WatchSonoma Watch
Romney’s returns and tax reform

Mitt Romney’s income tax return, showing an effective tax rate of 13.9 percent, doesn’t exactly bolster Republican arguments that taxes are sky high. But it may not boost Democratic bids to raise income tax rates, either.

GUEST OPINION: Now is not the time to raise taxes

Daniel A. Drummond, executive director of the Sonoma County Taxpayers’ Association, says Gov. Jerry Brown is presenting voters with a false choice: increase taxes or cut schools. He says the governor and the media are complicit in seeking to create a sense of fear by focusing on threatened cuts to high-profile services such as education and parks, or services to the poor and disabled. Instead, Drummond says, we should confront the real problems before us. What do you think?

GUEST OPINION: A high price for crumbling roads

It will take years to improve the condition of Sonoma County roads. A delay of even a few more years would be catastrophic, says Santa Rosa resident Craig Harrison, co-founder of Save Our Sonoma Roads. He says the Board of Supervisors must examine each item in the county budget and ask the following question: Why is this program or service more important than repairing our roads?

GUEST OPINION: Extend taxes to save California education

The governor’s May revision proposes that funding for education remain at 2009 levels for the next two years, but it also includes revenue from the extension of the temporary tax rates. This tax revenue is essential to settling the state’s legal debt obligation to schools.

Tax Day protests target BofA

UPDATE 4:55 PM: Protesters upset with corporate tax breaks marked Monday’s tax filing deadline by staging a demonstration outside the Bank of America branch in downtown Santa Rosa. The noon rally was part of a nationwide series of protests organized by MoveOn, a liberal advocacy group. A similar demonstration was scheduled Monday evening at the Bank of America branch in Sonoma.

GUEST OPINION: Petaluma police union: ‘Don’t raise taxes’

Petaluma has caused some of the budget problems it now faces, says Paul Gilman, president of the union that represents the city’s police officers. But it can also get itself out of the mess, he says. Gilman lays out eight suggestions. What do you think about the ideas?

GUEST OPINION: Layoffs begin as schools prepare for the worst

Sonoma County schools are preparing to issue layoff notices to 200 teachers and administrators. Santa Rosa school board member Frank Pugh and SEIU representative Maria Peluso want Sonoma County residents to contact lawmakers and urge them to place an extension of temporary taxes on the June ballot. Without it, they say, schools across the state could be forced to cut four or five weeks out of the school year.

Santa Rosa shorted $600,000 by clerical error

A routine audit of Santa Rosa property tax revenues revealed that a clerical error caused the county tax collector to shortchange the city’s redevelopment agency by $600,000 over the past four years. The mistake was discovered by a Fresno firm that works on a contingency basis, getting 25 percent of whatever it recovers for the city. Ka-ching!

Will Republicans let Californians vote on tax hikes?

Gov. Jerry Brown and Democratic lawmakers need five Republican votes to put a $9 billion tax extension plan to a public vote in June. But an anti-tax pledge signed by nearly all GOP lawmakers appears to stand in their way. It is the creation of anti-tax activist Grover Norquist, who notified Republicans last month that placing Brown’s taxes on the ballot would violate their pledge to oppose all tax increases. “Who appointed this Washington, D.C. lobbyist king of the state of California?” asks state Sen. Noreen Evans.

Congress grants temporary pay raise to most Americans

The tax package passed by Congress in December included a provision to temporarily reduce Social Security deductions from workers’ paychecks by 2 percent. The typical family in Sonoma County will take home an extra $104 a month.

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