Aug 7 2020

NOVEMBER 3, 2020 ELECTION

City Council Candidates – Elect 2

Jennifer Cavenaugh

Connie Herrick

Conna McCarthy

N. “Sunny” Bostrom-Fleming Qualification is pending.

………………

School Board Candidates – Elect 3

Veronica Anderson Thigpen

Hilary Cooper

Jason Kelley

Cory Smegal

Hari Titan

Click below for further details on candidates:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=16885057

Jul 31 2020

Transfer Tax increase, as proposed, requires only a majority of voters to support the tax rather than 2/3rds required voter approval of identified purposes.

“Our facilities maintenance fund, which was established in 2003 to address ongoing and deferred maintenance of city owned facilities, has very little planned funding within our budget beyond FY 2019- 2020. The committee has recommended in previous budget analyses that in the near term (over the next 5 –10 years), minimum additional funding of approximately $850,000 per year is needed just to maintain the existing condition of City buildings, parks, streets and sidewalks.”  Report of the Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee, June 2020.

The lack of steady funding for Facilities Maintenance has been the sole justification offered by the Committee and City Council for the proposed increase in the Real Property Transfer Tax headed for the November 2020 ballot.  The Committee warns the transfer tax will be a flat $2.8M for the next 10 years and recommends raising the tax to bring in $950,000 annually to address the maintenance “deficit.”   Make no mind of the fact that the transfer tax averaged $3.4M over the past decade and is projected to reach $4.5M by 2030.  The Facilities Maintenance fund currently has a balance of $5M and this year’s transfer tax was $3.5M.

Assume the Committee is right.  If so, then why is there a such huge loophole in the resolution authorizing the tax for expenditures other than facility maintenance?  The resolution notes the dire state of Piedmont facilities: “The increase in such tax is made necessary due to aging infrastructure which is escalating operating costs that outpace the growth of City revenues;” yet goes on to state:

“The tax would apply to the sale of real property until ended by the voters; and revenues from the tax could be used for any legitimate governmental purpose; this measure is not a commitment to any particular action or purpose. The tax is a general tax and shall be approved if the measure receives at least a simple majority of affirmative votes.”

“Not a commitment to any particular action or purpose.”  So the new tax can be used for anything – salaries and benefits, new equipment, project overruns.  The real reason for that clause may be to lower the vote needed for the measure to pass – general taxes only need a simple majority to pass.

Garrett Keating

Piedmont Resident

Jul 26 2020

Interested in running for the School Board or the City Council?

It’s Time to File!

On November 3, 2020 Piedmont voters will support or reject the $19 million Municipal Pool Bond Measure, increase the Real Property Transfer Tax when selling their homes,  and choose the future City Council and School Board.

Piedmont voters who are interested in seeking election or reelection to public office on the City Council or School Board must file their candidacy documents by August 7.  City Clerk John Tulloch must be contacted to learn specifically what documents must be completed.  Contact # 510/420-3040

 Nomination Filing Period ends August 7, 2020

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Real Property Transfer Tax Increase and Pool Bond Measure for New Aquatics Center

Piedmonters wanting to file an argument for or against the Real Property Transfer Tax Increase or the Municipal Aquatics Center bond measure must meet the deadlines by contacting the City Clerk. 

Contact City Clerk John O. Tulloch at 510/420-3040 for updated information, dates, and specific qualifications to file an argument for or against the ballot measures.

Deadline for Direct Arguments on Measures – August 14, 2020 ?

 Deadline for Rebuttal Arguments on Measures – August 21, 2020 ?

Two seats on the City Council  will be elected on November 3.   Mayor Robert McBain having served two 4 year terms is not eligible to seek re-election.   Council member Jen Cavenaugh has taken out papers for another 4 year term.  Conna McCarthy has filed her City Council candidacy papers. Connie Herrick and  N.”Sunny” Rhodes Bostrom-Fleming have taken out candidate papers.

Three positions on the School Board will be chosen. Two School Board members, Andrea Swenson and Sarah Pearson, will  have served two 4 year terms and are not eligible to seek re-election. A third School Board member, Cory Smegal, is eligible to be re-elected to another 4 year term.  Those who have taken out papers as of this date for the School Board are: Veronica Anderson, Hilary Cooper, Jason Kelley, Hari Titan, Dr. James Crawford-Jakubiak, and N. “Sunny” Rhodes Bostrom-Fleming.

Sunny Bostrom-Fleming, who has taken out papers for both the School Board and the City Council, will only be allowed to file papers for one of the positions.

For the most updated information on candidates, click below:

https://piedmont.ca.gov/cms/one.aspx?portalId=13659823&pageId=16885057

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Staff report: Approval of a Resolution Setting Procedural Details for the General Municipal Election of November 3, 2020

SECTION 7. There shall be no filing fee for candidates for office in the General Municipal Election.

SECTION 8. The candidates’ statements shall be limited to a maximum of 200 words.

SECTION 10. The nominations for the General Municipal Election are open and close no later than 5:00 pm on August 7, 2020, unless extended pursuant to Elections Code Section 10225.

For all election related questions, contact City Clerk John O. Tulloch at 510/420-3040. 

Jul 13 2020

Today, I pulled papers to file as a candidate for Piedmont City Council. I am running because I want to be part of the decision-making that makes Piedmont a truly special place to live.  We are a multi-generational community of neighbors.  We look out for each other. We feel responsible for each other. With every school parcel tax passed, we declare that the welfare of our children is the priority of our entire community.  And just as important, we respect and honor those who came before us, those who grounded us with community traditions and pride, those who planned and prepared and were stewards for next generations. 

I want to be part of the leadership that encourages large conversations where all stakeholders thoughtfully plan and manage limited resources for the benefit of Piedmont now and into the future. I want to support technology that makes city services more accessible. I want to support climate leadership that values technological innovation as well as encouraging individual responsibility. I want safe streets. I want to support a highly trained and visible police department. I want to support a highly trained and visible fire department. I will respect the economic investment and personal sacrifices people make to live in Piedmont when determining how funding is spent. I want Piedmont to be the place where our children want to raise their own families and where newcomers know they are welcomed and wanted.

Conna McCarthy

July 13, 2020

Jul 4 2020

PCA will attempt to keep voters informed as election season gets underway for the November 3, 2020 Election. 

It is known that some candidates are beginning their campaigns via the internet.  With social distancing remaining in place, this election will prove to be unique with no knocking on doors, block coffees, or hand shaking. 

Piedmont has never lacked for resident voters to step forward and seek election to the volunteer positions.  There are many details to running for public office requiring strict adherence to requirements. Candidates are advised to promptly contact the Piedmont City Clerk for details.

Piedmont voters who are interested in seeking election or reelection are getting busy for the election filing period beginning in July 13 and ending August 7.  

 Nomination Filing Period = July 13 – August 7, 2020

Suggested Deadline for Direct Arguments on Measures August 14, 2020

Suggested Deadline for Rebuttal Arguments on Measures August 21, 2020

Dates should be confirmed with City Clerk Tulloch at 510/420-3040.

Two seats on the City Council are up at the November 3 election.  Council member Jen Cavenaugh can seek another 4 year term.  Mayor Bob McBain having served 2 four year terms cannot seek re-election. Two seats will be filled at the election.

Two School Board members, Andrea Swenson and Sarah Pearson, will  have served 2 four year terms and cannot seek re-election.  The third School Board member, Cory Smegal, is eligible to be re-elected to another 4 year term.  Three seats on the Piedmont School Board will be filled at the election.

The City Council on July 6 will approve the protocols for Piedmont’s City Council and School Board Elections on the November General Election ballot.

Staff report: Approval of a Resolution Setting Procedural Details for the General Municipal Election of November 3, 2020

SECTION 7. There shall be no filing fee for candidates for office in the General Municipal Election.

SECTION 8. The candidates’ statements shall be limited to a maximum of 200 words.

SECTION 10. The nominations for the General Municipal Election shall open on July 13, 2020 and close no later than 5:00 pm on August 7, 2020, unless extended pursuant to Elections Code Section 10225.

ANSWER to the question of who is running?  It is not known for candidates have not publicly announced their candidacy.

Contact  City Clerk John O. Tulloch at 510/420-3040. 

Window looking out from inside the Piedmont City Hall Council Chambe

 

 Resolution Setting Procedural Details for the General Municipal Election of November 3, 2020

Jun 29 2020

Recreation projects should be separated from fire and police measures.

Because of COVID- 19, ballot measures in November will not allow for full community discussion of City projects and needs.

Letter sent to the Piedmont City Council:

Based on the survey results and the limitations to public participation brought on by the pandemic, November 2020 does not seem like an appropriate time to put these two initiatives on the ballot, especially the facilities matter.

Every indication suggests a second wave of the pandemic will occur in the fall and these questions should not be put before Piedmonters under constraint.   “Robust resident education will be needed” – that will be a very difficult undertaking during the pandemic and should not be rushed or forced.  The typical forums available for voter education like League of Women Voters, house parties, clubs – won’t be available or will see reduced participation.

And, if put on the ballot, can the public outreach activities staff had planned before the pandemic go forward – it gives the appearance of city staff campaigning for the ballot.  Council should do as it did with the public safety contracts – postpone these ballot questions until more normal conditions return. Two years from now has the added advantage that three council seats – a majority – will be up for election, allowing for the community to send a clear signal of whether it supports these initiatives.

The polling results indicate that well over 60% of Piedmonters consider facilities as excellent, good or average.  The City Administrator concluded that Piedmonters do not clearly understand their facility needs but is that true?  Piedmonters are familiar with the facilities they use and see – recreation and park facilities – and not with the ones they don’t – the police and fire buildings.  The polling results indicate that most Piedmonters like what they see and it’s really up to the city to explain why these facilities need replacement.  Piedmonters understand the maintenance issue with the pool – it has been studied and discussed for years.  The proposals for the pool, Linda Beach and Coaches are for replacement, not maintenance, and looked at this way, the results could indicate that residents do not want these replacements.  To determine if that is the case, it would be better to have the public safety facilities and recreation facilities presented as separate ballot initiatives.

Finally, at a Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) meeting I attended, the Assistant City Manager/City Clerk indicated that General Obligation bonds might require two votes under the City Charter. The BAFPC suggested a way to avoid two votes would be to establish a Community Facilities District (CFD). I think the staff report is inaccurate when it states the BAFPC “favored” CFD bonds, though it did support a parcel-based tax assessment compared to an ad valorem one:

“The Committee recommends pursuing a parcel-based tax assessment. This is preferable to an ad valorem tax given that the facilities to be funded include primarily (or potentially exclusively) essential public services buildings benefiting all Piedmont residents.”

I think it is inaccurate to conclude that the facilities to be funded are primarily “essential public services”.  While I’ve enjoyed the recreation facilities in Piedmont, it is clear that not all residents utilize these facilities, especially so over the next 30 years as Piedmont “ages in place”.  Police and Fire are, of course, essential, so again, consider placing the public safety facilities and recreation facilities on separate ballot initiatives.

Garrett Keating, Former Member of Piedmont City Council

Jun 26 2020

At a Special Piedmont City Council meeting on Monday, June 29, 7:30 p.m., the Council will consider placing tax measures on the November 2020 ballot.  Also, the Council will give direction to staff on continued operation of the Community Pool.

Agenda and instructions on participation: council-current-agenda (1) 6292020

  Continued Operation of the Piedmont Community Pool

“Two years have passed since it was acknowledged that the city had “reached the point in the life of the pool where strong consideration should be given to constructing a new facility that would better serve the community needs and require little to no annual subsidy. Alternatively, consideration should be given to transitioning out of aquatics programming as a City service.” In the intervening time, the facility, as well as its ability to recover costs, have further deteriorated. Given the hard financial realities both of the City’s aged aquatics facility and for overall Recreation Department revenues, it falls on this Council to determine whether it has become cost-prohibitive to continue to operate this aquatics facility.”

Consideration of tax measures for November ballot:Provide Direction to Staff on the Preparation of Ballot Measures for the November 2020 Ballot Regarding Financing of Facilities Maintenance, and Renovation_Replacement Needs

Jun 23 2020

Piedmont is the highest taxed of comparable Bay Area cities.

The City Council is considering a raise to the tax when a Piedmont home is sold.

The City Council is currently considering a proposal from the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) to raise the real property transfer tax (RPTT) the tax buyers and sellers pay when buying a home in Piedmont.  The current rate is  $13/$1000* of the sales price and increases of 3, 3.5 and 7% are being considered.  The rationale given is to raise $850,000 annually to pay for facility maintenance.  Historically the RPTT has been $2.8M and revenue above that has been dedicated to facility maintenance. Over the past 10 years, RPTT has averaged $3.25M and with that excess, the Facility Maintenance Fund now stands at $5.8M.   An analysis of RPTT growth over the past 20 years shows a very consistent increase in revenue, the one outlier being the years 2008 to 2010 (Figure 1.)  Using the RPTT growth rate from the past 20 years shows that by 2030, RPTT revenue will be $4.5M.
Why this matters is that Council must choose a tax increase to put before the voters in November 2020, and should not raise taxes unless necessary.  An analysis by BAFPC shows that Piedmont is the highest taxed of comparable Bay Area cities (http://piedmont.hosted.civiclive.com/government/commissions___committees/budget_advisory___financial_planning_committee December 2019 report).
The City Finance Director estimates that the RPTT will be $2.2M next year and using that as a baseline justifies a 7% increase in order to raise the $850,000 for facility maintenance (Table 1).   If the preceding 10-year average of the RPTT is used, a 3% increase will rise enough for facility maintenance (400,000 + 805000 = $1.2M).  Assuming Piedmont home values continue to increase, no tax increase is needed – the steady increase in real estate values will raise more than enough for facility maintenance ($1,200,000)
Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont City Council Member 
*Updated: 6/25/2020
May 10 2020

Finally, a televised Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC)!

Most residents know little of this committee, but it is the source for all tax increases for the city.

BAFPC was recently directed by the City Council to develop funding proposals for major upgrades to city facilities. Three quick observations from the meeting on May 7, 2020:

– scenarios of $30, 45 and 70M bond initiatives are being studied

– apparently the community can live with “15 basis points” (0.15%) of bond indebtedness which translates to either the School District or City issuing $60M bond indebtedness every 5 years. The size of the city proposal could impinge on the District’s ability to issue bonds in 5 years. City staff will be reaching out to District officials to discuss this.

– Chair Bill Hosler offered a quick estimate – with  4,000 parcels in town, an equitable parcel tax of $1,000 per parcel for 10 years would raise $47M. I don’t recall if that was through issuance of bonds or just accumulated funds.

Hopefully, this Zoom meeting will be posted on the City website so residents can watch. Next BAFPC meeting is May 21 where a final recommendation to the City Council will likely be made.

Garrett Keating, Former Piedmont Councilmember

Editors’ Note: Above is a  comment on the post “First Time Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee Can Be Publicly Viewed from Home or Office.”

https://www.piedmontcivic.org/2020/05/06/first-time-piedmont-budget-advisory-and-financial-planning-committee-can-be-publicly-viewed-from-home-or-office/

No recording of the BAFPC Zoom meeting was found on the city website. 

May 6 2020

Bond Measure on November 2020 Ballot ?

Community participation in setting priorities ?

The Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) has recently been charged by the Piedmont City Council with coming up with ways to fund Piedmont public projects. 

According to public comments, funding is possibly a bond measure for the November 3, 2020 Piedmont ballot.  The Council will need to make a decision on placing a bond measure on the November ballot no later than August. 

To date, there have been no public meetings or surveys to determine the list of desired projects which Piedmonters would favor. 

Hundreds of thousands of dollars have already been spent by the City Council on consultants and staff work proposing and planning special recreation projects.  Recreation projects have focused on a new Municipal Pool and Aquatic Center, Linda Beach Park play areas, and Coaches Field.  Other city facilities are also on a priority list. 

Very recently, 20th century Fire and Police facilities and readiness have been added to the Council list of possible projects needing funding sources. Public input has not been solicited on these projects. 

Infrastructure improvements to roadways, sidewalks, curbs and gutters and  undergrounding of overhead wires are not listed on the City Council priority list for funding.

Where is the money going to come from?

BAFPC to advise the City Council on funding sources.

For the first time, at-home citizens will be able to view and participate in the BAFPC deliberations and recommendations. Typically, the meetings have been held away from cameras with no minutes produced of the meetings.  The BAFPC Chair generally writes the Committee recommendations that are forwarded to the City Council. 

The Committee advises on tax levies, bond measures, financial planning, and budgetary matters. See items listed on the May 7, 2020 meeting agenda below.

Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee Thursday, May 7, 2020 7:00 p.m. Via Teleconference

Members of the public can participate in the meeting by:

Computer or smart phone: Click https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88058053315

Telephone: Dial (669) 900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 880-5805-3315

Full meeting agenda and participation details click below:

 2020-05-07 Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee.

Back-up documentation and staff reports for the agenda have not been publicly disseminated. 

 Relevant prior staff report:

42020Consideration of Actions Related to the Planning Process for Possible City Facility Renovation Projects