April 2013.

IS DOCK TAX PAYING FOR MASSIVE SALARY INCREASES FOR CITY MANAGEMENT?

Three weeks after the city council slammed the commercial marina operators with a 366% tax increase in the middle of a recession, they approved a consultant’s report triggering massive salary increases for upper management.  For example, the HR Directors’ salary, who orchestrated the study, will go from $151,000 to $213,000 plus 30% for benefits giving us a $277,000 personnel director.  The city manager will see a bump to $367,000, including benefits.  And my favorite, Newport’s librarian will take home $262,000, including the customary 30% benefits package all upper management enjoys. That will take some of the stress out of implementing the Dewey Decimal system.

If history is our guide, the city will use the Dock Tax hike to offset these massive salary hikes by creating an overhead “surcharge” on the Tidelands Fund.

Here’s the rub.

It’s the same process they’ve used to drive up our unfunded pension liability to the highest per capita of any city in Orange County.  Hire a friendly consultant to do a study.  In this case they used Fox Lawson, a firm hand-picked by the HR person that was making $151,000 five years ago when she left the city of Costa Mesa for greener pastures in Newport Beach.  Click here to read the staff report.    

I’M A PROUD MEMBER OF MAYOR CURRY’S “SMALL CADRE OF MEDIOCRE CRITICS”

For almost a year we have been fighting the big-spending bureaucrats and politicians in Newport Beach.  Earlier this month Mayor Curry penned an editorial labeling anyone that dared to question the cost of the new Taj Mahal a “mediocre critic” of the project.

In response to the Mayor’s invective, the Register has published my editorial reply that appears in today’s paper (below).

Periodically people ask me about the relationship of the Dock Tax to the Taj Mahal.  To be clear, we believe the city has historically used the Tidelands Fund as a piggy bank for non-tidelands overhead and projects in violation of state law.  We believe funds from the Dock Tax will end up paying the city’s $8 million per year mortgage on the Taj Mahal.

I wrote the Register piece out of frustration with a city government that has become so bloated and arrogant that they think they need a $140 million monument to themselves.  It’s time for a change.

The Current

April 19, 2013

 

LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

 

‘MEDIOCRE’ AND PROUD

I am one of the taxpayers that Newport Beach Mayor Keith Curry labeled cynical and mediocre in his April 5 commentary that tried to defend spending $140 million on the new Taj Mahal.

I was an early financial donor to the campaign that changed the zoning to relocate City Hall to Newport Center, the same initiative that Curry opposed for cost reasons.

When I first heard the pitch to move City Hall, it made sense. We had a free parcel from the generous Irvine Company in Fashion Island. We would sell the old City Hall site, take the money and build a new City Hall with the funds from the sale. Simple. Sensible.

What happened? The politicians got hold of the process. There was no selfcontrol.

Mayor Curry fails to realize that so many of the residents of this city are mad and disgusted with the spending of this City Council. They have created a bloated bureaucracy laden with unfunded pension costs that are the highest in Orange County. This includes huge salaries: The city manager makes $300,000 a year, lifeguards retire at $200,000 a year, while the cost of a street sweeping ticket is $63, and there are many more such examples.

Now we have a 30-year debt of $230,000,000, which our children and grandchildren will have to pay. We were not given the opportunity to vote on the $140 million cost. All we did was vote to choose a new location. Keep in mind; this was to be a City Hall, a place where the city does its normal activities, not a Taj Mahal.

When it involves my taxes, I will continue to be part of Curry’s “small cadre of mediocre cynics” that will proudly question, criticize, and confront elected officials who arrogantly waste money. That’s my civic duty.

 

Bob McCaffrey Balboa Island

Dear Newport Harbor Residential Dock Owner & Friend of the Harbor,

Some of you receiving this email have been fighting the city council’s outrageous tax increasess on Harbor businesses, moorings, and commercial marinas for over a year.

For many of you this is the first time you’ve received an email from Stop the Dock Tax.

Here’s a brief history and purpose of our organization.

I started Stop the Dock Tax in my living room with a few friends that are angry with this city council.

We are a grassroots group comprised of over 1,000 Newport Harbor residential dock owners.  We formed last July in anticipation of the city’s push to raise taxes on everyone – including us – that lives or conducts business in Newport Harbor.  In the middle of a recession they raised taxes on mooring owners by 300%, commercial marinas 366%, and harbor businesses 183%.  One long-time harbor business was hit with a 700% increase.

Daily Pilot

dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-0417-dock-tax-mailer-20130415,0,6252344.story

Daily Pilot

Group says not to pay dock fees

Those who follow Stop the Dock Tax’s advice could face a 10% penalty, official warns.

By Bradley Zint

1:34 PM PDT, April 16, 2013

Opponents to a fee increase for Newport Harbor’s residential docks are urging affected homeowners to ignore them.

But the city said anyone who doesn’t pay could face a 10% penalty.

Stop the Dock Tax and the Newport Beach Dock Owners Assn. plan to send out 1,100 mailers this week advocating that recipients avoid paying the “pier residential” fee included in water, sewer and recycling bills.

The groups want residents to hold off paying while a lawsuit opposing the fees winds its way through the courts.

An Orange County Superior Court judge is scheduled Wednesday to hear the Dock Owners Assn.’s request for an injunction suspending the fee increase.

The lawsuit alleges that the city of Newport Beach, as it proceeded to institute the tax, moved committee members without public notice and violated the Brown Act, a state law that requires much of the public’s business be conducted in open meetings.

CITY CONTINUES THEIR CUNNING WAYS TO TRICK DOCK OWNERS INTO PAYING THE
DOCK TAX ON THE WATER BILL
NEWPORT BEACH, CA – This week nearly 1,100 Newport Beach residential dock owners will receive a mailer calling on them to reject the largest property tax increase in Newport’s history – the Dock Tax.  “There is no permit or agreement to sign – it’s a slimy way to collect the tax,” stated Stop the Dock Tax Chairman Bob McCaffrey.  (read the mailer here)
“Don’t pay the Dock Tax that is included in your Municipal Services Statement, we are asking a judge to restrain the city from collecting the Dock Tax until all litigation is finished,” stated McCaffrey.
According to our lawyers, if you pay any portion of the Dock Tax you are agreeing to the terms and conditions of the largest property tax increase in the city’s history.  Pay everything on the bill but – DON’T PAY THE DOCK TAX. 
Tomorrow morning we are in court to set a schedule for a hearing for an injunction to stop the city from collecting the Dock Tax.  We update dock owners of the court schedule that will include our request that the judge order a court mandated trust account for residents fearing that the city’s high-handed manner will result in the confiscation of their dock.  When the judge agrees, we will notify you immediately.
The pier permit that triggers the Dock Tax has a provision allowing the city to seize docks for a myriad of reasons – including non-payment of the Dock Tax.  “We have seen aggressive bullying from this city council in the adoption of the Dock Tax.  In a fit of rage Mayor Pro Tem  Rush Hill lectured us and swore at his constituents from the dais as they rushed to adopt the tax before adjourning to Newport Center to christen the Taj Mahal,” stated McCaffrey. (watch Rush Hill’s outburst here)
“In a few weeks this city council will cut the ribbon on the Taj Mahal – a $140 million symbol of misguided political ego, and waste.  The residents and the businesses of the Harbor aren’t going to pay for it with the taxes recently assessed on us,” concluded McCaffrey.

Daily Pilot

dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-0417-dock-tax-mailer-20130415,0,6252344.story

Daily Pilot

Group urges residents to ignore dock bills

By Bradley Zint

3:48 PM PDT, April 15, 2013

Opponents of the increased Newport Harbor dock fee announced Monday that they intend to send out nearly 1,100 mailers this week urging residents not to pay the dock fee portion of their city utility bills.

The Newport Beach Dock Owners Assn.-produced mailers advocate not paying the “pier residential” fee within the bills that also include water, sewer and recycling charges.

The City Council approved the fee increase last year that changed the amount from $100 annually to 52.5 cents per square foot per year for residential docks over public tidelands. The increase is scheduled to be phased in over five years.

The Dock Owners Assn. filed an injunction last week that attempts to prevent the city from collecting the fee until the association’s lawsuit goes through the court system.

IF YOU’VE RECEIVED YOUR CITY UTILITY BILL – DON’T PAY THE DOCK TAX

I used to trust our city government.  Then they used every deceptive trick in the bureaucratic play-book to foist the Dock Tax upon us.  I thought I had seen everything, until now.  Three weeks ago our lawyer got a call from the city’s attorney asking for extra time to respond to our lawsuit.

It’s a common request and a professional courtesy, so we granted their request for extra time.  Shame on us.

While their lawyers were delaying the city was preparing to mail the bi-monthly utility bill with the Dock Tax in it, despite the fact that our lawsuit is pending.

We got snookered.  It won’t happen again.  Next Tuesday we will be in court to set a date to argue for an injunction to compel the city to not collect the Dock Tax until all litigation is complete.
Sincerely,

 

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Bob McCaffreyChairman,
Stop The Dock Tax
www.stopthedocktax.com Please check with our web site for the lastest information

P.S.  If you have received your city utility bill don’t pay the Dock Tax line item.  Our attorney’s believe paying any fraction of the Dock Tax waives your rights to reject the tax.  We will be communicating with you soon with further instructions.

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dailypilot.com/news/tn-dpt-0412-dock-fee-injunction-request-20130411,0,243797.story

Daily Pilot

Opponents seek an injunction on fees

Stop the Dock Tax chairman says city’s method to collect money ‘deceptive, tricky and dishonest.’

By Jeremiah Dobruck and Jill Cowan

http://www.ocregister.com/news/dock-503908-city-fee.html

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Newport residents seek court order to block dock fee hike

By DEEPA BHARATH

2013-04-12 15:49:55

NEWPORT BEACH – The Newport Beach Dock Owners Association plans to go to court Tuesday to seek an injunction against the city’s collection of increased dock fees from residents, according to an attorney for the group.

Attorney Steve Baric said the city is hiding the dock fees in the water bill and putting residents in the “untenable position of being forced to pay.” The Dock Owners Association filed a lawsuit on Feb. 12 against the city alleging council members involved in talks on harbor fees did not adequately abide by the state’s Ralph M. Brown Act or open meeting laws.

City officials have said that they have not violated open meeting laws and that there is nothing wrong in the manner in which they are currently collecting the increased dock rents.

State Sen. Mimi Walters and Assemblyman Allan Man ask lands commission to delay decision.

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By Jill Cowan
April 11, 2013

Two legislators have asked the California State Lands Commission to put off deciding whether to allow the city of Newport Beach to establish a special harbor fund.

The officials want the state to hold off until they can further investigate how that money may be used and a lawsuit filed in February against the city seeking to block the new dock fees is resolved.

In a letter addressed to Lt. Gov. Gavin Newsom, who sits on the commission, state Sen. Mimi Walters (R-Irvine) and Assemblyman Allan Mansoor (R-Costa Mesa) requested that the item on the commission’s April 26 meeting agenda be postponed.

“We want to give it 30 days — give everybody the opportunity to kind of flesh out these details,” said Mansoor’s spokesman, Chad Morgan.