The Municipal Tax Review Committee (MTRC) is appointed every 4 years and has an important charge -
The MTRC was not put in place to “offer suggestions and ideas”. The MTRC, appointed by Council every 4 years for some 20 years now, does a thorough review of city operations to determine the level at which to set the parcel tax for the next 4 years. It goes through an intense period of meetings with city department heads and provides Council a parcel tax rate structure. At the same time, it makes recommendations about city operations and financial management. For example, the 2011 MTRC compared Piedmont’s operational costs to other cities, which can be found on page 22 of the report.
As to the parcel tax, the 2011 MTRC made the following statement:
“Although the committee in concept supports renewal of the parcel tax to be levied in its full amount and structure, the committee had much discussion concerning whether or not conditions should be placed on its recommendation.
Fundamentally, the City’s projected revenues and current expense commitments don’t align and the committee recognizes that passing the current parcel tax without addressing expense commitments is not fiscally prudent. Further, the committee understands that certain expense reductions recommended above will take time and negotiations to implement – more time than is provided by the committee’s current schedule for submitting its report. The committee has grave concerns that without implementing the above steps, not only will the parcel tax not cover planned expenditures, but also that renewal itself is at risk if the public lacks confidence in the City’s fiscal management.”
That is a very qualified endorsement of the parcel tax and I think it is inappropriate to accuse members of “changing their minds”. I, for one, appreciate the unprecedented advice of the Committee that we consider public confidence before putting the tax on the ballot. That is why I did not endorse the parcel tax and directed voters to read the MTRC and BAC reports. I think a goal of both reports was to alert the public to the $40M unfunded pension/benefits liability the city is facing. A majority of the MTRC does not think Council has taken sufficient action to address that problem and that renewing the tax at this time is imprudent.
Piedmont Council Member Garrett Keating
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.