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Guest Opinion: ‘M’ is for Misleading

By Jayna Karpinski-Costa–
When I was in law school at Santa Clara, I recall reading a definition of the terrific Yiddish word “chutzpah:” when someone murders both parents and throws himself or herself on the mercy of the court for being an orphan.

Measure M: Citrus Heights council votes 4-1 to put $12M sales tax increase on ballot

The City of Citrus Heights has shown such “chutzpah” in offering the voters an opportunity to show mercy on its plight of indebtedness, clearly a result of its own lack of vigilance. They want you to pay more sales tax when you shop in Citrus Heights, like it’s YOUR fault because you want police protection, emergency services or paved streets.

When I served on the City Council from 2004-2012, the city showed sound financial management. Our former city manager, Henry Tingle, was an incredible and notorious tightwad, prioritizing spending and keeping us not only in the black, but creating a surplus (around $32 million).

EDITORIAL: Council should re-watch tribute to ‘Tightwad Tingle’ before $12M vote

The “crossover” point (when expenses exceeded income), steadily moved from somewhere about 2015-16 when I started, towards 2021-22 when I left.

The city knew this crossover was looming. But after Henry left, so did the reins that tightened spending. Even though our population has remained somewhat stable, the “appropriations limit” (the amount the city can spend from tax revenues) has grown from about $20 million at incorporation to nearly $58 million for FY 20-21.

Some people blame poor land use decisions and acquisitions, e.g. practically donating the Fountain Square property to Dignity Health for its Medical Office Building, buying Sayonara (still not developed) or Sylvan Corners (a dubious investment). Other people blame the building of the new city hall. But these decisions benefit the community in one way or another – better land use, more future property taxes.

What gripes my gizzard (a phrase of my former neighbor Naomi) are the high salaries we pay – with no more benefit to the community than a workforce at half the price. I urge you all to go to (data thru 2019) or (data thru 2018).

In salaries and benefits, our top eight dedicated employees each earn more than Governor Newsom! While the Chief Justice of the US Supreme Court only makes $267,000, our city manager in 2019 was given $411,610 in salary and benefits (add 4 exclamation marks)!!!!

And on the very same day (March 26) that the council formally declared a state of emergency in Citrus Heights due to the coronavirus pandemic, they passed a resolution giving pay raises to some employees. All this while other California cities are laying off employees and/or taking pay cuts!

Why not set priorities, tighten the belt, trim the fat, think outside the box and amend the current budget. Why not have that “citizens oversight committee” get to work NOW with the current tax revenues.

Yes, Citrus Heights is a great place to shop and dine, but only if the proposed sales tax increase fails. And Citrus Heights is a great place to work – if you work for the city.

Jayna Karpinski-Costa
Jayna Karpinski-Costa

Jayna Karpinski-Costa is a former Citrus Heights councilwoman and current president of the Sunrise Old Auburn Road neighborhood association.

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