Study Session to Focus on Tax Measures, Police Department

City officials will hold a study session Tuesday on how to restore public services lost in the past decade of budget cuts, namely by considering a couple tax increases for the 2014 ballot. Police pay and staffing is a top priority, according to several memos.

Councilman Pete Constant suggests the San Jose Police Department re-hire former officers by offering them a hard-to-refuse cash incentive. San Jose would save tens of thousands of dollars per recruit by hiring officers who have already been through the academy and training, Constant says.

For the past several years, the city’s tackled budget deficits through service reductions and hundreds of layoffs, the councilman notes in a memo. Library hours were cut, fire stations staffed via overtime and street maintenance has a $339 million backlog.

“There is no doubt that these actions have severely affected our employees, residents and businesses. And unlike many other city services, changes in police staffing affect everyone,” Constant writes. “Reductions in police services equate to slower response times throughout the city, less time for investigations, fewer perpetrators arrested and rising crime throughout virtually every neighborhood in San Jose.”

Mayor Chuck Reed and Councilman Sam Liccardo submitted their own plan in a joint memo on how to restore a 10-percent salary cut and bring the city’s police staff up to 1,250 from the current 1,109 over the next four years.

Ideas to increase revenue include a new library parcel tax or sales tax. Like most municipalities, San Jose depends on sales tax and property tax to generate a good chunk of the general fund revenue—47 percent of it, or $389 million annually. The problem is those tax revenues rarely keep pace with economic growth.

The city’s sales tax base has also shrunk because of changing consumer habits. Consumers spent 53 cents per dollar on taxable items in 1979, according to a recent report by the California Legislative Analyst titled, “Why Have Sales Taxes Grown Slower Than the Economy?” That figure plummeted to 33 cents by 2012, as the price of services has grown four times as much as prices for goods since 1980, the report notes.

To make up for the drop in sales tax—especially since the spending freeze hastened when the economy tanked in 2008—lots of cities have turned to voters to pass sales tax increases. San Jose’s use tax rate is 8.75 percent, the same as San Francisco’s and a little less than Oakland’s.

The city would need 55 percent voter approval to pass a sales tax increase. A quarter-percent uptick to 9 percent would generate an additional $30 million to $35 million a year. A half-percent increase to 9.25 percent would generate up to $70 million annually, the city estimates.

Some council members are talking about teaming up with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) to extend and amend a countywide transportation tax next year, as another option.

Property tax also lags behind economic growth, especially given the confines of Prop. 13, a 1978 law that restricts annual property tax increases to 2 percent unless there’s a change in ownership or improvements to the property. Plus, the incremental growth in property taxes in San Jose’s former redevelopment districts went to pay down debt incurred by subsidized development in those areas. That means the city’s general fund won’t see any property tax revenue from former redevelopment projects until 2024, when the debt’s paid off.

To offset the lack, the city’s considering placing on the June 2014 ballot a measure to extend the city’s library parcel tax, which sunsets in 2015.

Each ballot measure, with prior polling to gauge public opinion beforehand, could cost anywhere between $425,000 and $900,000, the city says. The 2013-14 fiscal year budget includes $1.8 million for election, as Mayor Reed noted interest in these options before passing the current-year budget.

WHAT: City Council Study Session
WHEN: 1:30 to 5pm Tuesday
WHERE: City Hall, 200 E. Santa Clara St., San Jose
INFO: City Clerk, 408.535.1260

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected] or follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth.

45 Comments

  1. Funny, now that all these council members are running for mayor they finally want to help restore the police and fire departments that they have very intentionally dismantled over the past couple of years.  This problem could have easily been avoided if they had chosen to negotiate with us rather than take the “my way or the highway” approach that has landed us squarely where we are today.  We all agreed that changes needed to be made and that cuts had to be taken by employees, but the council and mayor chose a different route.  The citizens should lay the blame directly on Mayor Reed and his followers.

  2. As usual Pete Constant Knows nothing of what he speaks of . Its Not just the money ! it was the total package that enticed people to want to work for SJPD . Money on its own will not reverse the mass exodus. As far as Pay scale SJPD is at the very bottom of almost any list compiled . as far as Benefits San Jose is dead last . No one who left san jose will return to san jose , they simply know better. There is zero trust and no love lost for this citys administration . If San Jose ever wants to climb back to its status of “One of the best in the country”  it will take pay benefits , otherwise why come here when candidates can go else where and get a better “total package’  and NOT have to deal with all the B.S. That is San Jose.
            Reed and Lickardo , What a Joke ! More of the same . trying to pay someone with what you just took from them is not a raise . its just more “Reed style math” its also disingenuous and insulting .

  3. I don’t think pete gets it. The officers no longer WANT to work for San Jose. The trust is gone. They do not trust the mayor, the council or the city manager. Once trust is gone…you have nothing. Think about what you have done.

  4. “Obviously, if we suffer another severe recession, a legal setback to the fiscal reform plan, or any comparable fiscal calamity, we will need to reconsider this plan.”

    Shouldn’t the city be considering how it’s going to fare if Measure B gets stricken down, since according to the mayor, if pension reform was not enacted the city would have to declare a fiscal emergency? Other side of the coin,  Measure B survives…..has the city forecasted how it will deal with even more officers leaving?

    • Marie all your comments are based on the hype of Pete pier reed Liccardo lies.  This crisis started with the mayor saying we were 65o mill short NBC proved that was lie.  City has millions in several different reserve funds.  Who do you believe 600 cops that quit or Pete?  Remember the cops gave Pete the boot when they caught him lying.  And today Pete is still using the 650 lie.

      • “All” is a big word Smokey, if you would like to state something you believe to be a fact, why don’t you do a little research first.  For starters, in my comment, I attributed the “fiscal emergency” comment to Reed.  Nowhere in my comment does it state that I believe any of the BS the council or mayor spews on a daily basis.  Feel free to scour the rest of SJI for my comments to see where my allegiance lies.

        My point was it appears the Reed/Liccardo staffing memo is hinged on Measure B surviving the court battle, which seems foolish considering its more than likely to get stricken down.  But what if by some small chance, it’s upheld….then what?  Another mass exodus of employees…….

        • And then there was reed’s threat that if measure b doesn’t pass, they will have to go back to laying off employees. Who is he trying to fool with that threat? How many more officers or other employees does he feel he can lay off and still keep the city running? It is already running on a thread. He has proven himself to be a big bag of bad wind. The sooner his term is up, the better.

    • Marie

      Dont believe the hype , The last thing this City wants to do is” open the Books ” . It would come out that the City has been less than Honest in its Finances . As far as Measure B goes , it will be overturned in the courts simply because it is illegal . As far as planning ahead…………….Now your just asking too much. that would be inconceivable .

  5. From Protect SJ

    JIM UNLAND is president of the San Jose Police Officers Association and a Sergeant in the San Jose Police Department.

    Councilmember Pete Constant has taken time from defending sugary drinks to join Mayor Reed and fellow mayoral aspirant Sam Liccardo to propose his own police-staffing plan. I am not well read on the qualifications for running for Mayor but it looks like writing a memorandum on police staffing is one of them.

    Pete wants everyone to know that he supports Reed’s, and his Mayoral rival Sam’s, call for hiring an additional 200 officers but acknowledges it will be difficult. To bolster his case, he references the Acting Police Chief in his memorandum, “Our police chief has told us there is a maximum throughput capacity, and that even reaching this capacity with the financial resources we have, we will struggle to add any meaningful number of new officers to the streets.”

    I’ve written about Reed and Liccardo’s politically motivated, unrealistic and disingenuous plan, so to be fair, I want to take a look at Pete Constant’s latest idea.  His memorandum is titled “Incentive Program for SJPD Re-Hires and Lateral Hires”. What’s amazing about Pete’s memo is that it demonstrates an incredibly high level of ignorance as to the consequences of the City’s 2nd Tier pension plan that he helped craft and vote for.

    Pete wants to provide a “substantial” signing bonus for SJPD officers who resigned and want to return to SJPD.  He also wants to provide a signing bonus (he didn’t use the word “substantial” on this one) to lateral police officers that choose to come work for the SJPD.

    Pete pointed out that “… we also know that several officers have returned to the SJPD.” Just a few weeks ago, I asked the Department how many of the nearly 170 or so officers who had recently resigned had come back to work for the SJPD.  The answer was less than 10.

    Less than 10. That was before the 2nd Tier pension plan was implemented. Many don’t know it, but Pete fancies himself to be quite the pension expert. Pete travels the country on the taxpayer’s dime attending conferences so that he can pretend to be the resident expert on San Jose’s pension plan. That’s why it’s so interesting that Pete never once mentions the 2nd Tier pension plan in his memo. For that matter neither did the memorandum from Reed and Liccardo. It is almost pathological the way they are all able to ignore the policy decisions they supported and the votes they took that are responsible for our inability to attract laterals and re-hires and retain existing officers. It will also be the reason we will soon see the resignations of our newest officers.

    Pete should know that any laterals or re-hires that choose to come work for the SJPD will automatically be enrolled in the 2nd Tier pension plan. It is a pension plan so uncompetitive and risky that even Cheiron, the independent actuarial firm retained by the retirement board, wrote in a report going to the retirement board that, “As a result, upon re-hire, a member may suffer a significant reduction in the value of their retirement benefit.” and “With potentially significant reductions in the value of benefits upon re-hire, what communication should be provided to the member before they accept employment and who should provide it?” That is government-speak that says somebody better make sure any re-hire or lateral fully understands what a raw deal they will get when they don the SJPD uniform.

    Maybe Pete would pay more attention to the 2nd Tier pension plan if he had been enrolled in it when he says he was injured on the job. Under the new restrictions placed on the eligibility to receive a disability pension, Pete would not have qualified for the very disability pension he has been receiving for so many years now.

    Who are these people and what makes them think they have the character, the morals and the integrity to lead a City of a million people?

    There is one last aspect of Pete’s proposal that must be exposed. If someone left the San Jose Police Department and decided to come back, that person will receive a “substantial” signing bonus. How large a bonus?  According to Pete’s memo, “…reflecting up to 50% of the savings realized by not putting a new hire through training, e.g., police academy, in-house academy, and the full field-training program.” It has been estimated that it costs the City approximately $170,000 per officer to take them from the point of recruiting them to apply all the way through the FTO process. Up to 50% equals $85,000 dollars, not a small amount of money.

    Keep in mind this is only for San Jose Police re-hires “…who left the SJPD between January 1, 2012 and August 30, 2013”. So if you are one of the less than 10 officers who left and have already returned, tough break. Even more controversial, if you are a San Jose officer who never left, who continues to work here for 10% less pay, limited time off and an ever increasing stressful environment, well, you don’t get anything either.

    The great ideas just keep on coming.  Thanks Pete.

    • What I don’t understand… If San Jose PD is such a terrible place to work, why does Sergeant Upland still work there.

      • its obvious you dont understand. some individuals are between a rock and a hard place. there are many reasons why individuals who want to leave can’t .

      • Now THAT was one of the most ignorant statements I have ever seen on SJI.  Wonderful vision you have there.  My guess is that you work for one of them.  I am sure thats a safe guess.

  6. Why do we need 1250+ police staff at $100k-$120k per year each anyway?!? You’re saying $1.5 Billion is needed to “maintain the safety and order” in one of the safest cities in the country?

    This is an antiquated model that’s unsustainable in every way, especially when it comes to their looming pension tab (retire @ 50-55 yrs?!?)

    Schools, colleges, shopping malls, sporting venues, public transportation hubs/airports, and downtown area(s) simply need to boost their PRIVATE armed guards AND video surveillance presence. Police can take care of serious crime and quit wasting time on slashed tires and late night nuisance complaints.

    It’s 2013 and time to move on, otherwise we’ll be taxing ourselves into oblivion.

    • Security guards can not arrest those who slash your tires.  Security guards can not knock on your neighbors door and ask him to turn music down.  Nice thought but dumb….

    • Yeah , Let me know how that works out for you . This “USED” to be one of the safest citys in america . do some research and youll see how far san jose has fallen. Buckle up , its going to get worse before it gets any better.

    • Vanilla = Tam Truong perhaps…. The resident traitor. Smells like a fishing expedition for TAPS security. You know the security guards that have to call 911 for the real police to arrive to ie make and arrest, cut a citation or notify a suspect that he is tresspassing… come on nice try pal

  7. Let us also work to bring Code Enforcement back up to useful levels.  Code Enforcement is the primary tool to keep East San Jose livable, and since it has been cut back, people are having a field day modifying homes with no permits.  Many of these residents come from third world countries with no living standards, so they think they can do in ESJ whatever they used to do back home.

  8. Are you F in kidding me? Who would want to come back to this cesspool? It is like being in a bad relationship with your girlfriend. Everyone says “why are you with her? It’s not until you get out of the relationship that you say “what was I thinking, how could I’ve been with her?  Like they say “you can’t see the forest through the trees”
        Now that I am out of my “San Jose” relationship, never in a million years would I come back.  It is so much better at my new department.  How did I stay in SJ that long?
      Reed, Sam and Pete just don’t get it. They have never got it and never will.  Good luck to all my former co-workers at SJPD. Get out if you can. You will not regret it and you will never look back. You’ll be saying “man, what was I thinking staying there

  9. Pete,
    You are such a hypocrite for what comes out of your mouth regarding the police department, as long as everyone else running for mayor. You have helped destroy this department and caused hundreds of officers to flee from here.

  10. Lets see San Jose police officers are currently at 2004 wages.  Mayor Reed and Liccardo (what a joke) want to give SJPD their 10% within the next four years bringing them back to 2009 wages.  By then it will be 2017 and they haven’t received a real wage increase for about 13 years.  So I am asking who in the heck would stay, this plan is a joke.  San Jose will continue to spiral with city leaders like this.

  11. Pete,
    If you are well enough for the daily rigor and grind of being Mayor, how about you come back to work pushing a patrol car at the police department, and quit taking your lifetime and tax-free medical retirement that the City of San Jose is paying you, supported in large part by payroll deductions of working San Jose Police Officers??? You know, the same officers and you don’t think would deserve the same benefit for getting hurt at work that you have been getting for years.

    • I’m not really sure but I think the physicians can pull a disability if they feel there has been a change in condition. If that is the case, they should put him on light duty. I am sure they can see that he is able to function. Put him on light, station duty and release an officer to patrol.

  12. ET Smokey Bear,

    Could you please tell us the “true” amount of Officers we still have left in SJPD? I heard we have a little over 900.

    Thanks in advance.

    • It’s a great question, and again depending on who you talk too.  You hear that there were at one time1420.  Yet you can see a YouTube video where chief Davis are talking about 1500 and Reed tells the audience that SJPD is short 600 officers and he is going to add 25 more. (I know big whoop).  When Pete Pier Liccardo and reed started the crisis with saying we were650 mill short, there was close to 1500.  250 cops some wit only 25 years on retired immediately,  Biggest retirement in history.  Then over next 3 years another 250 quit or retired.  You will not find a street beat cop with 30 years on.  The cops on the beat are best judge on numbers and it may be around 800 that can work. Add another 100 that are injured.  When cops use to go to area with 7-8 now they go to same area with 2-3.  Extremely dangerous for them. Reed likes to talk academy’s while SJPD had one academy of 44 SFPD had 3 of over 60. 4 of the 44 have quit.  When they get out academy it takes over a year to get the new officer up to speed.  You will read that SJPD is short on cops for several decades now.  Reed and Liccardo are idiots if they say they can restaff the police dept with 400.  Who will stay in SJ and work for half the pay they can get anywhere else. Read other post here from disgruntled cops.  Taxpayers will spen millions to train cops and have them flee to another agency,  the ones who stay will be the rejects of other PD.

      • Thank you ET Smokey Bear. I knew the numbers I’ve been hearing are incorrect. I know we don’t have over a thousand Officers on duty. I must say that I am truly impressed by the excellent work and service we are getting from our overworked, understaffed Police Department. Bravo to all of you.

        I agree that our City needs to do something to work with our PD to resolve this crisis immediately. I work with victims of crime and families who have lost their loved ones to homicide. It’s really heartbreaking.

        What do you think needs to be done to resolve this crisis?

        I want to thank all of you for your service. Please be safe out there.

        • Kathleen,

          Thank you again for all your support on Public Safety-related issues. Although we don’t always agree on every issue, you’ve been vocal, clear and consistent in your support – especially of Police Officers.

          KTVU did a piece in which they posted the most current numbers. (http://www.ktvu.com/news/news/local/city-oks-strategy-fund-new-police-officers-restore/nZmGT/)
          Right now, we have 996 sworn (unkown how many on disability) and 43 in the Academy, about to graduate. This year, the PD has seen 50 resignations by officers who have accepted positions elsewhere and another 25 retirements. This is consistent with the POA message that the PD is losing about 100 officers per year to resignations and retirements.

          There is an interesting piece on protectsanjose.com in which Jim Unland dismantles the Reed Liccardo fantasyland proposal.

          http://www.protectsanjose.com/content/reedliccardo-staffing-plan-does-not-add.

          Additionally, I don’t know how those police officers who remain at SJPD can see Pete Constant’s proposal to entice to return to SJPD officers who’ve left the department for (much much) greener pastures as anything but a slap in the face. Basically, his proposal is this: give them a (re-)signing bonus of about $85k or about 85% of an officers annual gross salary if they come back. Unfortunately, his proposal does absolutely nothing to encourage those officers who are still with the PD to remain. They’re getting the same raw deal that they have for the last few years.

        • Officer Anonymous,

          Thank you for your kind words. I will always support you men/women even when we disagree at times.

          I must tell you that I am still deeply concerned for the health and safety of our Officers. The long hours, the lack of sleep, and downtime is just simply not healthy. I have so many friends on the force that are injured, sick, or exhausted, that it makes me wonder how you cope with it! Gangs and criminals out number you all in droves!

          I’ve got my paws crossed that we get a decision on Measure B soon, so that once it is struck down, you can get back to the table with HONEST, GOOD FAITH negotiations.

        • They have messed things up so bad, they don’t have any idea where to start to try to fix it. This is a really big mess they have created. Really big.

  13. Let no one mistake the hot air emanating from the likes of Messrs. Constant and Liccardo as efforts to responsibly repair the crippled and sinking ship that was once the San Jose Police Department. They know it can’t be done, so they will do what can be done: continue to lie to the public. These schemes, fashioned as they are to appear reasonable to the uninformed, are aimed at the voting public, a public that is grossly uninformed thanks to the efforts of a foolish, hardheaded administration and a biased local newspaper.

    What was done to the SJPD is best understood when viewed as a hostile takeover. The department’s most valuable assets were liquidated by the Reed administration so that our elected leaders might continue to service the debts (promises) owed political supporters (which explains how Reed could claim a fiscal emergency while at the same time stuffing Lew Wolff’s pockets with city assets). This need to immediately free up money is the reason that Reed, when faced with a loss of pension assets, chose a dramatic and alarming short-term fix rather than the long term approach traditionally used to address challenging debts. The PD assets targeted were the its trained, experienced personnel. The goal was to subtract enough of them from the City payroll so that, despite the devastating impact of the financial collapse, there would be enough money in the treasury to pay off the most pressing political debts.

    The subtraction was done in a manner that emphasized the “hostile” in hostile takeover: brutalize employees with layoffs, pay cuts, and reduced benefits; terrorize them by undermining their basic security; dispute their market value; scapegoat and slander them before the shareholders (the public). It was an effective technique, at least up to the point where its effects became unstoppable.

    The exodus of additional hundreds of valued assets (their value validated by their new employers) was not predicted, but it should’ve been. For along with the pay, benefits, and security stripped from department members, the City stripped them of something not subject to negotiation: their trust in the SJPD. This was the real disaster.

    Trust is the true agency (power) of any police agency (organization). It is the element that transforms a collection of individuals into a force—one that can dedicate itself to a set of values, each other, even the most difficult and dangerous of missions. It is the level of that trust that separates the good departments from the bad. It is, like character, a quality that cannot be created from the outside: neither proclaimed, legislated, or purchased with a grant.

    Due to the efforts of the Reed administration the SJPD has been turned into a collection of individuals. They still trust and care for each other (which is why they understand and support those leaving), but they can no longer trust the city that employs them, the public they serve, or their bought-and-sold police administration (loyal only to their ambitions and résumés).

    Reed squandered an asset that few large American cities have ever been fortunate enough to acquire. Rebuilding that trust—and the department—will take at least a decade, but it is a task that cannot even begin until Chuck Reed and every one of his jackals is gone.

  14. Looks like PC has to do something being that Reed and Licardo have teamed up to showcase their own non-plan. It appears to me that Reed has chosen Licardo as his “heir apparent” and Disability Pete must now run on his own. Hope his back problem doesn’t slow him down.

  15. Pete,
    Doesn’t your conscience ever bother you ripping on folks with a pension on your public Facebook site, even though you get a lifetime pension worth millions of dollars. It is amazing how all your groupies on your Facebook site never question this pension you receive, just as long as you spout the stuff the want you to stay. Hypocrite.

  16. Pete,
    With you as the council’s liaison to the Police and Fire Retirement Board, how come you don’t go to many meetings, and when you do you only stay for part of the actual meeting?

      • If Pete were Mayor, he is the type of leader that would take subordinates to task, assuming they are getting away with the same type of things he use to do when he was in their position. With him as a council-member, he has done this time after time with the officers of SJPD. The proverbial do as I say, not as I have done, cause that is the kind of guy Pete is.

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