Dear Fellow Piedmonters,
Let me explain why I am advocating for and endorsing Measure Y – the renewal of Piedmont’s Municipal Parcel Tax. Measure Y is neither a new nor tax increase, and every dollar collected stays in Piedmont to benefit Piedmont citizens.
The $1.63 million generated from the 32 year old parcel tax is critical to balancing the City’s $22.4 million budget, at a cost of less than $9 per week for most households.
Some have asked what would be cut if the existing parcel tax, representing 7.28% of the City’s budget, is not renewed. This would ultimately be decided by the City Council, after much public input. Let’s look at some of the possible cuts:
- Eliminate Library Services - $350,000
- Eliminate or reduce funding for equipment and facilities reserves - $900,000
- Draw down the City’s $2.8 million General Fund reserve
- Reduce police and fire staffing to generate $1.63 million, representing 16.5% of the $9.9 million personnel budget – translating to a headcount reduction of about 9 employees
- Cut salaries of every employee by over 15% or $1.63 million of the $10.7 million salary budget
- Reduce maintenance services for public parks, facilities and fields
None of the above options will be easy to implement and many would be very unpopular. How realistic are these choices?
- Reduce or eliminate equipment and facilities reserves funding - is counter to the Municipal Tax Review Committee (MTRC) recommendation, is not prudent, and robs from the future to pay for current costs, with failure to replace public safety equipment and maintain buildings impacting service levels
- Draw up to $1.63 million of General Fund reserves - would leave the City with under a 6% reserve, far below the MTRC recommended 15%
- Reduce public safety staffing - would impact the quality of services and reduce safety levels
- Reduce employee salaries by over 15% - will take time, be subject to good faith bargaining and labor laws, with potential turnovers impacting service levels
The City Council has and will continue to take proactive steps to deal with the complexity and rising cost of employee benefits over time, with the goal that any future increase in benefit costs will be covered by employees. We will be hiring an employee benefits consultant to identify additional options.
The bottom-line - The City needs the renewal of the parcel tax to remain financially sound and to maintain Piedmont’s high quality services.
Please vote yes on Measure Y.
John Chiang, Mayor