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Finally, here’s some good news for you… something to cheer about! The city of Irvine is scheduled to receive $134.5 million dollars over the next 17 years. This is the result of a reimbursement plan for Irvine’s recently-discovered overpayments to the Orange County Fire Authority. Turns out Irvine’s payments to the OCFA were for years based on a percentage of property tax revenue, a decision made back in 1978. As time marched on, tax revenues eventually outpaced the cost of fire services so, as in many other cases, citizens were paying way more taxes than they actually needed to pay.
Fortunately in this case, that error has been rectified and the OCFA has agreed to return that extra pay back to the people of Irvine…. actually, maybe not the people but the government. Yes… all that extra money that should rightfully return to the people who coughed it up in the first place may actually find itself spent on other programs, depending on the whims and wishes of people like City Manager Sean Joyce or City Council. Rather than consider how the people of Irvine would like this money to be returned or even spent, they are acting like they just received an early Christmas present, all to themselves!
Irvine Mayor Pro Tem Jeff Lalloway has stated he’d like to see these OCFA overpayments simply returned to the taxpayers, perhaps in the form of a rebate or tax break. Of course, an idea as simple as that simply can’t just get passed by the City Council, as if they were the ones who mistakenly forked over $134 million dollars out of their own checkbooks. Joyce has his own ideas… he’s in the process of drafting an entire LIST of projects to fund with these repayments, scheduled to begin in July 2014.
The council has simply dismissed the entire idea of returning money to taxpayers (the people who are the ones who provided this money in the first place, I CANNOT STRESS THIS ENOUGH!) as being too difficult. What exactly is difficult about recompensing the people? Rather than provide such oh-so-difficult refunds or tax breaks, council members unsurprisingly support using the funds to prop up several capital improvement projects, such as paying down Irvine’s unfunded pension liabilities (which were supposedly taken care of a few months ago but NOW apparently not?) and the possibility of establishing Irvine’s own fire stations in 2030?
Seriously, it is the people’s money, and the people should have the final say as to how it is used. Curiously, they haven’t stated that only part of that 134 million dollars is necessary for these capital projects… they seem to assume that ALL 134 million is needed… what a coincidence! Isn’t it fun to make plans with other people’s money? Most of us only get to do this when we’re playing Monopoly.
The attitude taken by the Council and City Manager is beyond debating, it is insulting to the people of the city they supposedly represent. Instead of representing the wishes of their electors, much less even considering or seeking out their wishes, they assume any money that comes back to Irvine is for them to use as they see fit. Maybe they think the citizens are indifferent or even believe that they know better than all of us do. Rather than simply stand by and allow them to do as they please with OUR money, maybe we should make ourselves heard. Irvine thrives and works because of its citizens, not because of its City Council… every once in a while the Council apparently needs to be reminded of that. This is one of those times.