RT Financials Showing Positive Trend for Fiscal Year 2018

Source: Sacramento Regional Transit District Media  |  2017-04-20

The Sacramento Regional Transit District (Sac RT) has been relentlessly optimizing business practices over the past eight months to bring its financial house in order, and the positive results are very encouraging. In Fiscal Year (FY) 2017, Sac RT is trending below budget. This has allowed Sac RT to develop a budget for FY 2018 that is expected to be $1.6 million less than the prior year.

 Additionally, by working diligently over the past year with rating agencies, last week Sac RT received great news from Moody’s, a bond credit rating service, that upgraded Sac RT’s bond rating from “negative” watch to “stable” outlook, which will help Sac RT to issue future bonds at a much better interest rate for regional capital projects. The significant transformation that Sac RT has made in the last year, as well as strong political support and strong board governance, is building up RT’s long-term financial stability, which will continue to move Sac RT in a new direction.

Under the direction of Henry Li, General Manager/CEO, Sac RT committed to strengthening its finances while making the system more clean, safe and convenient for riders. Sac RT has identified innovative revenue sources, strengthened its finances and reduced expenses to fund maintenance and capital investments. By aggressively containing costs and pursuing revenue enhancement opportunities, Sac RT has secured more than $3 million in operating funding, which helped enhance customer services.

“At a time when many public agencies are increasing budgets, we have been able to reduce ours. We are figuring out innovative ways to do more with less.” said Henry Li, General Manager/CEO. “Our number one priority is the customer, and the ability to reduce the annual budget without cutting service or increasing fares is a huge victory from where Sac RT was a year ago.”

Based on these positive trends, Sac RT projects to add to its fund balance for the first time in three years, and build up an emergency cash reserve of $6 million (with a 2017 year-end goal of $9 to $10 million). This will go a long way towards reducing Sac RT’s reliance on its line of credit to pay bills, a goal set by the Board of Directors.

By building strong employee and labor relations, Sac RT has been able to identify ways to reduce the annual increases associated with salaries and benefits that continue to offer value to employees, at a sustainable cost. There will only be a small increase in spending in this category for FY 2018, which is expected to be $1.95 million, or 1.8 percent, a modest amount for an organization that provides over 1,000 jobs to the region.


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North Ridge Country Club Launches $3.5 Million Renovation Plan

Story by Jacqueline Fox  |  2017-04-20

Long-awaited plans for renovating one of the region’s oldest private country clubs is officially underway at North Ridge Country Club. The new course is expected to officially open in early 2018. 
-- Photo courtesy North Ridge Country Club

Long-awaited plans for renovating one of the region’s oldest private country clubs is officially underway at North Ridge Country Club, involving a $3.5 million overhaul that promises members and guests at the club alike a trail of new greens and bunkers on par with some of the finest courses in the world.

The club’s membership overwhelmingly approved the renovation plan and began the bid process for contracting roughly a year ago, ultimately selecting Palo Alto-based Robert Trent Jones II Golf Course Architects (RTJ II) for the project, which is credited for development of more than 270 golf courses across 40 countries and six continents.  “We got it down to three finalists for the design of our new course, and then we took it down to one, and RTJ II won out,” said North Ridge General Manager, Rink Sanford.

During an April 6 groundbreaking for the project, Robert T. Bruce Charlton, president and chief design officer for RTJ II, said the course would be going from good to outstanding, likening the ultimate overhaul to a “My Fair Lady” transformation, Sanford said.

“I love the quote Robert gave at our ground-breaking,” said Sanford. “He said ‘I like to compare North Ridge Country Club to a classy older woman who is beautiful and graceful, but just in need of a new dress.’  To me, his description just perfectly crystalizes what North Ridge is all about and how beautiful she really is.”

RTJII founder Robert Trent Jones, who passed away in 1987, is known for cutting trail of legendary successes in the completion of some of the country’s most notable golf courses, beginning with a winning contract to design the Peachtree Golf Club in Atlanta in collaboration with golf legend Bobby Jones, followed up by securing a commission to redesign the 11th and 16th holes at Augusta National Golf Club.

Coveted for its high-elevation and rolling terrain, North Ridge Country Club was founded in 1952 by architects William Francis Bell and his son, Billy Jr., renown for crafting elite courses at Rivera Country Club, Bel-Air Country Club and Torrey Pines, among others.

The 18-hole parkland golf course at North Ridge Country Club is spread across approximately 165 rolling green acres on Madison Avenue in Fair Oaks.  Although the club’s event center and adjacent buildings were renovated in 1997, the 63-year old course itself, says Sanford, will be getting its first upgrade, a much needed makeover to keep the facility competitive with other private clubs in the region and beyond.

“This is a fine course and we have good conditions, but what we are really doing now is modernizing and making an investment in our course to stay competitive in the private club market,” Sanford said.

North Ridge was designed incorporating an old push-up mound construction method, explained Sanford, which has, over time, created drainage issues for the course, spurred by deteriorating root structures, all of which have created challenges for players and rendered the course vulnerable to erosion.

“Our forefathers picked a phenomenal place to put in a course,” said Sanford.  “We are at the highest point in the area and we are blessed with a lot of rolling hills and terrain, but the old push-up method that was used to design the course originally needs to be addressed.”

Sampson said that the course’s natural elevation changes will allow RTJII to redesign the club’s greens and bunkers to take advantage of its hilly topography in ways “that were simply not possible many years ago,” adding construction of the new greens and bunkers will be achieved without disrupting mature trees that have called North Ridge home for decades.

“Today, players really want greens with solid drainage, and so what this will do for us is allow us to keep the mature trees and the rolling hills, but in and around the greens and bunkers we’ll be adding better drainage to bring the course in line with some of the most competitive, high-caliber golf courses anywhere in the world,” Sanford said.

Meanwhile, high-quality, temporary bentgrass sod greens are being created to offer members temporary greens to utilize during the construction process.

In addition to the cache of a world-class design firm capturing the bid for the renovations, the renovation project will also have a local touch.  RTJII’s Senior Project Architect, Mike Gorman was raised in Sacramento and is reported to have grown up playing the course.  “This is like home to us,” RTJII’s Charlton said.  “We travel all around the world, and having a project near our offices in Palo Alto, with Mike’s family still living in Sacramento, makes this extra special.”

The new course is expected to officially open in early 2018, Sanford said. While there are no increases on the horizon this year for membership fees, it is anticipated that fees will increase once the new course is fully operational.  The current annual membership fee for North Ridge is $6,500, however, due to the construction, which is expected to run through August, the club is offering a promotion of $4,500, which runs through June.

“The long-term hope is that once the new course is up and fully operational in early 2018, our membership price will go up, and that will be in keeping with what’s going on with other clubs and membership fees at private courses across the country,” Sanford said.

Membership at North Ridge, said Sanford, is currently at 463, near full capacity. To cover the costs of the project, members voted to each pay their share of the $3.5 million, for a total of roughly $8,000 or $60 a month each.


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Legislation to Fix Security Flaw in State’s Voter File Passes First Hurdle

Source: Office of Senator Nielsen  |  2017-04-20

In a rare moment of bipartisanship, the Senate Committee on Elections and Constitutional Amendments unanimously voted to pass Senator Jim Nielsen’s measure to fix a security flaw the state’s voter file.

“Our democracy is an honor system based on trust,” said Senator Jim Nielsen (R-Tehama). “We must do everything we can to protect its integrity and keep the trust of the people. This measure will help ensure that trust.”

“I thank my colleagues on the committee for their support,” added Senator Nielsen.

Senate Bill 682, if passed, would prohibit the Department Motor Vehicles (DMV) from giving the Secretary of State electronic information needed to complete the voter registration affidavit for ineligible voters who hold special drivers’ licenses for noncitizens.

California’s current online voter registration system automatically allows the voter registration of anyone with a drivers’ license who self-certifies that they are eligible to vote – including individuals DMV knows to be ineligible because they were issued special noncitizen drivers’ licenses. These noncitizen drivers’ licenses do not establish voter eligibility, yet the online voter registration system only requires a drivers’ license number. As a result, undocumented residents may be unlawfully registered to vote.

There is no protocol for communication between the Secretary of State and the Department of Motor Vehicles to prevent these registrants from being approved under current law.

“Keeping the voter roll clean and up-to-date is a challenging task. This bill helps fill a gap in the security of the voter roll,” said Candace Grubbs, Butte County Elections Clerk-Recorder.

Senator Nielsen represents the Fourth Senate District, which includes the counties of Butte, Colusa, Glenn, Placer, Sacramento, Sutter, Tehama and Yuba. To contact Senator Jim Nielsen, please call him at 916-651-4004, or via email at senator.nielsen@sen.ca.gov.


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Tax Freedom Day Late Again for California

From George Runner  |  2017-04-19

George Runner, State Board of Equalization

Californians who have filed their income tax returns by the April 18 deadline will unfortunately have to wait eight days longer than the rest of the nation until they’ve collectively earned enough money to pay off their total tax bill for the year.

Tax Freedom Day, calculated annually by the Tax Foundation, is the day when Americans have earned enough money to pay their taxes at the federal, state and local levels.

Nationally, Tax Freedom Day lands on April 23, but for California it lands on May 1.

“For some lawmakers, this terrible distinction seems to be a badge of honor,” said Board of Equalization Vice Chair George Runner. “With liberal politicians recently voting to increase gas and car taxes, I fear this day will come even later next year for hardworking taxpayers.”

According to the Tax Foundation, Americans will pay $3.5 trillion in federal taxes and $1.6 trillion in state and local taxes, for a total tax bill of $5.1 trillion, or 31 percent of national income. That’s more than Americans will collectively spend on food, clothing and housing combined.

Compared to other states, California’s Tax Freedom Day is one of the latest in the nation. Only Massachusetts, New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have later dates.

George Runner represents more than nine million Californians as an elected member of the State Board of Equalization. For more information, visit www.boe.ca.gov/Runner.


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More Taxes on Cigarettes and Electronic Vaping Devices

Source: California State Board of Equalization  |  2017-04-13

California voters approved Proposition 56, which increased the excise tax rate on cigarettes and expanded the definition of “tobacco products” to include any type of tobacco, nicotine, little cigars, and electronic cigarettes sold in combination with nicotine.

On April 1, 2017, the cigarette tax rate increased from $0.87 to $2.87 per pack of 20 cigarettes. In addition, the distribution of nicotine delivery devices – including, but not limited to, electronic cigarettes, e-cigars, e-pipes, vape pens, and e-hookahs – sold in combination with substances containing nicotine are now subject to the current tobacco products tax rate of 27.30 percent of the wholesale cost of the product.

Nicotine delivery devices sold independently and not in combination with any liquid or substance containing nicotine are not subject to excise tax. This includes any battery, battery charger, carrying case, or any other accessory used in the operation of a nicotine delivery device.

Any product approved by the U. S. Food and Drug Administration as a tobacco cessation product or other therapeutic purpose when that product is marketed and sold for such approved use (for instance, nicotine patches) will also not be subject to the excise tax.

Additional information regarding the provisions of Proposition 56 is available online. You may also view the BOE’s online Cigarette and Tobacco Products Tax Guide on the BOE website.

The five-member California State Board of Equalization (BOE) is a publicly elected tax board that hears business tax appeals, acts as the appellate body for franchise and personal income tax appeals, and serves a significant role in the assessment and administration of property taxes. The BOE collects $60.5 billion annually in taxes and fees, supporting state and local government services. For specific help, please contact the BOE at 1-800-400-7115.


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Everything Old is New Again!

Source: Sacramento Capitolaires   |  2017-04-13

The Sacramento Capitolaires, the area’s premiere male a cappella singing group since 1946, will present “Everything Old is New Again!” on Saturday, April 22, 2017 at Christ Community Church, 5025 Manzanita Avenue, Carmichael. The performance will be held at 2:00 p.m.

Performing with the Capitolaires chorus and quartets will be Whatever 4 (Sweet Adeline quartet), HICKS (Barbershop comedy quartet), and TNT Jazz Band (Youth Honor Band). The Sacramento Capitolaires is a non-profit organization and members of the Barbershop Harmony Society and Sacramento Metro Chamber.

Tickets are $15.00. They can be purchased at the door, online at www.capitolaires.org  or by calling (888) 877-9806.

Membership in the chapter offers men an opportunity to improve their singing ability, participate in competition with other chapters, present public shows and concerts in the Sacramento metropolitan area, and nurture valuable friendships. For information about membership, please call (888) 877-9806.


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Easter Egg Hunts Galore!

From Supervisor Susan Peters  |  2017-04-12

Several community Egg Hunts for children will be held this Saturday, April 15, and each is open to the public. Below is a list to choose from:

Arden Manor Egg Hunt at Deterding Park, 1415 Rushen Drive. Free Egg Hunt at 9:30 am rain or shine. For more information, visit the Arden Manor Recreation and Park District website.

Arden Park Easter Egg-Stravaganza at Arden Park, 1000 La Sierra Drive. Carnival games 8:30-10 am, Pancake Breakfast 8:30-10 am ($5.00 per person) and Egg Hunt at 10:15 am ($3.00 per child). For more information, visit the Arden Park Recreation and Park District website.

Carmichael Egg Hunt at Carmichael Park, 5750 Grant Avenue. Pancake Breakfast by Kiwanis Club 7 to 11 am ($5 per adult/$3 children 12 and under). Free Egg Hunt at 10 am sharp rain or shine. For more information, visit the Carmichael Recreation and Park District website.

Fair Oaks Easter Eggstravaganza at Fair Oaks Park, 1549 Fair Oaks Boulevard. Activities 9am-1pm include Free Egg Hunt for children Ages 0-13 plus fee charges for carnival games, inflatables, choo-choo ride, and breakfast by Lions Club ($5 for adults/$3 for children) Note adult egg hunt, too ($3 to participate)! For more information, visit the Fair Oaks Recreation and Park District website.

Fulton-El Camino Egg-O-Rama & Pancake Breakfast at Howe Park, 2201 Cottage Way. Pancake Breakfast 8-11 am ($3 per person) Carnival and Egg Hunt ($5 participation) Carnival 9:30 am-12 pm, Egg Hunt Ages 0-2 & 3-4 at10:15 am and Ages 5-7 & 8-12 at 11:15 am. For more information, visit the Fulton-El Camino Recreation and Park District website.

Mission Oaks Easter Blast at Swanston Community Center, 2350 Northrop Avenue. Egg Hunt, Games and Crafts will be held12-2 pm. For more information, visit the Mission Oaks Recreation and Park District website.

North Highlands Spring Fling Eggstra! Eggstra! at Freedom Park, corner of Freedom Park and Dudley Boulevard. Free Community Egg Hunt Ages 1-4 at 10:15 am, Ages 5-8 at 11 am, and Ages 9-12 at 11:10 am. For more information, visit the North Highlands Recreation and Park District website.


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