Outlined are my serious concerns regarding this proposed new parcel tax: First, I am distressed and appalled by the prospect of making the parcel tax permanent.
Without a doubt, future boards and administrations will become so accustomed to such a permanent tax that it will simply fade into the basic tax structure that will no longer have the special importance as it does today. It will be treated in the same manner as the ad valorem tax is today.
Once the "permanent" tax is no longer sufficient to satisfy the ever growing needs of the district, this will, without question, bring forth appeals for more "special" or "emergency" parcel taxes to heap on the taxpayers of Piedmont.
Just look no further than the so-called "emergency" tax proposed with this round of measures if state Proposition 30 had not been approved; there's no doubt in my mind that this will happen once the state politicians figure out how to redirect any money from Proposition 30 receipts to other priorities in a year or so.
The only part of this proposed measure that I can support is the limitation of the annual escalator to 2 percent, mirroring the Proposition 13 limitation on assessed value growth.
As to the so-called "Low Income Exemption for SSI Recipients," I see this as very close to meaningless. How many, if any, Piedmont property owners fall within these circumstances? Few, I wager. A more realistic "senior citizen" or "lower-income" provision should be incorporated into the measure.
In relation to the proposed abolishment of the Citizens Advisory Committee, this would be an unfortunate loss of the public's ability to view the activities and results of the use of the taxpayers' money. The current committee is obliged to provide an independent report of its findings annually. The proposal to fold the committee's duties into the Budget Advisory Committee is unlikely to provide such clarity.
Based on my concerns indicated above, I must strongly urge that the board reconsider the measure described; if not, I will find it necessary to strongly and actively oppose the adoption of this parcel tax. We must retain the ability to have the voters review the performance of the district and this board at least every four years.
And to the likely argument that the voters could, by initiative, reverse the proposed measure in the future, I would counter with my view that any such effort would be unlikely to muster an effective campaign. Reversing a law, no matter how unpopular, is seldom, if ever, possible to accomplish.
George Childs is a resident of Piedmont.