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November 7, 2017 — Local Elections
Local

Town of Atherton
Measure F - 2/3 Approval Required

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Resultados electorales

No se aprueba

981 votos si (52.6%)

884 votos no (47.4%)

100% de distritos activos (7/7).

47,173 boletas electorales serán contadas.

Renew Parcel Tax to fund police and emergency services
— undefined

To continue providing funding to maintain neighborhood police patrols and the Town's ability to respond to emergencies, repairing and maintaining streets, and repairing and constructing storm drains, shall an ordinance be adopted to continue a Special Parcel Tax for four years and allowing for the expenditure of funds derived from such tax?

¿Qué es esta propuesta?

Información básica sobre la iniciativa de ley — Información oficial sobre esta iniciativa

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Argumento A FAVOR

The Special Parcel Tax is an important component of the Town's financial health - it is not a new tax. It renews an existing parcel tax supported by residents for almost 40 years. Most parcels, 1/2 to 2 acres, are assessed at a maximum of $750 annually. Total revenue from all parcels is $1.86M representing 13% of Town's total annual revenue. 100% of the Parcel Tax goes to the town, unlike your basic property tax where only about 9% goes to the Town.

Use of the Parcel Tax is restricted to:

 * police/emergency services and critical 9-1-1 capabilities

 * front-line law enforcement and school resource officer

 * street repairs, maintenance and improvement

 * storm drain repairs, maintenance, and construction

Recent projects include:

$4M Marsh Road Channel

$650K Series Street Light Replacement

$350K El Camino HAWK signal

$490K Bike/Ped Routes

$675K Stockbridge, Euclid/Polhemus, Camino al Lago drainage

$1M Road Maintenance

Parcel Tax revenue cannot be used for Park or Civic Center projects

Atherton receives minimal sales tax revenue and has few other local revenue sources. Grants are regularly sought out but hard to secure. The Parcel Tax is critical for major public work projects.

The Town acts prudently with your money. We consistently receive clean audit reports and we scrutinize budget expenditures to reduce costs where needed, including the elimination of long-term liabilities. Every year Council has the option to reduce the tax amount based on review of expenditures and available revenues.

The renewal term has been reduced from 4 to 3 years to better align with revenue/expenditure projections and reassess the need for the Parcel Tax.

A 2/3 vote is required to pass.

Vote YES to renew the Parcel Tax and continue important funding for public safety, streets, and drainage to maintain the quality of life Atherton residents expect and enjoy.

/s/ Michael Lempres, Mayor

/s/ Cary Wiest, Vice Mayor

/s/ Wm. R. Widmer, Councilman and Former Mayor

/s/ Rick De Golia, Council Member

/s/ Elizabeth O. Lewis, Council Member 

Argumento EN CONTRA

The Special Parcel Tax is obsolete. Why?

In order to answer this question one must look at its history. When introduced in 1978, the cost of real property in Atherton and consequently the total real property taxes collected, was relatively low. One could still find homes for $500,000.

Atherton real estate taxes were insufficient to fund capital improvements and maintain critical operations. Houses were selling for 10% or less of today's prices.

The parcel tax was born.

For years the parcel tax has been used 100% for capital improvements and recently a small part funds public safety.

But times have changed. Try to find a $3M lot in Atherton, let alone a home, and that lot might soon have a $20M home built on it. Property values skyrocketed and the actual increased real property taxes collected have far exceeded the sums atttributable +to parcel taxes collected in those same years. Thus, the historical reason for assessing a parcel tax no longer exists.

The town has promised in the past not to collect parcel taxes unless needed. With this soaring income stream, the town should no longer continue to assess a parcel tax. Like the rest of us, it should live within its means.

This past election we were informed that there would be no new taxes and the town had enough money to meet all obligations. The town underscored this by stating it has an "existing unallocated surplus of $4.423M" in the capital improvement account. Clearly, if there is already so much "Surplus" in the capital improvement fund, we do not need another NEW parcel tax.

As taxpayers we can agree that we already pay too much in taxes. We can agree that enough is enough. Let's agree finally to end the parcel tax.

Vote No on Measure F.

/s/ Jim Massey, Former Vice Chair Finance Committee

/s/ Charles Ramorino, Past General Plan Committee

/s/ Sandy Crittenden, Past Member Park and Recreation Commission 

Refutación al argumento A FAVOR

The facts:

 * The income from property taxes received by the town has so increased in the past few years that it will exceed income from the NEW parcel tax.

 * Without this parcel tax the town has more income than ever before. Police services account for 55.2% of the budget, which costs increased by $1,183,540 (19.6%) since 2015-16. Parcel taxes primarily fund only ONE local school resource officer.

 * According to the town's 2016-17 budget, and by law, the parcel tax constitutes 2.5% (NOT 13%) of the general fund.

 * The town HAS $4.4M in its capital improvement fund that it can spend on capital projects like roads, drainage, and safe bike and pedestrian routes. It has indicated it will instead spend it on a building because it is "SURPLUS" --- EXTRA.

 *A common refrain in town government has been "we have the money." If there is no limit to how much can be spent, it will all be spent. This reaction is one reason the council has never adjusted the parcel tax below the maximum amount despite its pledge to do so if the money was not needed.

 --- It is TAXPAYERS in Atherton who pay property taxes.

 --- TAXPAYERS were responsible for the first clean audit.

 ---It was TAXPAYERS who insisted parcel tax dollars be used for much-needed capital improvements.

As a taxpayer it is your right to say the parcel tax has now become obsolete.

Vote NO on Measure F.

/s/ Jim Massey, Former Vice Finance Chair

/s/ Charles Ramorino, Past General Plan Committee

/s/ Sandy Crittenden, Past Member Park and Rec 

Refutación al argumento EN CONTRA

The renewal of the Atherton Parcel Tax is more important now than ever. It is 13% of the Town's annual revenue. 100% goes to the Town for police services, road repairs, and drainage projects. These funds cannot be used for general purposes, the civic center, or park expenses.

This is not a new tax, merely a three year continuation of an existing tax that has not increased in 22 years.

The argument against doesn't have the facts right:

* They claim that Atherton doesn't need the Parcel Tax because we have current surpluses. We have a current surplus because of conservative fiscal planning and financial management. These surplus funds are scheduled to be used over the next three years primarily on drainage projects and to build a voter-approved civic center.

 * The argument against also says that the parcel tax has been used 100% for capital improvements. This isn't true. Historically, it has supported both police and road repairs.

Your YES vote confirms that you see the value in maintaining our infrastructure and high-quality police services. This maintains our standard of living and preserves and enhances our property values.

Since 1978, residents have strongly supported the Parcel Tax by as much as 80%.

This Parcel Tax proposal is for three years, rather than four, because in three years we will know the status of the civic center project. Given our recent surpluses, the council believes that we should reconsider the parcel tax in 2020.

PLEASE VOTE YES!

/s/ Michael Lempres, Mayor

/s/ Cary Wiest, Vice Mayor

/s/ William R. Widmer, Councilman and Former Mayor

/s/ Rick De Golia, Council Member

/s/ Elizabeth O. Lewis, Council Member 

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