By Tom Henderson • Staff Writer • 

Council tags legislative priorities

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Comments

Rotwang

You lost me at increasing taxes. Taxation is theft. You guys make low taxes seem like a bad thing.

Sal Peralta

This is confusing. A majority on the council did not agree with 3 or 4 of the the six recommendations from staff. I do not believe that the beer tax increase had more than 2 votes.

Sal Peralta

You live in a civil society. You benefit from roads, infrastructure, police, fire, ambulance, sewer and the rest. Everyday, you benefit from each of these things. Why shouldn't you contribute to their cost?

Rotwang

I wondered how long it would be before some statist hit the "muh roads" button. Some folks just won't look outside the box towards voluntary payment for services.

Sal Peralta

The word you are looking for is 'citizen', Rotwang. If you don't want to pay taxes you are free to move someplace where a human civilization does not exist.

Sal Peralta

I expect that the rest of us will keep playing by the rules of the country we call home.

Mudstump

Rotwang - Running a city, county, state or country for that matter costs money. If you don't want to pay taxes then I guess you endorse freeloading and mooching off the rest of us. It takes a collective effort by each citizen putting in their fair share.

Rotwang

A collectivist. I knew it.

Rotwang

Sal, the trouble is that my "fair share" has been rising every year, and I'm sick of it. I vote for people who will work to make government smaller.

Lulu

How about peace in the Middle East?

Don Dix

* Reforming PERS? Ruden gets it! -- the state is being run by PERS -- PERS is only concerned about how much more $$$ can be drained from public accounts, and they compensate selected lawmakers quite well (during and after service) to keep the status quo.

PERS resembles lava -- a consistent, gradual (financial) intrusion that will eventually overtake everything in it's way.

Sal Peralta

Don - Yes, it is so much better to complain about PERS rather than trying to take concrete steps to make the system more solvent. Seriously, you have spent years complaining about the issue and when I identify it is a core legislative priority because 28.6 percent of this city's current payroll is tied of unreimbursed PERS expenses of existing retirees; most school districts are worse; and the overall expenses of the system are expected to grow for the next decade -- and now you get the idea that there is nothing to be done? Sorry, but that is utter B.S. At a minimum, we need a new tier that takes new government employee hires off of defined benefit pensions or this problem is never going to go away. The Democrats will never consider going there unless cities and school districts keep pressuring them.

BC

* Changing the permitting process for wetlands development.

What, exactly, does that mean? Making it harder for a developer to build on fragile ground or easier to crowd more density into the UBG?

Sal Peralta

BC - Here's a link to the packet, which includes LOC priorities starting on page 4. Staff recommendations are highlighted in yellow (for the record, my choices were MNOP -- although V was tempting since it dovetails on the 2019 priority of improving Davis St. corridor which is eligible for safe schools matching funds). I am not an expert in the policy area you are asking about but it looks to me like the intent is for the state to meet certain federal requirements that would allow it to assume the current role of the Army Corps of Engineers during part of the permitting process thereby streamlining the regulatory process for wetlands development for the purpose of making it easier for cities to incorporate wetlands into UGB and develop them as permitted by the 1977 clean water act. Oregon has tried and failed at this a few times, according to some of the linked documentation.

Sal Peralta

LOC priorities considered by council last week:
https://www.mcminnvilleoregon.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/city_council/meeting/packets/7608/packet.pdf

Don Dix

Sal -- when you consider how long the PERS monster has been sucking public dollars, those who recognized it early will have had some verbal history with the subject. Others, not so much.

If municipalities and school districts can persuade PERS to back off and become a positive influence on the state's budget, as well as other districts, hats off to you and others.

You wrote --"The Democrats will never consider going there unless cities and school districts keep pressuring them." Unless the state governing body changes hands, as in no dem control, that 'pressure' will have the same effect as always -- none!

Sal Peralta

Don - Well, I was one of several who pressured them to get a fix in 2013 that you said at the time they would never even attempt. The courts struck it down but that history plus 2004 demonstrates that they will take action when the circumstances force their hand and we are at that place today. We will basically the same place or worse than we were in 2004 by the end of the next biennium.

Don Dix

Sal -- 2013? Senate Bill 822 would be that 'fix', right? A one party decision that wasn't even a good band aid, and PERS informed all that the reduction in retiree COLA would be challenged in court, as well as other aspects (and PERS prevailed).

The bill didn't 'save' any money, but, outside the retiree issue, mostly deferred payments, hoping investments would make up the difference. The bill also made it necessary to raise taxes, which is the usual dem solution to everything. Most outside of the dem circle called it a sham.

Credit to you for the attempt, but the results tell the story quite explicitly. At the time (2013), the unfunded liability was $14M -- now, it is $22B.

Sal Peralta

The fix they agreed to in 2013 was not what I proposed or recommended. My point is that they can clearly be pressured into taking action. That happened in 2004 and again in 2013. The situation we are headed to is worse than 2013 and as bad as 2004. Wishing and hoping for a Republican majority and sticking your hands in your pockets when anyone else is working on the issue is not a good faith policy approach and its not a rational one either, given the realities of who controls this state. It's just more of the same tribal two party dysfunction that is causing this country to fail.

Sponge

One big step toward limiting the PERS cost to local governments would be to eliminate the 6% pick-up for employees. That would not require any legislative action, but would require a showdown with the unions. It is the unions that have thwarted meaningful reforms. It is not unreasonable to expect public employees to contribute 6% to their own retirement accounts, without laying that cost solely on the backs of taxpayers.

Don Dix

If memory serves correctly (and it might not), the 6% retirement pickup for public employees came about in 1980 or so. It was supposed to be a one time adjustment (2 years) because there were no raises during that period. Somehow, that 'pickup' became a 'right', never to be taken away.

Other issues with the PERS costs -- using all unused vacation, sick leave, and comp time to adjust up final wages used for calculating retirement payments, and basing retirement on the final 3 years of employment (Mike Belotti), not the entire career -- guaranteeing 8% return on PERS retirement accounts -- enacting 'money match' on PERS accounts --allowing the legislature to join PERS -- having a court system (PERS members) rule on what can and can't be changed.

With all these 'restrictions and rules' (identifying PERS) that seem to be set in stone, the only avenue would to restrict union money from 'buying the majority'. The money flow (to legislators) is what it is -- a flat-out bribe by any name -- and allows the union to write and expect passage of bills to advance and protect PERS from any negative adjustments. It's a closed system that feeds itself on any particular government structure, and the only pubic involvement is providing the ever-increasing funds.

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