Jul 23 2011

Parcel Tax Meetings to be Sunshined – View on City Website!

The Chair of the Municipal Tax Review Committee announced that the committee voted on Wednesday, July 20, to hold its three remaining meetings in the Council Chambers.  These meetings will be August 3, 17 and 31, all at 7:30 pm.   This change will allow the meetings to be videotaped and archived. Residents can watch a live broadcast of the meetings on KCOM or view a video at their convenience on Piedmont’s KCOM website.

Committee members spent much of the July 20 meeting discussing the city’s sewer tax. They  voted unanimously (8-0) to recommend  the City Council propose a 50 percent increase in the sewer tax, effective July 1, 2014.  If a ballot measure wins approval of a two-thirds majority of Piedmont voters, the tax for homeowners with parcels up to 5,000 square feet will nearly double from $471 per year  to $706. The increase is necessary to complete rehabilitation of Piedmont’s sewers in compliance with federal environmental regulations.  The tax would decrease in 20 years as the city repays state loans and the work is completed. Committee members noted that homeowners are also responsible for repairing sewer laterals when they sell their homes.

The Committee also discussed but did not reach any conclusions on their recommendations to the City Council regarding a parcel tax.  Issues that remain unresolved include:

* how to reduce City employee benefits, which have increased from 23% of salary to 53% in 10 years;

• possibly postponing a vote on the parcel tax from February to June 2012, allowing the City time to hire an independent actuarial accountant to analyze future obligations for retired employees;

• placing separate parcel taxes on the ballot (each requiring a two-thirds vote) to pay for specific services, such as the city swimming pool and library payments to the City of Oakland;

• how strong a message to send to the City Council.

In response to a draft report prepared by Bill Hosler, Committee member Steve Weiner objected that it did not include or emphasize specific actions he wants the Council to undertake before the Committee supports a parcel tax.  These actions include:  controlling employee benefits, developing a 15 percent budget reserve, stipulating no City funds will be spent on the City pool or on the proposed Blair Park project.  “This Committee,” Weiner said,  “is not going to have a unanimous report. I will not support a plain vanilla report.”


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