Oct 14 2020

Click below to view the League of Women Voters Piedmont Forum on Pool Bonds: Measure UU.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e2Sb1tqucBs

Proponent speaker: Betsy Andersen

Opponent speaker: Andy Wasserman

Oct 14 2020

Rick Schiller is right to raise the tax burden of Measure UU, not because of its structure but because of its substantive increase in taxes on recent and new families coming to Piedmont who already pay an inordinately higher share thanks to Prop 13.

Simply put, the longer you’ve lived in Piedmont, the less you’ll contribute to the pool. Second (my kids) and third generation Piedmonters moving back home will pay bond assessments based on assessed property values well less than $1M, while recent and new families are assessed at $2.5M and above. This is no way to fund a community pool.

The pool will triple GHG emissions and that’s with energy efficient elements.  Instead of the proposed design that uses natural gas, the pool should be all electric, using the latest technology to generate on-site power needs. Mountainview is building an all electric pool and aquatic complex at the cost of approximately $20M. Downsizing the current Piedmont design could achieve this and maybe make room for a Pickleball court in the comprehensive Civic Center.

The operational analysis for the pool is predicated on a 5% fee increase so the day use fee will likely increase.

The city considered including the pool and public safety buildings in an essential services bond measure that could be funded with a parcel tax.  Pools may not be essential services but a parcel tax would be a much more equitable way to pay for the pool. If an ad valorem assessment is the only way, then I’d support an exclusion for first generation owners with the proviso that once the property transferred within a family it would be assessed at the average Piedmont home value.

Piedmont can build a new pool without passing the tax and GHG burdens on to future generations.

Reject UU and have the city come back with a sustainable design and equitable tax structure. 

Garrett Keating, Former City Council Member

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 13 2020

How did the Community Pool reach the current cost and condition YES on UU campaign hopes to cure?  

The YES campaign for UU recalls, “the Piedmont Pool has been an integral part of our community, serving children, adults of all ages, and our local schools.”  That was true through the decades it was run by the Piedmont Swim Club, which funded, built, maintained, and managed it at no cost to taxpayers.

The Piedmont Swim Club heavily subsidized the Swim Team for their use of the pool and gave the School District free pool use.  When the City took it over, much changed as the operation proved more challenging than anticipated.  In May 2013, months after the City began running the pool, the City informed the School District at the last minute that they could not use the pool that year.   

The YES on UU campaign is concerned that the pools cost the City $1,000 per day prior to the closure by Alameda County COVID-19 mandate.  They write “the current pool is failing, leaking thousands of gallons of water every day.”  For 46 years the Swim Club paid all pool expenses, including initial construction, capital improvements, major and routine maintenance,  After the City ended that relationship in order to manage the pool itself, PCA received and published the explanation of the situation that is republished below.

HISTORY: Residents assert Post’s pool facts are wrong – January 11, 2012

The Piedmont Post’s January 11, 2012 article, “Rood’s tenure as final swim club president,” gets almost all key facts regarding the negotiations between the city and the swim club wrong.  From the beginning, the club agreed to pay all pool expenses, including major maintenance and capital improvements, as it had for 46 years.  In return, it simply asked that the terms of the existing lease be continued.

We have spent 40 years negotiating complex deals, both as an executive (Bill Drum) and as an attorney and mediator (Jon Sakol).  Neither Tim Rood nor anyone else negotiated anything in public.  That is different from keeping the people you represent apprised of the status of negotiations, which the club’s board had a fiduciary duty to do to its members, who were demanding to know what was going on.  Tim Rood’s August letter and the posting of each side’s proposals was available only to those members.  At the time, the only proposal the club had received from the city left all financial obligations blank, and the club had been told there were other things the city might want to talk about, but not what.  That was still the status at the beginning of October, when Jon Sakol began working on the negotiations for the club.

The only “ultimatum” the board gave the city was that it needed an answer by the end of December, so that it would have adequate time for a massive membership drive to restore its financial viability if the lease were renewed, and the city would have adequate time for the transition, if it were not.  We twice extended that deadline because Jon Sakol believed that the City and the club had essentially reached an agreement.

In January, however, the new city attorney substantially rewrote the lease, imposing new financial obligations on the club: that the city would have the sole discretion to deny the club the use of the money the club had set aside for major maintenance and capital improvements it was contractually obligated to make and keep that money itself; that the city could unilaterally have any work performed and send the club the bill; and that the club purchase hazmat insurance (which no other pool has and the city has not bought).  When the club did not agree to those terms (which were not in the rent-free lease the city gave the new arts center three months later), it was a member of the city council, at its February 7 meeting, who said “we’re out of time.”  (The only council member who sat down with the club to understand its financial projections supported the lease.)

Bill Drum

Jon Sakol

Editors’ note: Jon Sakol has endorsed UU.  Bill Drum has passed away.  
Oct 13 2020

To catch up on Election News, look on the left side of this page and click on Election News.  All the election articles are there.

Do not forget to go to the end of your ballot to cast a vote on Piedmont Measures TT and UU.

Vote early!

 

Oct 13 2020

I met Cory Smegal back in 2009 when we had young children and were co-presidents of our respective elementary school parent clubs. Since those early days of working together, I’ve watched as Cory has consistently taken on new and increasingly significant roles to support our students and the school district.In addition, now I’m privileged to call her my friend.

Most recently, I had the opportunity to work closely with Cory last year when I was president of PHS Parents’ Club. Cory was always a supportive and active School Board member, even before the world was turned upside down by the pandemic.

One of the things I respect most about Cory is that she always anchors her positions and efforts on what’s best for our students. And over the past four years she has also led the charge for our district to advocate for children across the state. In this way, she works for ways that Piedmont can take a leadership role in ensuring quality education for all.

The attributes that make Cory a great friend also make her a great community leader. She listens, is responsive, and works hard. She’s thoughtful, balanced and diligently researches her positions before she reaches conclusions or acts upon them.

And Cory is pragmatic, with a strong sense of fiduciary responsibility. More than anything, Cory cares deeply for our town and its children.

Please join me in re-electing Cory Smegal for School Board.

Laura Katter

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 12 2020

While support signs for UU are seen throughout Piedmont – letters mailed, opinions voiced, editorials, questions and comments opposing and supporting Measure UU continue.  For approval of the $19.5 million in 30 year bonds, 2/3rds of those voting on the pool bonds must vote yes. 

YES -Pool proponents have stated Piedmont needs a working, non-leaking municipal pool, and it is timely and cost-effective to issue the bonds to allow the designing and building of two enlarged pools and Aquatic Facilities.  Pools were costing the City $1,000 per day prior to the closure by Alameda County COVID-19 mandate.  Proponents note the new pool facility will be used by the schools, swim teams, Recreation Department, and the general public. The added operating costs of the Facility are projected to be covered by an increase in community-at-large usage. 

NO – City records show tens of millions of dollars in outstanding City financial obligations, and opponents state the City should first fund current obligations and needed Police and Fire facilities before a yet-to-be-designed expensive multi-pool Aquatic Facility.  A lack of prioritization of City needs, increased congestion next to schools, higher taxes, poor economic timing,  environmental impacts, financial money-pit, mis-management, oversized costs, and Covid -19  are noted as negatives.

Voters are encouraged to read and consider available official information linked below.

Official Measure UU – Pool Construction Bonds information

*The “City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis of Measure UU” is provided by Piedmont’s contract City Attorney.

Measure UU is found near the end of Piedmont voters ballots.

Oct 12 2020

 Endorser Forum:  Pool Bonds, Measure UU:  Wednesday, October 14, 6:00 – 6:30 p.m.

This forum will be on YouTube. The City of Piedmont is legally not allowed to use public resources for political purposes. Prior to the forum, the Piedmont League of Women Voters endorsed  Measure UU.

>Submit Questions Now

Join the League of Women Voters of Piedmont for a virtual Election Forum featuring proponents and opponents of City of Piedmont Ballot Measure UU. Measure UU authorizes the city to issue bonds to reconstruct the Piedmont Community Pool. Each side will be given two minutes to present an opening statement, followed by a question and answer session where each side will have one minute to answer each question. Submit your questions concerning Measure UU now or during the event.

  • When: Wednesday, October 14, 2020 from 6pm to 6:30pm
  • Where: Livestream on the LWVP YouTube channel
  • Who: Official Representatives in favor of and opposed to Ballot Measure UU

You may submit questions during the livestream by using the YouTube comments or anytime prior to or during the event by completing the anonymous form below or sending an email to lwvpiedmont@gmail.com.

For more information about Measure UU, review LWVP Pros & Cons.

Oct 11 2020

Piedmont Measure TT increases the “flat rate” property tax  on  sales of all Piedmont homes and properties. Measure TT officially states, “this measure is not a commitment to any particular action or purpose.” 

The 35% tax increase will be levied as a percentage of the property sales price adding thousands of dollars to the cost of selling a property in Piedmont.  With a low bar for passage (one vote plus 50%), if approved by a simple majority of Piedmont voters, TT will become effective on all property sales in Piedmont on July 1, 2021.  Read official details below.

Proponents and Opponents use different terms to argue that TT would or would not establish the highest transfer taxes in California. 

TT Proponents rely on the handful of California cities such as Oakland and Berkeley that have created “stepped” graduated transfer taxes based on the sales price range in their cities, and then compare the highest tax rates for the highest priced properties with Piedmont’s flat rate.  Berkeley’s median house value is 1/2 of Piedmont’s and Oakland’s median house value is 1/3 of Piedmont’s, so their steps do not fit the Piedmont range. (See Alameda County median values here). 

TT Opponents claim TT is the highest California “flat” transfer tax because more than 90% of California cities have flat rates under $2 per $1000 compared to Measure TT’s proposed flat rate of $17.50 per $1000 .  (See California city Transfer Tax rates here .)  Note: Alameda County adds an additional amount to the transfer tax.

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Proponents state the money will be used by the City of Piedmont for essential services, and the tax is comparable to some other cities. “The proposed tax increase will provide necessary funds for maintaining and improving city facilities, streets, sidewalks, and parks.”  Proponents claim that opponents are wrong to state that Piedmont would have the highest Transfer Tax.

Opponents state Piedmont will have the highest “flat” Transfer Tax rate in California and will take away homeowner profits.  “Voters must demand accountability measures before passing such a high homeowner tax.” Also, Piedmonters just approved a City parcel tax for  municipal purposes, and Measure TT does not identify specific uses. 

Click each item below to read official information on the measure, liens, bankruptcies, etc.:

*The “City Attorney’s Impartial Analysis of Measure TT” is provided by Piedmont’s contract City Attorney.

Oct 11 2020

I have watched Conna in action in many volunteer situations.  She listens, she is curious, she asks questions, she seeks many opinions.  She understands there is a process and is not afraid to speak up and advocate for what she feels is right.  She really knows how to build bridges and seeks the higher ground.  She is a problem solver.  She is the right woman for the job and future of Piedmont.

Vote for Conna McCarthy for City Council.

Sincerely, Valerie Corvin

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 11 2020
I have had the pleasure of knowing Cory since our children attended Wildwood Elementary. We worked together on many parent club boards (Wildwood, PMS, and PHS) and also co-chaired The Giving Campaign for two years.
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Cory is dedicated to public education and always has the best interests of our students at heart. With her extensive volunteer background, she understands our school system on every level, has a strong financial background and is familiar with district budgets, and she listens respectfully to all stakeholders points of view before making decisions. During this unprecedented time, we need someone with her experience to guide us through a safe return to the classroom.
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No one is more qualified to advocate for the continued excellence of our schools. Please join me in voting for Cory Smegal on November 3rd!
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Terri Burge
Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.