical infrastructure improvements. The finalist prize is 1/100 of that.

      • Avatar cheyenne says:

        At least Vallejo is trying something. It seems your answer to Redding’s woes is to move out of the city.

  17. Avatar Mike Jones says:

    fact # 1. The City has failed to pass tax increases three times out of three attempts.

    fact# 2. It’s generally conceded that the citizenry has not trusted the City with the money.

    fact# 3. The City has never adopted a “Code of Ethics” nor seated an Ethics Commission.

    Conclusion: Do you think that there is a connection here? And, if so, wouldn’t it seem logical to address the trust issue (the root problem) before trying a fourth time? Shouldn’t we demand that an independent, well selected, citizen commission be appointed to assure us of compliance with the dictates of integrity before any “so-called emergency” measure is enacted?

  18. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    Your “fact #2” isn’t a fact. It’s an opinion.

    Your “Conclusion” isn’t a conclusion. It’s a series of rhetorical questions.

    What exactly does “Assure us of compliance with the dictates of integrity” even mean? What powers of enforcement would be granted to the “well-selected citizen commission, ” and who would select these people? We have regular elections to select city council members—what higher form of accountability is there than the ability to vote someone out of office? As scantly described, your proposal could easily be viewed as a scheme to do an end-run around the voters by stocking some all-powerful good old boys’ commission with Chamber of Commerce types.

  19. Avatar Semi-Retired says:

    The tax increase will not keep “catch and release” criminals off the street. As long as the AB 109 and all the other early release criminals are back on the street hours after being arrested, funding more police will only do one thing: spend more money! With no positive results.
    If the city wants to increase taxes for public safety and they want to have it voted in they need a specific plan outlined that addresses all of the contributing factors and a resolution for each one, and a line by line analysis of how each dollar will be spent. Simply putting additional funds into the general fund will not work.
    In last week’s discussion someone (I think it was Tim), talked about the jail space (total number of beds) currently available in Redding, the average per capita space needs and how that compares to Redding.
    Until there is enough available space and teeth in the law to keep these criminals incarcerated, funding more police is a waste of valuable funds. Who would vote for that???
    Of course the mentally ill and homeless are another part of the equation.
    Folks, this is a complex social problem it is going to take a well thought out plan that addresses all of the factors to solve.

  20. Avatar James says:

    I did not read all the comments but from the ones I read no one is talking about California not building prisons instead they are filling our jails with people that should be in state prisons. Changing this would allow counties to fill their jails with these people the police deal with every day repeatedly. The police are frustrated that the courts just bounce them back on the street because the jails are full. This would cut down on the number of calls the police respond to daily.

  21. Avatar name says:

    That was a great breakdown of the Calpers situation by Tim above. It almost should be a stand-alone article on here. Thank you Tim, for the details and examples.

    Out of California’s 482 cities, ~451 are part of CalPERS, and will likely have to raise sales taxes anyway in a few years to fund the State retirement plan.

  22. Avatar Tim says:

    Here is the actual breakdown of pay (overtime, shift differential, educational incentives, retirement, healthcare, etc):

    • Avatar Richard Christoph says:


      Thanks for the link. The retirement and health insurance costs are eye-openers.

  23. Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

    This is in response to Cheyenne’s post above regarding CalPERS contributions. How simple!! I am both a CalPERS and Social Security recipient. Having paid into Social Security for more years than I care to remember, I would have been happy to pay a share of CalPERS also. Those who make the rules regarding contributions need to wake up. Public employees and elected officials need to pay their share just as private-sector employees do so that the public trough doesn’t go dry.