Readers comments 4-8-16
Police station funding
I am pleased the COURIER is covering the meetings of the city’s ad hoc committee on the police station in some detail, but I am concerned that an important distinction between general obligation (GO) bonds and a parcel tax was not clear in last week’s article on March 25.
As the article indicated, figures vary depending on the amount borrowed, the term chosen and the financing method selected. Once the amount and the term are specified, using a single figure to represent what a homeowner would pay with a parcel tax is fair, since it’s the same for each parcel.
A $200,000 home and a $2 million home pay the same—$183 annually to borrow $30 million for 30 years. However, if the funding mechanism is a GO bond, a homeowner’s payment would vary with the value of the property, not just with the size and term of the loan.
Saying the cost would be “$205 annually on a $30 million bond” as the COURIER article does is misleading. For a home valued at $200,000, the annual assessment would be about $78, but for a $2 million home it would be about $780 ($39 for each $100,000 in assessed value). Saying a typical homeowner would pay $205 annually hardly conveys the same information.
The annual debt service cost also varies with the funding mechanism, e.g., $1.65 million for a GO bond and $1.92 million for a parcel tax for $30 million over 30 years, a difference of $270,000 in one year.
Keeping all these figures in mind is clearly not easy, but failing to note significant differences can lead to misunderstandings and inappropriate decisions.
Over the past couple months I’ve attended all three meetings of the Police Station Ad Hoc Committee. At this point, it seems very few committee members know what Claremont voters will support, or even care.
The discussion has been focused primarily on what the police department or the city administration wants. It is time for Claremont residents to voice their opinions and let the committee and our elected officials know what we are willing to spend on this new facility.
During public comment at the second meeting, I told the committee I would support the new proposal only if it met my 20-20-20 rule. The new building should not be larger than 20,000 square feet, cost no more than $20 million and be repaid over no more than 20 years.
A 20,000-square-foot building is twice the size of the current building and could be built at the current police station site. No one can argue in good faith that a building larger than that is needed. The population of the city has increased by only 40 percent since 1972 and it certainly won’t increase much more in the future because we have nowhere to grow!
Based on his own analysis, Ludd Trozpek suggested at that same meeting that a new building should cost from $17 to $24 million—$17 million for a bare-bones, only-the-necessities building and $24 million for an all-the-bells-and-whistles building.
A $20 million budget would allow both the police department and the community to decide what add-ons are most important but limit the size and scope of the project.
The current police station was completed in 1972 and financed over 25 years. This means that every resident who moved to Claremont after 1997, including myself, has enjoyed a free lunch with respect to paying their fair share for police facilities.
Every debt proposal put forth by the city manager’s office has a repayment period of 30 years. Nowadays, it always seems to be the case that elected officials want to push current costs off to our children. Yes, this approach is less expensive on an annual basis and, thus, more palatable to voters but it is actually far more expensive in the long run.
The 30-year debt service has not been questioned by a single committee member. If Claremont residents can’t afford to pay this debt off over 20 years and leave something for the next generation, we shouldn’t be spending that much.
Support AB 1461
The League of Women Voters of California urges Governor Brown to sign AB 1461, the California New Motor Voter Program sponsored by Secretary of State Alex Padilla, and to require that automated voter registration at the DMV be in place in time for the 2016 elections.
The LWV of California has been working for full implementation of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in state agencies including Covered California and, currently, at the Department of Motor Vehicles. As a result of our efforts, the current year’s budget includes funding for the DMV to implement online voter registration during driver’s license transactions. The momentum to implement an automated system must not be lost.
We call on the governor to sign AB 1461 and issue an accompanying statement to ensure the DMV will implement efficient, streamlined voter registration before the June 2016 primary.
For many Californians, registering to vote is a significant barrier to participation in our democracy. The League of Women Voters stands firmly behind efforts to make registration easy and accessible to all eligible citizens.
California ranks 38th among the states in voter registration, a dismal record that must be improved. AB 1461 could potentially bring the 6.6 million eligible but unregistered voters in our state—who are predominantly Latino, African American and Asian-Pacific Islanders—into the electoral process.
Bringing as many eligible Californians into our election process as possible has great rewards for our democracy. We urge Governor Brown to sign this historic bill to improve the civic life of all Californians.
VP for Advocacy,
LWV of Claremont Area
My name is Jacqueline White and I am the Program Director at Crossroads, Inc., a nonprofit group in Claremont. For the past 40 years, Crossroads has assisted women transitioning from prison to self-sufficiency. Our primary goal is to empower women to take control of their lives and help them step out of the revolving door of prison and jail and move towards economic independence.
I had to share what I believe was an act of human kindness and an example of a business going above and beyond the call of duty. Recently, I had a resident who was suffering from a toothache and she had very little money to pay for services. After trying all my resources, and having no luck, I called a die-hard friend of mine by the name of Frida. She never gives up and she reached out local dental offices in Claremont.
Her first call was to Claremont Modern Dentistry. She explained our circumstance to the office manager. The office manager did not hesitate when she said they would be willing to help. She even gave us a 2:30 p.m. appointment for that same day.
Both Dr. Soojhin Lee and Dr. Kent Lau assisted in extracting her tooth at no cost. Everyone in the office was so nice and personable. They also provided a variety of dental hygiene products to our program. Kudos to Claremont Modern Dentistry, at 405 W. Foothill Blvd., Suite 104, Claremont.