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. 

Jun 30 2020

Council Seeks Ways for Both Real Property Transfer Tax and General Obligation Bond on November Ballot.

At the Special Council meeting on June 29, 2020, the Council met a complicated set of financing options to deliberate.   After several hours of considering the pool closure and alternatives, a lawyer, financial advisor, Director of Finance, City Administrator and the Council attempted to provide a way of financing improvements to City facilities.

The Community Pool was considered primarily for a bond measure, however many roadblocks arose on the timing and advisability.  The cost for a new Aquatic Center has been roughly estimated up to twenty million dollars.

Some wanted public safety needs to be on the ballot separately from the recreation facility improvements, while others wanted all desirables together on the ballot.

Complex financing mechanisms were suggested from Certificates of Participation to lease back of City facilities. Problems with a bond measure preparation and timing appeared to be disappointing news for the Council, most of whom seemed unfamiliar with the various financing mechanisms.

It was noted that Piedmont would receive a AA+ rating for bonds, as “the City does not hold any debt.”  No mention was made of the money currently borrowed from the State to finance Piedmont’s sewer rehabilitation projects.

The Real Property Transfer Tax (RPTT) increase was discussed and is likely to be approved for the ballot.  Council members noted the RPTT  is levied only at the time a property is sold bringing them to believe the one time expense would be acceptable to voters.

A poll was professionally conducted to determine if voters would likely approve the taxes, and the poll showed passage would be difficult to pass at the 66 2/3 rds level.

Facing a tight August deadline for putting any tax measures on the November ballot, the Council will consider the measures at upcoming meetings.

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
Jun 17 2020

“Piedmont is the highest taxed city in the area.”

Letter to the Piedmont City Council regarding increase in Piedmont taxes.

Table 4 of the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) report provides scenarios of increased property transfer tax (RPTT) revenue based on alternative increases to the tax.  The analysis looks backward and provides you with increased revenue the city would have received over the past 10 years had these rates been in place.  That’s an understatement and I recommend you give direction to staff to conduct a fourth scenario that forecasts RPTT growth under the current tax rate that will occur based on the growth rate of the past 10 years.  This is very easy to do and will provide you with information to select the appropriate tax increase, if indeed one is needed at all. 
Three reasons: First, as the BAFPC analysis shows, Piedmont is the highest taxed city in the area and adding more taxes to that burden should be factually considered. Second, the Facilities Maintenance Fund is fully funded.  Third, as the Public Works Director said at your last meeting, facilities maintenance is on pace and substantial deferred maintenance has been achieved under current RPTT revenue.  As you know, the past 5 years have seen record RPTT receipts even in a period of declining sales so there is good reason to analyze whether the a tax increase is needed.

I have some questions for staff:

City Administrator:  the BAFPC recommended city staff dialogue with PUSD officials about how increases in city taxes might impact the District’s need for additional funds.  Can you elaborate on these discussions?

Finance Director:  even in the midst of the pandemic, you recently stated the real estate market is “robust”. Can you elaborate on your projection that revenue will drop by 29% in 20-21,  yielding a RPTT of $2.2M.  Is that due to a drop in the number of sales or home prices?

Assistant City Clerk; You stated that under the City Charter, a bond initiative might require two votes.  Can you elaborate on that and any conclusions?  If that were the case, some have suggested a facilities district as a way to avoid 2 votes. I recommend Council abide by the Piedmont City Charter.

Garrett Keating
Former Member Piedmont City Council 
Link to Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee report > Receipt of a Report from the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee on Financing Options for Improvement of City Facilities
Jun 13 2020

The Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee’s recommendations are as follows:

Facilities Maintenance and Other Infrastructure Needs 

The Committee recommends an increase in the Real Property Transfer Tax (RPTT)  in order to meet the needs of the facilities replacement fund and other infrastructure needs on an average annual basis of at least $700,000 – $900,000. The Committee believes this increase should run in perpetuity until otherwise determined by the citizens that it is no longer necessary.

Capital Projects

The Committee believes that it is necessary and appropriate for the City to pursue debt financing for the City’s public building needs. Determining the amount of debt financing, and the scope of facility projects, will require public input and careful consideration by the Council.

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. 

Despite current economic uncertainty, the Council should move swiftly in planning for the City’s most urgent facility needs, specifically the City’s police and fire stations, to take advantage of current low long-term interest rates, and the decline in local debt service burden occurring in 2021 and 2022.

Click below to read the full report.

PCA Receipt of a Report from the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee on Financing Options for Improvement of City Facilities

TO VIEW AND PARTICIPATE IN THE JUNE 15 CITY COUNCIL MEETING, CLICK BELOW FOR THE AGENDA AND INFORMATION.

https://piedmont.ca.gov/UserFiles/Servers/Server_13659739/File/Government/City%20Council/Agenda/council-current-agenda.pdf

Jun 9 2020

Piedmont Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee

Thursday, June 11, 2020, 3:00 pm

Agenda

1. Consideration of a Report to the City Council on Financing Options for Improvement of City Facilities –

Documents for the committee meeting have not been publicly released.

Click below for instructions on how to observe and participate via Zoom.  The meeting is open to all.  Minutes and videos are not kept of the meetings.

2020-06-11 Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

May 25 2020

Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee Meeting

Wednesday, May 27, 2020       3:00 p.m.

Consideration of 2020 – 2021 Piedmont Budget

Via Teleconference

Zoom link:  https://us02web.zoom.us/j/88326534001

Members of the public may comment on agenda items. See details on agenda linked below:

2020-05-27 Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

May 14 2020

Special Council Meeting to discuss Piedmont’s finances: taxes, fees, revenues, fund balances, and future expenditures.

Saturday, May 16, 2020, 9 a.m.

Pleas for greater access to budget meetings have been assisted by COVID-19 rules.  The City instructs:

Members of the public can participate in the meeting in several ways:
Computer or smartphone: Click on https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87949769104 
OR
Telephone:Dial (669)900-9128 and enter webinar/meeting number 87949769104

Citizens may download the Zoom application to a computer or smartphone and become familiar with how to utilize this tool before the meeting.

For decades, the Piedmont City Council has met away from cameras to discuss how Piedmont’s money will be managed.  Interested residents have gone to a conference room in the Police Department to hear from Piedmont’s department heads on proposed expenditures. Because of the COVID-19 crisis, the Council will have a virtual meeting presenting an opportunity for anyone to learn first hand from home or office how Piedmont’s money is planned to be disbursed.   Capital projects, fees, and taxes are also going to be considered. 

During the budget session, each department head presents the reasons they are requesting funding.  The Council and participants can ask questions during the process.

See the agenda linked below to learn how to participate during the Special Saturday, May 16 Meeting.  

City Council Agenda 2020-05-16 (Special)

Agenda:

1. Overview of the Proposed FY 2020-2021 Budget by the City Administrator

2. Review of Departmental Budgets for FY 2020-2021

a. Administration and KCOM

b. Public Works c. Planning & Building

d. Recreation

e. Police

f. Fire

g. Non-Departmental and Other Funds Budgets

Below are the proposed budget documents to be considered by the City Council for the fiscal year which runs from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021.

For questions on contents of the budget, please contact Finance Director Michael Szczech via email at mszczech@piedmont.ca.gov or by phone at (510) 420-3045.

If you wish to write to the Council regarding the budget, please send an email to the City Council at citycouncil@piedmont.ca.gov or send a letter via U.S. Mail to Piedmont City Council, c/o City Clerk’s Office, 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, 94611.

City Council Agenda 2020-05-16 (Special)