Tax-time Bites



What does it take for a mayoral candidate to be taken seriously in this town? At least $500,000.

Which is bad news for Shawn Eldredge, who’s running a definitively no-budget campaign and has watched, frustrated, as the mayor’s race turns into a showcase of money and celebrity.

“I thought I was going to get my doors blown off by people who are smart,” Eldredge said of the alarming lack of substance in the race so far—or at least in the local media’s coverage of the race so far.

“They’re giving all this air time to this guy who’s putting out fluff. But we need to be talking about nuts and bolts.”

The sad thing about the money primary is that Eldredge’s résumé actually isn’t half bad for this contest.

He ran the Midtown Business Association; he runs a busy contracting business. He’s been a regular at city council and community meetings. And unlike some candidates, he’s done a lot of homework.

“It’s all about the funding. We need to be talking about how we’re going to fund our city,” Eldredge told Bites last weekend.

That means figuring out how to fund a city that’s been too dependent on suburban-style development. “We’ve got to be talking about land use and how we’re going to make money on infill development.”

It also means raising taxes, not a proposition taken lightly by this fiscal conservative.

City officials are contemplating a property-tax measure to fund public safety, the police and firefighting agencies. But Eldredge is proposing a different approach: a sales tax to put more cops on the street. Numbers he got from city budget officials suggest a half-cent sales tax could net about $30 million. A new property-tax assessment would bring in something closer to $15 million.

Bites is not yet ready to endorse the cop tax; after all, as Eldredge pointed out, the picture gets a lot more complicated when you add in the need for some sort of new funding measure for public transportation.

Just having a solid proposal on the table is worth the price of admission. So, let’s see how the other candidates’ plans stack up. Like Eldredge, Bites is ready to have the old doors blown off by people who are smart.

Of course, it helps when people actually pay their taxes. The Franchise Tax Board earlier this month released its list of the top tax scofflaws in the state. The biggest deadbeat in the Sacramento area is the imposingly named B&B Property Investment Development and Management Company Inc., which is on the hook for $1,113,450.90 in unpaid corporate income taxes.

But in some ways more interesting is the Roseville-based Padwell Inc., listed by the FTB as owing $818,570.85.

A little clicking around showed that John and Roberta Padjen, the owners of Padwell, have been in tax trouble since the late ‘80s. They owned NASCAR-style speedways in Chico and Placerville and even faced jail time back in 1990 for unpaid taxes.

The weird, infuriating, there-obviously-is-no-God thing about their case is that, in the middle of the whole investigation, the couple won $4 million in the state lottery. Wouldn’t that have been a good time to catch up on some bills?