Parcel Tax Defeat Will Not Solve Problems-
I too have been reading the pamphlets and news articles searching for the logic behind a no vote for Measure Y. The opponents have cited three main reasons to vote no:
1. A few years ago the staff and council was in charge of an undergrounding project that went very wrong;
2. Employee pension obligations are unsustainable;
3. The tax is unnecessary because it won’t lead to cuts in emergency services.
I don’t dismiss the importance of these three issues, but nixing the parcel tax cannot address the first two and is beside the point on the third.
Money lost on the undergrounding fiasco can’t be recovered, and so we must learn from our mistakes and move on. I guess the idea with a no vote is to “send a message” to elected officials and department heads. But if the council didn’t hear the message loud and clear by now, then we need a new council (see below).
Secondly, like many local governments across the state the city employees’ compensation seems to be out of scale with revenue and public support and probably should be adjusted downward. But negotiating with employees and their unions is a long-term process that can’t be fixed in a single year. So if we can’t afford to keep them with present revenues, how are further cuts going to make things better? The city has already taken steps to reduce its future obligations and may need to follow that course of many years if not decades.
Lastly, the idea that a defeat of Measure Y won’t cut police and fire services suggests that the rest of city government is unimportant. As is typical in cities around the country, when cuts finally are made, it is fire and police services that are the last things to be touched. Which means that everything else is on the chopping block, from recreation programs (including the pool) to street maintenance. And I think Piedmont is a great city because of ALL the city services, not just its 911 services.
If this debate has taught us anything, it is that financing a city is complicated. But you cannot “vote with your pocket book” to change government policy. The way to change that is by electing hard working and intelligent leaders to make good decisions. I think we have some of those kinds of people running the city right now, but if you disagree, you’ll have your chance to change that when the next election rolls around.
Tom Gandesbery, Piedmont Resident
Editors’ Note: The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association. The Piedmont Civic Association does not support or oppose candidates or ballot measures.