Oct 30 2012

OPINION: Bring Costs Under Control

Long-Time Resident Voting NO on Measure Y-

Having lived in Piedmont for over 40 years and thus placing a high value on the services provided by the city, I am concerned about the controversy surrounding the parcel tax renewal. Over the last few months I have attempted to educate myself regarding the arguments posed by both sides of this important public policy issue.

The supporters of Measure Y have insisted that it is necessary to pass Y to ensure continuation of the essential services that the citizenry of Piedmont have come to expect. Opponents of Measure Y contend that the City will be able to provide the necessary services without the revenue from the parcel tax. Furthermore, their view is that the city council and the city administration need to be held to account for the mistakes over the last few years that endanger the future financial well-being of our community.

It is clear to me that the council and the administration have not performed up to expectations in recent years. The undergrounding debacle that cost the citizens of Piedmont several million dollars and the attempt to create athletic playing fields in Moraga canyon in the face of significant detrimental environmental impacts are but two examples of poor decision-making on the part of the City. In addition, failure to deal adequately with the looming employee benefit crisis reinforces my concern regarding the management of the city’s resources.

To arrive at these conclusions I have relied on, among other sources, Michael Rancer’s comprehensive assessment of Piedmont’s financial situation made when he was Chair of the 2011 Municipal Tax Review Committee. In particular, Rancer’s analysis suggests that the current administration has failed to address the escalating costs associated with City employees’ salaries and benefits. These costs have increased by over $6.4 million over the last decade, an amount greater than the overall increase in city expenditures.

Currently a quarter of the city budget goes to pay for employee benefit costs. A “No on Y” vote will begin the process of holding the council and the administration accountable for bringing costs under control and laying the groundwork for a sound fiscal future for Piedmont.

Ken Jensen, 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.

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