Oct 5 2020

OPINION: Public Safety Should Take Priority Over the Pool

Supporting Measure UU seems like a “mom and apple pie” decision, but according to the most recent Budget Advisory Committee report the City has an additional $52 Million in capital needs for which there is no plan. Importantly, the list includes seismic retrofitting of our police, fire and Veterans buildings.
When people are asked why they choose to live in Piedmont, public safety services are high on the list.  It appears that the pool bonds are being proposed without reference to the larger context of all needed capital projects. Why has the pool been given the highest priority?  Why has there apparently not been a systematic prioritization among all capital needs?
If the pool bonds are issued, will that minimize the City’s ability to obtain additional financing for these other important needs? Might the pool bonds make residents less likely to approve another bond?
With Piedmont being among the most highly taxed of comparable cities, we cannot assume that Piedmont’s residents could afford still another bond or that the City could take on additional debt while retaining its credit rating.  The City’s Q and A’s on Measure UU makes no mention of this context.
Kathleen Quenneville, Piedmont Resident
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

3 Responses to “OPINION: Public Safety Should Take Priority Over the Pool”

  1. Please note: the title “OPINION: Public Safety Should Take Priority Over the Pool” was written by the PCA editors, not me. PCA’s title expresses an opinion that is not articulated in my piece. Measure UU addresses Piedmont’s capital projects on a piecemeal basis. Measure UU makes the pool our top priority even though we have significant needs for capital projects impacting public safety. I have serious reservations about backing into setting a top priority due to a piecemeal approach. The pool could end up being the top priority if all capital projects were reviewed in context. It is essential, however, that this prioritizing be intentional in consideration of all capital needs.

  2. While I greatly respect Kathleen’s viewpoint, one of the few strong positives I see of Measure UU is that if it fails we will likely see a much larger bond measure before us that will not let us decide on the single pool issue.

    Additionally Measure UU is a general obligation bond which taxes on ad valorem value so a progressive element is included. Regrettably City Council has expressed interest in creating a regressive Mello Roos District for the next bond. Measure UU is the best deal we’re going to get, especially for fixed income seniors. I support UU.

  3. Rick points out what is a flaw with Measure UU – it’s funding is based on assessed property value rather than parcel size so many Piedmonters won’t be contributing their fair share to the pool for the next 30 years. Proponents use a median assessed value of $1M as what voters will be assessed on but that is skewed by the Prop 13 assessments. Home values have averaged over $2M for many years now so recent residents and those to be will be paying three times or more than their neighbors. That is no way to pay for a community pool.

    Council did look into establishing an essential services Mello Roos district which would have included the pool but couldn’t get it done by the filing deadline. Were Measure UU to fail, Council could bring this back in March 2021 and set a much more equitable assessment for the pool. Perhaps first generation owners such as Rick could be given a pass on assessments.

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