I’m writing this in response to Staff Writer Justin Lafferty’s recent reporting on Antioch Police Crime Prevention Commissioner Bill Cook’s proposed parcel tax increase to help the city hire more police officers (30) community service officers (20) and code enforcement officers (number not specified).
Councilman Gary Agopian commented that property values have been tumbling in recent years along with property values and that he believes Antioch residents would be open to a marginal increase in property taxes to aid the city’s overworked police staff.
Agopian further stated that property values have gone down and it’s a good idea to reinvest part of that. Cook also was quoted as saying we have to do something and this is a start … to ensure our kids have a safe place to go to school … and to attract business to come here to Antioch.
I’ll start by exclaiming, “Balderdash!” at the myopic and self-serving viewpoints expressed above by employed officials of Antioch. First off, why is the Antioch Police Department short on manpower? It is because police officer association members have chosen not to take a cut in pay and pension benefits; rather, letting vacant positions remain unfilled while police safeguard their obscene compensation packages.
Their compensation packages are obscene by any normal time’s standards, virtually bankrupting every jurisdiction in the state; however, by hard time’s standards, they are more of a punch to the gut of homeowners struggling to keep their heads above water.
Police officers will be quick to point out that they have “postponed” pay raises due to them over the past couple of years. Not sacrificing them to begin to accrue a pot for hiring new officers, just postponing them until they retire, at which time their 90-percent to 100-percent and even higher pensions will kick in, inflated by those same postponed pay raises, the sale of unused sick leave and vacation, overtime, temporary “acting” promotions and the like.
This is not a time of pain shared across the board. The employed continue to live, fat and happy, while the unlucky who have lost their jobs, along with homes, belongings, sometimes marriages and even self respect, grovel for crumbs beneath the banquet tables of the public employees living high on tax largess. Remember, less princely pay and pensions equals more police officers.
If Antioch were being run like a business, city management would have delivered an ultimatum to the police officers association to take a voluntary pay cut and reduction in retirement formulation, or we will lay-off X number of you and hire those willing to share the pain of the taxpayers under whose discretion you serve.
How dare Antioch’s governing members suggest higher taxation at a time when there has been absolutely zero improvement in property values and employment! Mr. Agopian, sir, my PERS pension has gone down due to a lower cost of living. What a laugh! With the exception of my ad valorem taxes dropping, none of my costs went down. They went up. Food is up. Gas is up. Medical costs are up. Appeals for my financial assistance are up. Mello-Roos taxes are still hanging around my neck like a millstone.
Unless Antioch administrators stop “inhaling” and wake up to the hell that is upon us like a plague, they all may well go the way of former mayor Freitas, banished to the land of turned-out-of-office-officialdom.
When sane public governance returns to this nation, the economy will hopefully recover to support all that we would like to have for our community. At least that’s the way I see it from my overtaxed abode.
James C. Morris, Sr., Antioch