Jul 17 2012

Council Votes to Place Parcel Tax on November Ballot

Council discussion on Monday, July 16, centered on the appropriateness of putting the City parcel tax renewal on this November’s ballot.

Resident Rick Schiller asked the Council not to place the tax on the ballot at this time due to incomplete compliance with advisory committees’ recommendations and the failure of the City to observe appropriate financial oversight.  As a member of the 2011 Municipal Tax Review Committee (MTRC), Council Member Bob McBain defended the City’s compliance with recommendations.  Council Member Jeff Weiler warned of unintended consequences if the parcel tax failed.  City Administrator Geoff Grote named many ways the Council has been financially prudent including revoking approval of the Blair Park sports field based on proponents insufficient sharing of costs.  Grote noted that for 32 years the parcel tax has been an important part of Piedmont’s budget.

The need for a parcel tax in the context of escalating employee pension and medical benefits arose.  The Council is considering getting out of CalPERS, as Vice Mayor Margaret Fujioka pointed out, while noting these matters take time.  Mayor John Chiang stated in regard to employee compensation that a sledge hammer approach was not his preference, as he preferred a serial approach.  Council Member Garrett Keating supported placing the parcel tax on the ballot and allowing voters to decide.  He recalled the reports by the advisory committees, the MTRC and the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee, emphasizing that the current financial path of the City is unsustainable.  He urged residents to read the executive summaries.

The  Council unanimously approved placing the parcel tax on the November ballot.

3 Responses to “Council Votes to Place Parcel Tax on November Ballot”

  1. What starts as an “add-on”, i.e., frosting on the cake, becomes a demanded level of necessity and causes dire straits when it is not available.

  2. Honorable Mayor Chiang and Council,
    I urge you to table this agenda item and not place the Municipal Services Parcel Tax (“MSPT”) on the November ballot. The dramatic failure of Measure A this February was in part a referendum vote on continuing bad process and financial imprudence at City Hall. With Measure A the City stated a 2011 Stipulated Order required mainline replacement despite EPA documents directly contradicting the City ballot argument. The City then placed an $11M tax on the ballot for $5M worth of work that was not legally required.

    Despite a misinformation laden campaign in the Piedmont Post, the Electorate soundly defeated Measure A by the largest margin in at least 33 years. The rhetoric has already started with the MSPT, that essential services must be cut should the Tax fail; this is an unseemly and unnecessary tactic that will only further encourage public mistrust of City Hall. Public Safety is an essential service, converting Blair Park to a Sports Complex is only essential to a special interest few who had the back door key to City Hall.

    The calculatedly divisive and conclusory Blair Park Proposal by proponents and City Hall has left many residents aware of and disenchanted with skewed City processes. Despite the often heard “Support the Gift . . . no taxpayer funds needed,” the public cost escalates well beyond the known $194,489 gone plus the minimally $250,000 in staff time. Shockingly, after the PHUUD Undergrounding Disaster and the Crest Road theft, financial risk assessment was left wholly to proponents as even the City Engineer’s categorical negative report was ignored. The biased Blair Park process lacked both independent risk analysis and a transparent and inclusive public process.

    Now is the time for Process Reform; instead City Hall presumes residents will accept the Parcel Tax as a permanent burden. Do not ask for more money until financial prudence and good government is restored.


    Rick Schiller

  3. Someone has to say it!

    I think the Council and the City do not understand how frustrated and annoyed far more than 33% of our citizens are; upset about the high-handed tactics employed recently by the Council and our outstanding City Staff.

    Geoff Grote is a great manager , but he works for the Council. He does an excellent job.

    Not just Blair Park, although that is certainly a standout example of a BIG political mistake ….

    As a 40+ year Piedmont resident, I have always voted for the Parcel Tax. I thought it was in my self interest. Now, I am not so sure. I do not want to support the escalating fiscal irresponsibility nor expanding elitist attitudes in our City.

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