Mayor says vote 'yes' on Measure Y tax
The Piedmont City Council recently placed Measure Y, the renewal of the Municipal Services Tax, on the Nov. 6 ballot.
Measure Y will have a direct impact on the quality and continuation of our city services. Measure Y is neither a new tax nor a tax increase. I am asking Piedmonters to renew the same Municipal Services Tax that has supported high-quality services in Piedmont for the past 32 years. Every dollar collected stays in Piedmont and benefits Piedmonters. Measure Y costs the vast majority of homeowners less than $9 a week.
Because the Municipal Services Tax generates about $1.63 million per year and funds about 7.28 percent of the city's annual expenditures of $22.4 million, its renewal is essential to maintain the excellent city services that assure the safety of our citizens and keep Piedmont an attractive place to live.
As an experienced financial executive, I am keenly aware of the importance of financial planning and fiscal controls. I formed the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee, and I established an annual five-year financial planning process. I am proud of the leadership that our city has shown by reducing pension benefits for new employees and increasing current employee contributions, in addition to freezing salaries for the past four years. Following extensive study, review and discussion of the city's finances, the committee concluded
I want voters fully informed about this important local measure. A detailed written discussion of general fund expenditures for Piedmont services and expected costs to homeowners has been sent to every Piedmont household and can also be found at www.yesonmeasurey.com.
Mayor City of Piedmont
Why I'm voting 'no' on city's Measure Y
The two-thirds requirement set by Proposition 13 is a high bar -- tax measures require broad support. Piedmont's municipal services tax faces another high bar -- it's temporary.
Piedmont voters haven't approved a permanent city parcel tax, because they wanted to reserve that additional level of oversight for themselves every four years. We also have a third oversight measure, the council-appointed Municipal Tax Review Committee, which exists for the sole purpose of advising the council each time the tax comes up for renewal.
One year ago, the MTRC issued a hard-hitting, unanimous report citing rapid and unsustainable growth in city expenditures, leading to growing deficits, deferred capital maintenance and depleted reserves. The most important recommendation was to freeze the amount spent on employee fringe benefits. The MTRC also recommended adopting risk management and project management measures identified by the Undergrounding Task Force, appointed by the Piedmont League of Women Voters.
Following my nearly successful council campaign, I was honored to be appointed to the new Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee. We, too, issued a unanimous report highlighting areas of unacceptable and growing financial risk to the city, most particularly employee fringe benefits.
There's no disagreement about the fiscal issues facing the city or their urgency. Where the two sides differ is whether voters should renew this tax no matter what, or instead withhold approval until these issues of financial risk and exposure are satisfactorily resolved by the council.
Of these 16 unanimous MTRC recommendations, my own score card finds the council has resolved four -- setting up the Budget Advisory Committee; doing five-year projections; postponing the parcel tax measure; and putting the sewer surcharge on last February's ballot.
Until these important reforms are accomplished, voters should exercise their checks and balances by voting No On Measure Y. Learn more at www.NoOnMeasureY.com.
member, Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Piedmont
Like public services? Renew parcel tax
Piedmont's parcel tax renewal is on the Nov. 6 ballot. It is an important vote for our community. The City Council is asking voters to renew the existing parcel tax (with no increase) for another four years. The parcel tax is essential to maintaining city services (70 percent of which are police, fire and paramedics with the other 30 percent for streets, parks, trees, sidewalks, etc.).
When I think about Piedmont, I consistently (even with our challenges) think of how blessed we all are to live in such a great town, with fantastic services that make this place really different from any other town I know. We have the best fire and police services and response times. We have beautiful and well maintained parks and streets and an urban forest that creates a canopy of beauty throughout the city. We have strong recreation programs for all families and camps for our kids, etc. We don't get everything right, but by and large, this is a phenomenally run city that consistently delivers for the community and spends money judiciously on behalf of the citizens. But make no mistake, we have almost no tax base and a very small budget and, without a parcel tax, the city cannot maintain its existing service levels.
In the past few years we've seen animosity toward the City Council for trying to build new fields for our kids in Piedmont. We've also seen frustration (much of it very reasonable in my mind!) about the undergrounding issues we faced while I was mayor. This has generated some ongoing negativity, among a group of people who consistently see Piedmont's glass as half-empty, generating attacks on everything about the way government is run in Piedmont.
This is a really special community, with amazing public services and it is my hope that as a community we all decide to keep it that way. Please join with Piedmonters who want to maintain the quality of our services in Piedmont and the beauty of our town and support Measure Y at existing levels.
former Piedmont Mayor Piedmont
City's commitments, spending need fixing
The refrain will be heard repeatedly over the coming weeks: It's a renewal, not a new tax, only $9 per week and necessary to maintain vital services. In truth, the parcel tax is unnecessary, wasteful and has nothing to do with funding essential services. Despite what is stated in the ballot argument for Measure Y, the proposition does not even have the unanimous support of the City Council.
In fact, two-thirds of the current parcel tax, millions of dollars, was used to fund the mismanaged Piedmont Hills undergrounding and the City Council-rejected Blair Park projects.
The Municipal Tax Review Committee, the Budget Advisory Committee and the Undergrounding Task Force have given the council a road map to fiscal soundness: to prioritize public services, implement risk management measures and rein in the city's expenses. The council has squandered opportunities for reform and has not acted on these recommendations.
This parcel tax vote is a referendum on City Council governance and management. The availability of parcel tax funds is allowing the council to "kick the can down the road" and ignore the need for reforms and fiscal diligence. The council thinks Piedmont citizens will continue writing blank checks while expenses and liabilities, including the $40 million unfunded liability for employee benefits, continue to escalate unsustainably and monies are wasted.
Measure Y is an opportunity for voters to say it is "not business as usual". Demand fiscal responsibility. Vote NO on Measure Y. Visit NoOnMeasureY.com.
member, 2011 MTRC Piedmont