Jun 4 2016

OPINION: Proponents and Opponents Dispute Measure F

Piedmont Parcel Tax Measure F on the June 7, 2016 Ballot

On the eve of balloting for Measure F, proponents again ignore growing City revenue and make a number of false claims about the opposition.

May 25 Councilman Wieler wrote that opponents’, “Revenue estimates are overblown.”

FALSE. Opponents highlight that the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) has been overly conservative and contradictory within its own report concerning revenue going forward.

At p.10 of the BAFPC Report the Committee uses a 4.3% transfer tax growth rate over 15 years and then at p.29 states a flat $2.8M transfer tax through 2022 with no growth rate. Opponents examined the entire 35 year history of the transfer tax to 2015 and found a 6.45% compound annual increase.  

While facility maintenance costs are rising, ever increasing City revenues assure that the 30% tax increase is not needed. Proponents estimate an unrealistic and overly conservative flat transfer tax going forward.

Despite the last five years $3.3M transfer tax average, the committee uses a flat, no growth transfer tax estimate of $2.8M through 2022. This unrealistic view is the questionable justification for the 30% parcel tax increase. Using either the committee’s stated 4.3% transfer tax growth rate or the more robust 6.45% lifetime rate, in 5 years the transfer tax will be minimally $3.5M to $3.8M. The committee only projects $2.8M.

Proponents ignore fundamental macro-economic forces that ensure an escalating revenue stream for the most desirable and expensive City in Alameda County. The Committee projects the 2022 Property tax at $14.8M, a 33% increase from 2016, but the committee does not project the commensurate transfer tax increases.

Proponents ignore the Pension Sidefund payoff in 2020, freeing up $1.3M annually. Substantial additional revenue will be available for facility maintenance. Throughout the Measure F campaign proponents have never addressed nor provided counter information to our examination of the robust quality of revenue going forward.

Wieler continues on May 25:  “The current transfer tax is coming in low”.

FALSE. The Feb. 15, 2016 2016 mid-year Fiscal Report shows transfer tax receipts at $1,449,618 which is 53% of the proponents $2.8M projection.

Invariably the spring selling season accelerates sales as is again occurring this year. The just released June 6, 2016 City budget report shows the transfer tax revenues at $2,367,798 July-April. With 83% reporting completed the tax is at 85% of the conservative $2.8M with the two busiest months of May and June yet to be booked. The transfer tax is not “low.”

Tax proponents claim opponents state the City has excessive employee staffing.

FALSE. Opponents have never made this claim. We ask that the 2011 MTRC staffing/service analysis be done so a determination is made.

Tax proponents accuse opponents of stating: “A $120,000 Special Election is needed if Measure F fails”:

FALSE. Opponents have never asked for a special election. Historically, failed parcel tax proposals have been scaled back and placed on the next regular ballot at minimal cost.  The November ballot is available.

Both the East Bay Times and East Bay Express note the lack of transparency and recommend a NO vote on Measure F because the City Impartial analysis and Ballot question do not state the 30% increase.

Transparency is missing as are realistic estimates of revenue going forward.

Vote No on Measure F.

Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note:  Opinions expressed are those of the author.  PCA does not support or oppose ballot measures and accepts opinions both pro and con.

3 Responses to “OPINION: Proponents and Opponents Dispute Measure F”

  1. Why wasn’t this letter printed in the Piedmont Post edition prior to the election ?

  2. The Piedmont Post fervently supports City taxes regardless of merit. That was dramatically demonstrated in the failed and unneeded $11M 2012 sewer tax where the Post lavished three issues of front page “news” on the subsequently confirmed unneeded tax.

    In the capacity of party organ for City Hall, the Post does not want nor will the Post print counterpoints regardless of how reasonable, researched and factual the opposing viewpoints are. In contrast ample space is provided for tax supporters including Councilman Wieler’s weekly column.

  3. Rick has provided a valuable service to voters by providing a counterpoint to proponent arguments that city revenues are inadequate to undertake long-term facility maintenance. That claim is based solely on a flat-line projection of transfer tax revenues and conservative assumptions of property tax growth. Instead, Rick shows how long-term historic growth of city revenues will generate substantial revenue over 20 years that can sustain facility maintenace, even with market “volatility”. His estimates are dead on and the latest staff report on the budget acknowledges that city revenues are ahead of projections for 2015-16.


    An interesting finding in this latest staff report is that property taxes are well ahead of last year’s revenue, 8% as I can best estimate from the staff report. This is likely a consequence of property value reassessment that follows the historic transfer tax revenues of the past two years. This reassessment “cushion” is never accounted for in city budget projections and yet is a prime factor in future revenue growth for the city.

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