Sep 5 2012

OPINION: City Parcel Tax Raises Contradictions

Letter to the Editor regarding Piedmont’s Parcel Tax –

I have read the arguments for and against the extension of the parcel tax, and was struck by the seeming contradiction between some of the City’s recent actions and the arguments in favor of renewing the parcel tax.

The proponents argue that the $1.5 million in revenue that the parcel tax brings in is essential in order to continue to maintain “essential city services.”  My simple question is that if $1.5 million is so “essential” to the City’s budget, why didn’t the City’s losses of almost twice that amount (at least $2.5 million) on the Piedmont Hills Underground Project likewise threaten essential services?  And how did the City react to that loss?  Their “investigation” of it could be charitably described as dilatory, and seemed more to reflect an attitude of avoidance rather than any sense of urgency or resolve.  And then when they finally came up with “lessons learned” recommendations almost 2 years later, they proceeded to basically ignore all of them in connection with administering the Blair Park project, which is apparently still in litigation, and has continuing cost overruns of at least $100,000 and up to $400,000 if you count staff time.  This was a project they repeatedly told us was a “gift” – that is, it was not supposed to cost the City anything.  It has turned out to be anything but.

Why does the City then apparently feel that despite the undergrounding losses, it was okay for decision-making to remain business as usual, but now it is essential that we renew taxes to recover a fraction of what was lost.  Wouldn’t it make more sense to change the way the City approaches these fiscal issues and actually take real steps now to avoid continuing to incur large losses, rather than maintain the status quo and rely on more taxes to backfill for prior poor decision-making and losses? Actions speak louder than words.

Very Truly Yours,

Robert C. Hendrickson,  Piedmont Resident

Editor’s Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.


2 Responses to “OPINION: City Parcel Tax Raises Contradictions”

  1. Excellent!! My grandmother called that throwing good money after bad! If the $2.5M thrown away by the city was not essential then the $1.5 certainly is not. My theory that the so called “gift” was a financial Trojan horse proved to be true.

  2. I fully agree with Rob’s assessment of this issue. Too much is spent on proposals and unfunded mandates that don’t support our essential city services. More citizens need to speak up loudly to our elected officials!
    George Childs, Piedmont resident

Leave a Comment