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Crash tax could be repealed

by Brandon Darnell, published on March 1, 2011 at 10:06 PM

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Sacramento’s controversial “crash tax” might come off the books as early as next week.

Councilman Jay Schenirer, who initially voted for the fire cost recovery ordinance that would bill non-resident drivers for emergency responses to accidents in which they are at fault, called for the ordinance’s repeal Tuesday night.

He took advantage of a scheduled vote to approve a contract with outside billing company Fire Recovery USA and said he wanted to change his vote.

“I do think at this point it’s the wrong ordinance for the city,” he said, adding that he has taken time to reflect on his previous decision, and said the recent awarding of $5.6 million in federal grants puts the Fire Department in “slightly better shape” financially.

Councilman Steve Cohn disagreed with Schenirer.

“Our budget situation is not better,” he said. “Let’s be honest about that.”

The city is projecting a budget shortfall of $35 million - $40 million.

City staff and Fire Recovery USA projected the Fire Department would recover about $300,000 annually through the ordinance.

Roseville’s city council recently repealed a similar ordinance because it did not provide as much funding as anticipated in the year and a half it was in effect.

Mike Rivera, chief business development officer for the Roseville-based Fire Recovery USA, said Tuesday he considered the $300,000 projection for Sacramento to be conservative.

He said the shortfall in Roseville’s funding outcome was due to projections within the city that did not pan out.

“They didn’t receive the funds forecast, but that was internal,” he said.

One of the vocal opponents of the original ordinance in Sacramento, Councilman Darrell Fong, told The Sacramento Press before the meeting Tuesday that he was going to vote against the contract with Fire Recovery USA, which needed a two-thirds majority vote to pass.

That vote, however, was shelved, pending the outcome of the ordinance’s possible repeal.

“I certainly support the notion of revisiting this, frankly, to kill it,” Councilman Rob Fong said. “I just think it’s bad policy.”

Councilwoman Angelique Ashby said she still supports the ordinance.

“I just don’t think it’s wise to take any funding stream off the table,” she said. “For me, the fire cost recovery has always been about protecting our residents.”

She added that some areas in North Natomas have a response time of more than 10 minutes due to station brownouts.

Despite being on the consent calendar, where non-controversial items are typically placed, Fire Department spokesman Capt. Jonathan Burgess said he wasn’t surprised by the outcome, as the issue has been controversial at every step.

“With the budget that we’re looking at facing in the next fiscal year, yeah, every amount of money that we can recover will definitely help in the event of potential possible brownouts,” he said.

The vote to bring the ordinance back to the City Council for repeal was a 5-4 decision, with Schenirer switching his vote to join Rob Fong, Darrell Fong, Bonnie Pannell and Sandy Sheedy in opposing it.

Brandon Darnell is a staff reporter for The Sacramento Press.

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March 1, 2011 | 10:42 PM
“I certainly support the notion of revisiting this, frankly, to kill it,” Councilman Rob Fong said. “I just think it’s bad policy.”
Rob Fong is certainly on the right track with this. Among other things, the Sacramento crash tax gave exemptions to folks outside the city who owned businesses or rental properties in Sacramento. Essentially this says that someone can avoid a tax if you are a property or business owner. If you are not... pay up! Just a tad bit un-American, eh?

Maybe now Rob Fong can use his newfound common sense to also propose a repeal of the silly Arizona boycott that he sponsored. It is embarrassing that an alleged city leader would attack innocent businesses in Arizona and California with his self-serving boycott.

And I would love to change my avatar too!
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March 1, 2011 | 11:06 PM
It seems Angelique Ashby will need to learn all money is not good money, not to mention some of her comments appear to be gang-like mentality.... Charity does start at home; but for goodness sake, we are our brothers keeper. And our brothers shouldn't have to live in our district or city for that matter.... For gooness sake. Taxing someone for an accident to fill your budget woes is wrong.
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March 1, 2011 | 11:14 PM
Also, Kudos to Schenirer for switching his vote to join Rob Fong, Darrell Fong, Bonnie Pannell and Sandy Sheedy in opposing it.
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March 2, 2011 | 11:55 AM
...crash tax is a silly idea...get the business and corporate tax dodgers and tax cheats to pay up then, we can dispense with these schemes to raise funding on the backs of honest, hard working Americans...
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March 2, 2011 | 2:22 PM
Harry Osibin- Please give me some information on ..."corporate tax dodgers and tax cheats". Who are they? How do you know of this information? If you know someone is breaking the law, let's find a way to put them in jail.
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March 2, 2011 | 10:41 PM
tax rates on businesses are the lowest they've been since the '20s. Boeing, B of A, ExxonMobil and other giants have paid no federal income taxes in the last few years. Oil is the most profitable industry in this country yet you pay more in fed income taxes than the corps. Prosecute? I don't know; money talks. Tax corruption is ruining the political debate in this country. I know the info from media. Common sense works, too. Do you actually believe that working people have the capability to effect your life more than banks, insurance companies and health providers? Tax cuts don't create jobs. Otherwise the Bush tax cuts of 2001 should have us rolling in employment. We're not. BTW what part of my comment is egregious? You probably oppose the crash tax but don't agree that there is some other reason working people are scrambling for crumbs while the richest Americans are, well, rich.
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March 3, 2011 | 11:00 PM
How would getting more federal income tax out of Exxon help the City of Sacramento'sudget situation? I am confused.

Tax cuts don't create job? Really. Try to tell that to all the Southern states that have drawn in a wide range of high tech auto manufacturers and created tens of thousands of jobs. Explain it to Ireland (corp tax rate 15%) that tax policy can't create economic miracles.

You also may want to read the fine print on why Boeing, Exxon etc are receiving tax credits equal to their tax bill. Exxon pays a pretty crazy 47% global tax rate, most of it going to the countries who, you know, actually have the oil. Not exactly tax dodging. Federal law says that they don't need to pay US 39% corp tax rate if the global tax already paid exceeds that. Which makes sense, since if Exxon profits got hit with a 47% + 39% tax rate they would pull out US operation immediately. Exxon pays billions in sales taxes and duties, and employs thousands in the US, so this is still not a bad deal since the US and localities can get tax dollars from each employee.

We need more US headquartered multinational corporations not less, even if they are oil companies!
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