City of Rialto Chooses New City Manager After 2 Year Search

Photo from the OC register

Since December 2017 Rialto has been without a permanent City Administrator. There have been three men to fill the top seat on a temporary basis as the Rialto City Council made poor choices that have moved us closer and closer to financial disaster.

First to fill the seat was Assistant City Administrator Robb Steel he lasted for a short stint prior to looking to take a step back into his old role. Then the City Council brought back  Ahmad Ansari, a former public works director and city engineer, as interim city administrator. The most recent person to fill the interim chair is Rialto Fire Chief Sean Grayson.

The spot at City Administrator isn’t the only position to sit without a permanent place holder over the last few years. As the city ignores the looming reality of the unfunded pension liabilities and private vendettas are allowed to hurt employees from bad leaders the city has struggled with attracting new talent. This has shown in the length of time it took to fill this position as well as Police Chief and the fact that is took two years to find a finance director. There have also been jobs in public works and code enforcement that the city offered employment to people and those people turned the city down!

One thing that all Rialto residents and business owners should pay close attention to is the cost of this salary. The article we wrote in the Rialto Record December of 2018 still rings true today. Rialto is spending money it doesn’t have and next years budget which starts in one month is going to be a HOT mess. Your Rialto City Council have spent MILLIONS on raises for employees that we can’t afford.

I say all this to show you how little your city council cares about the taxpayers!

Rod Foster worked as the city manager for the city of Colton, not really the beacon of innovation and clearly not a city to model after. Mr Foster then followed Eileen Gomez to the city of Laguna Niguel. Rod Foster spent ruffly four years at the city of Laguna Niguel and left at the same time as his assistant city administrator. Now Rod Foster may be a very nice man nothing here is to say he isn’t, the problem is can Rialto afford a City Administrtor at the tune of a quarter of a million dollars a year? Rod Foster the new city administrator and Mark Kling the Chief of Police make half a million dollars in Salary alone!!!!

Now you would think that there was a lot of discussion on this appointment and the other top candidates names were presented right? Nope they acted like this effort was a simple, everyday line item and passed this without any explanation or discussion. After the quick motion and second then the comments came. Mayor Robertson spoke about some special trip to Mommie Helens Bakery and her sole reason for picking Rod Foster was his sweet tooth! Ed Scott even more childishly asked Rod Foster to protect him from the many people that Ed Scott has upset over the years, maybe if Ed Scott doesn’t sue Rod Foster he may protect him!

In Rod Fosters defense community members like Gary Grossich and Eileen Gomez have nothing but positive things to say about Rod Foster. These are marks in his favor but why would someone like Rod Foster want to come to Rialto?

To make matters worse Rialto still has no plan on how to deal with $150 Million in unfunded liabilities!! They are still waiting for magic money to fall from the sky! Mark my words bankruptcy or insane tax increases are right around the corner!

Here is what the contract says on the Agenda:

The following provides a summary of key provisions of the proposed employment agreement with Mr. Foster:

 

•                     Salary:  Annual salary would be $240,000 annually.

 

•                     At-will nature of employment: The position of city administrator is an at-will position serving at the pleasure of the City Council.

 

•                     Term: A term of 5 years, which can be extended by the parties for 1 year following a positive performance evaluation.

 

•                     Severance: If Mr. Foster is terminated without cause, then he will be entitled to severance as follows:

 

0-6 months with City                                          monthly salary times 18

6-24 months with City                                          monthly salary times 12

After 24 months with City                                          monthly salary times 6

 

If terminated for cause, Mr. Foster would not be entitled to payment of any severance.

 

•                     Benefits:

 

o                     The benefits would generally consistent with those of the City’s department heads, except as specified in the employment agreement.

 

o                     Vacation leave: Provided 120 hours up front. Thereafter, accrual would be at the rate of 6.15 hours per pay period.

 

o                     Sick leave:  Provided 120 hours up front. Thereafter, accrual would be at the rate of 10 hours per month.

 

o                     Administrative leave: 140 hours per year.

 

o                     Deferred compensation: $750 per month.

 

o                     Vehicle: Provided a City-vehicle for business and incidental personal use.

 

o                     Educational incentive: 7.5% of regular base salary based on master’s degree (same as provided to eligible City department heads).

 

o                     CalPERS: Mr. Foster would be enrolled in the City’s 2% at 62 retirement plan consistent with the requirements of state retirement law for “new” CalPERS members. The employee contribution under this plan is presently 8%.

 

o                     Health insurance coverage and retiree health: Same as for department heads.

 

o                     Relocation reimbursement: Up to $8,500 if Mr. Foster moves to San Bernardino County and within 25 miles of City Hall within 2 years.

 

o                     Life insurance: Benefit amount equivalent to 2x amount provided to department heads.

Image

Council Looks To Put Tax Money In Danger To Help Special Interests

Rialto has seen a boom in development this year with the opening of the new Super Walmart development on the south end and the Renaissance development in the north end of town. Each development has come with its own unique set of challenges to reach the point of completion.

The last few developments that have been handled by one developer have seemed to fall short of the promises made and this developer is a close friend and campaign contributor to Councilman Ed Scott.

Fernando Acosta is a business owner and developer who lives here in Rialto. He owns the Popeye’s fast food restaurant on Ayala and Baseline and has been the developer of the In-N-Out Burger restaurant pad and now the area of the Cracker Barrel.

The In-N-Out pad was one that still to this day has issues that the developer and city failed to address:

  • The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf almost didn’t happen.
  • There was supposed to be a Miguel’s Jr.
  • Other retail uses were planned but never added.
  • Responsibility to clean the lot still resides with the city.

Now Mr. Acosta is the developer of the Cracker Barrel site and has hit a bump in the road and Mr. Acosta is looking for the city to bail him out!

As you can see staff is telling the city council that this is a bad idea and a bad position to be in. Mr. Acosta is more than a year out on completing pad 3, yet he wants the city to put our money in jeopardy. Staff points out multiple times that this is a bad idea and reminds the council that this is General Fund money and that the city has already assisted Mr. Acosta.

To add insult to injury the council directs the City Treasurer to broker a finance deal for Mr. Acosta between the city and Banner Bank. When was the last time the city ever bent over backwards for a resident or business owner in this city when it came to the financial dealing of a new house or business construction?

Councilman Ed Scott claims he doesn’t want to see the project delayed but empty stores still exist across the street in the Renaissance development and that hasn’t hindered anything? There are tons of empty buildings all over Rialto especially on Foothill – one of Rialto’s most heavily traveled routes. Where is the city council jumping to intervene in those situations? Maybe it is because there are no campaign contributions in it for them in those situations?

Another item that should cause great concern to Rialto residents is that Mr. Acosta stands to make a lot of money on this deal. So we’re going to put tax dollars and the city into a risky position so a developer can make a ton of cash? Does that smell to anyone else?

The truth of the matter is that Cracker Barrel is already well under construction and the other tenants are ready to begin construction soon. Mr. Acosta has done this before – promised tenants that never materialize. I looked at his presentation to city council as a bad pitch on Shark Tank. He spoke of offers to fill spaces but never produced any proof, it seemed clear he was pulling a favor from the campaign favor bank!

See video of the full tab below!

Video

Will the City Council Choose to Overtax Residents This Week?

(Photo by Micah Escamilla/The Sun)

On Tuesday July 24th at 6pm the City Council has the task of looking at the next years budget and the impacts of $120 to $150 Million in debt over the next ten years. There are a lot of tax ideas on the table and for the most part the city staff and the budget advisory committee have not advised any additional tax increases.

What the council chooses to do is always a surprise……

The scary thing is that even looking down the barrel of hundreds of millions of dollars in debt the current council seems to be spending money like drunken sailors. Most recently the massive 8% raise that Rialto Police Department got with a 2 year retro pay back wasn’t cheap. Early calculations put this raise at almost an additional Million Dollars a year (money we don’t have). There is no fund plan to replace equipment for these cops or to add additional officers to the streets as Rialto prepares to open a 2nd major retail development, we simply paid off the cops for some reason.

What is sad is the Fire Department and other city departments all are still waiting for their turn to get a hand out and sadly we’re not sure there is anything left.

Some of the taxes your council will be looking at adding to your bills are:

  • Sales Tax – Several cities impose a sales tax surcharge of 0.25% to 1.0% to help pay for public safety services. Local cities with such levies include Riverside,  and Menifee, among others. If the tax measure restricts the use of funds for a specific purpose such as public safety, then
    Proposition 13 requires a 2/3 super majority vote. This creates a high hurdle for passage,due to the absence of overwhelming popular support. To avoid the 2/3 vote requirement, some cities establish the tax measure as a general tax (so they can abuse and steal this money as they see fit) and commit to use the funds to maintain or enhance public safety (often with advisory votes). Sales taxes are the City’s largest revenue source for the first time in years, due to the completion of several retail projects (Rialto Marketplace) and the capture of sales taxes from the Medline Industries facility. The City forecasts that it will receive $16,231,000 in FY 18, a growth of $9,053,377 since FY 12. Medline Industries reported quarterly sales taxes to the City for the first time in June 2017 and the City projects full year returns of $4,400,000. The City agreed to rebate 50% of this amount to Medline as an incentive to relocate its point of sale to Rialto, so the net benefit to the General Fund will be $2,200,000. As the Renaissance Marketplace completes toward the end of FY 18, sales taxes should receive another boost of approximately $750,000 per year in FY 19.
  • Utility Users Tax – The City adopted the Utility User Tax in 2003 as an 8% levy upon all utility consumption. This revenue projects for FY 18 at $13,890,500. On June 5, 2018, the City’s voters approved a permanent extension of this revenue source. This revenue has grown reliably by approximately $500,000 each year because of economic expansion, and may receive continuing boosts in the years ahead from new development (Niagara and Building 5/6). The principal risk (other than repeal) is the trend toward co-generation and legislative exemption of certain utilities from the payment of local taxes. Households are also “cutting the cord” and eliminating cable TV service and landline phone service, depressing those sources of utility tax income. This is now a permanent tax at 8% and is supposed to be reduced to 6% as promised after the passage of the tank farm tax. 
  • PERS Tax – In 1958, the City adopted Ordinance No. 414 creating a property tax surcharge to fund employee retirement. The City Council annually established the tax rate and collected the property tax. The rate ranged from a low of 0.1000 to a high of 0.1506, with a historical average of 0.1316. When voters approved the Utility Tax in 2003, the City Council did not abolish the tax, but simply set the rate to 0.0% each year thereafter. The City retains the authority to levy the tax. The current City Attorney opines that the City may use the revenues from the PERS Tax only to pay for benefits.
  • Residential Community Facilities District – A Residential Community Facilities District imposes a special tax upon the owners of new residential units offsetting the cost of public services, ideally producing a neutral fiscal impact to the City. Generally, residential development costs the City more in services than it provides in revenue, thus the special tax. The Developer of a new residential project approves the special tax and then passes it along to the homebuyer. The homebuyer considers this tax in the purchase decision.
  • Transient Occupancy Tax – Most cities in California levy a transient occupancy tax on short-term stays in local lodging facilities. Rates range from 4% to 15% statewide. Rialto’s rate is currently 9% of gross room revenues. Rialto does not have a significant lodging sector; however, developers propose two new hotels in the Renaissance Specific Plan and the City Council set high priorities for such development. Increasing the TOT rate may discourage these uses, and the City Council has reduced other development impact fees to incentivize the new hotels. An increase in the TOT requires a majority vote of the electorate at a general election. The current rate is 9% in Rialto.
  • Fire Protection District – A Fire Protection District provides a variant to the other forms of public safety taxes. A city may establish a Fire Protection District upon 2/3 voter approval – they are deemed special taxes under Proposition 13. The new district may levy an assessment as an ad valorem tax, a parcel tax, or other approved structures. The monies raised go directly to a special fund available only for fire protection
    services. These funds may supplant or supplement funding from other sources, including the General Fund, Community Facility District levies, and others. Ultimately, the new revenues from this structure release existing general fund revenues to support other services. The responsibility for managing the Fire Protection District typically resides with the City Council. The District could establish the tax at the full net cost of Fire Department (approximately $16 million) or some lesser amount. (This tax is levied on everyone, there are no special exemptions for Seniors or Low Income individuals)
  • Measure U – Adopted by voters in 2014, Measure U established a business license tax on fuel storage capacity. On November 4, 2014, Rialto voters approved a tax of up to $1.00 per cubic foot of liquid storage capacity for any wholesale liquid fuel storage business. The primary targets for the new tax were the businesses that operate the “tank farm” on Riverside Avenue, south of the I-10 Freeway. The businesses scheduled to pay the tax included, among others, Kinder Morgan, Tesoro, and Shell Oil. The tax did not apply to retail service stations. The City Council pledged to reduce the utility tax from 8% to 6% upon implementation of Measure U. On February 22, 2017, the Superior Court for the County of San Bernardino ruled in favor of the City of Rialto and determined that the tax was valid and enforceable. The plaintiff businesses then filed an appeal with the Appellate Court of the State of California. The parties expect to present the case to the Appellate Court in May 2018, with oral briefings approximately 6-9 months thereafter (late 2018 or early 2019). The City expects a decision before June 2019. Depending upon the outcome, either party could appeal to the California Supreme Court, lengthening the time before a final determination. The City holds approximately $22 million in escrow pending the court determinations. The annual revenue averages approximately $8 million. The pledge to reduce the Utility Tax by 2% reduces the annual revenue yield by approximately $3.6 million. (this tax was sold as the savior to our financial woes and now there are talks of settling with the tank farm operators making this entire effort a wash if the council were to keep their promise on reducing the Utility Users Tax).
  • Truck Transportation Fee – The BAC and the City Council have asked whether a fee can be levied upon truckers or trucking operations that burden City streets. The City would levy the fee on a per trip basis or some other logical driver using tracking technologies. The City Attorney opined that state and federal law likely prohibit a fee upon trucking for the use of City streets. A fee based upon weight may be permissible but the City could only impose the fee to recover permitting costs (and not generate revenue for public service costs). Based upon
    CA opinion, it does not appear to provide a significant revenue source except as a cost recovery mechanism for the regulatory costs. Keep in mind the Trash Fee (TAX) is completely legal. The city charges you a fee every month because trash trucks cause to much damage to the road. So the city can tax you but not the people responsible for the damage!!!! Also remember Burrtec has a 10 year contract with the city and single handedly funds the Mayors campaign efforts.
  • Code Enforcement – Cities often levy fines for non-compliance with property maintenance codes. Rialto issues administrative citations for code violations and collects a small amount of fines, penalties, and interest. The City Council directs Code Enforcement to obtain compliance, rather than collect revenue. Consequently, our implementation procedures routinely waive fines upon compliance. The City
    does collect out of pocket abatement costs. In 2015, staff proposed to levy additional costs for re-inspection costs but the City Council tabled the proposal for further clarification, again repeating the primary purpose of Code Enforcement. The City currently does not collect significant sums from code enforcement violations, primarily cost recovery for third party abatement costs.  The Staff Recommendation is that City Council revisit added costs for extraordinary Code Enforcement compliance issues, notably repeat offenders. BAC Recommends that the City Council add stronger provisions to the Rialto Municipal Code authorizing administrative citations to encourage compliance, seeking restitution from repeat offenders, and instituting procedures to resolve code violations expeditiously. Get ready for the hammer to drop!!!!
  • Street Sweeping Program – Most cities cite vehicles parked in areas scheduled for street sweeping. Throughout California, Regional Water Quality agencies are aggressively requiring cities to implement storm water remediation programs, and street sweeping programs implement this mandate. The City is developing the mechanics of a program to improve the efficiency of street sweeping. The City currently contracts with Burrtec for street sweeping services. Burrtec simply avoids parked cars, resulting in inefficient sweeping. The City must incur capital costs for signage installation, and recover its costs from fees. The goal of this program is compliance and neutral costs, and not primarily as a revenue generator. The City estimates the potential 1st year net revenue at $700,000.

So residents have to decide how much more taxes are you prepared to pay? How much more control are you willing to give and why are you allowing the council to act so recklessly with your money?

If you’re scared of talking to these people in public face to face then email them or call them. The only way they get the message is by knowing that there are others out there with questions!

MAYOR: DEBORAH ROBERTSON

drobertson@rialtoca.gov

(909) 873-8874

(909) 644-8520 Cell

MAYOR PRO TEM: ED SCOTT

edscott@rialtoca.gov

(909) 875-0653

(909) 746-7643 Cell

COUNCIL MEMBER: JOE BACA, JR.

jbaca@rialtoca.gov

(909) 820-2519

COUNCIL MEMBER: RAFAEL TRUJILLO

rtrujillo@rialtoca.gov

(909) 820-2525

(909) 562-2476 Cell

COUNCIL MEMBER:

ANDY CARRIZALES

acarrizales@rialtoca.gov

(909) 820-2525

(909) 586-2020 Cell

Planning Gina Gibson

ggibson@rialtoca.gov

(909) 421-7240

Robb Steel Development Services Director

rsteel@rialtoca.gov

(909) 820-8008

Ahmad Ansari Interm City Administrator

Office: (909) 820-2528 |

City Cell: (909) 644-2032 |

Email: aansari@rialtoca.gov

Travel and Transparency Remain Out of Control in Rialto

Rialto Police Department wants you to believe that they are concerned with providing money to keep your Police Department fully staffed. They went as far as to scare local residents into voting for a permanent tax this month to keep police services at their current levels.

This blogger would like to remind you of the following:

  • We have harped on out of control spending on travel.
  • We have told you that there is Zero transparency in the City of Rialto.
  • Outside of this blog NOBODY is reporting on or writing about Rialto.

At the June 12th city council meeting the city council approved

Request City Council to Approve a Travel and Training Request for
Lieutenant Dean Hardin to attend Senior Management Institute for Police
(SMIP) of the Police Executive Research Forum (PERF) in the Estimated
Amount of $10,405.60, Budgeted in the Proposed Fiscal Year 2018/19
Budget.

As you can see from the photo above the estimate that Rialto Police Department submitted was from April 30th yet they are barley bringing this item forward on June 12th? The date of travel is July 7th, not sure about you but airline rates get more expensive as you wait to book your flight closer to the departure date. Don’t worry being frugal with tax dollars is a thing of the past now.

Literature that looks like it was copied on a machine from the 80’s state this is a training for Chief’s of Police. Are we spending over $15K to give a Lt. andance training so he can qualify for a promotion? Shouldn’t that be the burden of the employee not the Tax Payers?

“Chiefs must find new ways to address these issues and deliver a wide’r scope of services, often with fewer resources.”

Also this was stuck on the consent calendar meaning their was no discussion and very little input on why this travel expense was relevant in the 1st place. This must be why people like to work in Rialto they get to travel for FREE on your tax dollars.

Are you done wasting tax money on wasteful spending?

Image

Rialto’s Budget Advisory Committee Proposes to Bring Back PERS Tax

Look we don’t want to say we told you so but…. we did!

We told you it was only going to get worse and we told you that the people leading this city could care less how much people struggle and how expensive it already is to live in the Inland Empire. Yes the Police, Fire and City Staff want to squeeze every bit of money you have until you are sucked dry!

The video above is a portion of the Facebook Live we did at the last Budget Advisory Committee meeting. In this meeting a tax that was fought off years ago never went away and there are a lot of people on the committee that want to bring it back including Police and Fire union reps. The fire union thinks you will be ok with another tax because this one can’t be abused like the Utility Tax, Trash Road Fee and all the grant money that spills into the city. You see this money can only be used to Pay PERS, it wont cover all of it but will cover a portion of the massive $20 Million a year (growing by $1.5 Million a year).

So ask yourself, Are you ready for ANOTHER tax?

Hmm seems like we have been saying that a lot lately? We wonder if the people are going to wise up soon?

More taxes on the horizon are:

  • Increased gas taxes
  • Sales Tax
  • Fire Tax

Heck soon you will be taxed on the air you breath!

Rialto After the June Primary Elections

 

Anyone that felt like I did about the June 5th Primary here in Rialto probably said “why did I waste my time”.

City Hall, the Unions in this city and Table Rock Capital the company responsible for the massive water rate increases with nothing more than a few new water meter to show for it made a full court push to remove any accountability from the City Council to spend our money wisely.

The phone calls from prominent people living in Rialto were non stop and made this blogger very sad for Rialto’s future. The police and fire unions did everything in their power to make sure you were scared to tell the city that their reckless spending would not fly any longer.

What was worse were the calls from supporters the next day to fluff their feathers and show off!! The most disappointing one was long time resident Gretta Hodges who was swayed because someone named Mr Willson and Amy Crow said they would be fired if the measure did not pass. These two people who had no idea who would be let go used their power and influence to sway a person who was dead set against loosing the checks and balances of a 5 year sunset.

So I guess everyone is prepared for loss of control and higher taxes for the sake of other people who they don’t even know.

Bright spots after this election?

Jason Anderson beat District Attorney Ramos from his seat in office. Hopefully this means that the Public Integrity Unit will finally start doing their jobs and not allow dirty reckless politicians hide their laundry list of dirty deeds.

The Utility Tax can still be defeated in November as there will be a measure on the ballot to undo any tax that isn’t passed by 2/3 of the voters.

A measure to roll back harmful gas and car registration fees will be on the ballot giving taxpayers thousands of dollars back in their pockets.

Image

Common Sense Says No To Measure M

TheREAL FACTS About Measure M
  • Measure M is a tax increase. The 8% Rialto Utility Users Tax (UUT) was given to the city council and all they did is abuse the tax and waste time and money. Now to remove any responsibility to the voters they are giving themselves a permanent TAX increase FOREVER!!!!!!!
  • This levy on utility bills provides roughly $14 million in revenue per year. These funds go into the General Fund and are abused by the city. The mayor and council play games with your taxes and name buildings and parks after their political allies. The council needs this money to cover the MILLIONS in Lawsuits that they have single handily brought on Rialto Tax Payers.
  • To scare you into voting for this measure the city is using the old scare tactic of taking away police and fire services. Councilman Ed Scott has been Quoted saying that rialto police the bottom of the barrel.
    • The police never respond to complaints and are causing more problems then they solve. Rialto Police are famous for the drive by they do when they respond to a call. This consists of cruising by the location at 45 MPH. Rialto Fire spends more time outside the city under a mutual aide agreement than they do inside the city. Also they are preparing to stack a Fire Tax on top of this one next year. ALL WITHOUT YOUR CONSENT!
    • Reducing the Public Works Department by 11 positions, will make little change since the city looks horrid as it is so nothing will change.
  • Had it not been for dedicated people like us the Council was HELL bent on charging this tax on all seniors!
  • Rialto Fire charges annual fees to pick you up in an emergency leading to more people avoiding calling for help and risking further injury by waiting or self transport.
  • Rialto charges you a TRASH TAX because BURRTEC trucks are too heavy for Rialto streets but we can’t charge BURRTEC for it because they are political allies of Mayor Robertson.
  • $100,000 a year is paid so that our elected leaders can travel all over the country on your DIME.
  • Even if this measure passes Rialto will still be bankrupt in 4 years. The only difference is you will be stuck with a Utility Users Tax that NEVER ENDS!!!!!
  • The people signed onto this TAX are doing so to keep the flow of your tax money into their pockets. A small handful have been bullied into signing on to this tax. Multiple people have reached out saying that the Mayor said get on board or else.

Image

Previous Older Entries