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Letter: Vice Mayor's Thoughts on Measure Y

Vice Mayor Margaret Fujioka offers some last-minute thoughts on the renewal of Piedmont's parcel tax.

Editor:

With election day upon us, I'd like to leave you with a few thoughts to consider regarding Measure Y:  

The Municipal Tax Review Committee (MTRC) and the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC) recommended renewal of the parcel tax. The 2011 MTRC report stated, "Parcel tax revenue has become an essential component of the City's fiscal picture.  Therefore, it will be essential to renew the parcel tax at its current level before it expires on June 30, 2013."  The BAC unanimously stated in 2012:  "...If the parcel tax renewal measure on the November 2012 ballot fails to achieve a 2/3 majority, the Council will...face the unpleasant prospect of having to make unprecedented cuts in programs..."  One of the leading parcel tax opponents served on the BAC yet now disagrees with the very recommendation he adopted in the BAC report to "send a message" to the City Council about moving faster on controlling employee costs.  

While I concur with the BAC report's recommendation that employees will have to contribute more to their pensions and benefits, such employee contract terms do not occur overnight which appears to be an assumption underlying the "No on Y" campaign. Rather, the City will enter into good faith negotiations with the employee unions and such negotiations, as is true for any public entity, may take time to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion.  In the case of the Firefighters' Union, it took over a year to reach agreement on the 2011-12 contract because the City's demand for concessions were initially rejected. Until labor negotiations are completed, cuts will need to be made to balance the budget by end of fiscal year or June 30, 2013, if Measure Y fails.   

Let's remember, the parcel tax generates $1.63 million per year. If it is not renewed, $1.63 million will be cut this year and every year thereafter. It is not a question of if these cuts will happen, but rather where they will come from. This a matter of arithmetic and logic. The City cannot sustain the loss of $1.63 million per year and over $6.5 million over 4 years without cuts.

Unlike many other cities, Piedmont has not had to face the prospect of, for example, eliminating its library services, reducing maintenance of public areas, and not funding its equipment and facilities replacement funds, which the BAC strongly recommended be funded. As chair of the BAC and member of the MTRC, Bill Hosler, stated, "Our general fund reserve — our meager savings account — is about twice the annual amount of revenue from Measure Y. Every year without the revenue from Measure Y is the equivalent of burning through half our savings." Renewing the parcel tax is fiscally prudent. Vote "yes" on Measure Y.   

Margaret Fujioka
Vice Mayor 

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Rick Schiller November 06, 2012 at 06:13 AM
A reasonable counterpoint to the above: http://piedmont.patch.com/articles/letter-to-the-editor-a-divided-electorate
Neil Teixeira November 06, 2012 at 01:57 PM
Piedmont City and PUSD parcel taxes are "all" skewed and selective. Our parcel taxes victimizes the modest sized lots-while benefiting the largest lot owners. The smallest residential home owner is paying 24X more in taxes than the largest lot owner. This is not right and it marginalizes a vital segment of our community. City and School leaders have refused to explain to the public why they embrace, a parcel tax apportionment and methodology that victimizes its citizen's. VOTE NO ON ALL PARCEL TAXES.
Mark Landheer November 06, 2012 at 03:08 PM
The same folks who do little to nothing for our community are once again pursuing their own narrow agenda at the expense of the greater good. Compare this to all the hard working volunteers in our community who have expressed their support for measure Y. They do so not for their own interest, but because they understand it benefits all of us. I own a small lot, but understand we are in this together to ensure we continue to hae the great services that make Piedmont such a wonderful place to live. Vote YES on measure Y.
Ryan Gilbert November 06, 2012 at 03:28 PM
Mark - a bit unfair don't you think. Almost every one of our committee has served on city council appointed committees and commissions, LWV groups, volunteered in the schools and been long time residents. They are the hard working volunteers you refer to. Lets focus on the reasons why we oppose measure Y: all can be found at www.NoOnMeasureY.com. Vote No on Measure Y. Happy Election Day!
Rick Schiller November 06, 2012 at 07:44 PM
One very unfortunate aspect of the Measure Y election is the dogmatic nature of the illogical attacks against opponents that proponents are using. One example is the following from PRFO: “If Measure Y loses, opponents will use the loss as leverage to deter future City Councils from public/private partnerships and investments in city infrastructure, including efforts to build new field space for sports and recreation in Piedmont (Nov. 5, 2012 PRFO email).” Contrary to the above PRFO statement, not one word from opponents has been printed or spoken advocating the cessation of future projects. We do believe it is in the best interest of Piedmont to embrace financially prudent risk assessment for any future project as was asked for by the MTRC majority, and recommended by the City Council audit sub-committee and the LWV Undergrounding Task Force.
Mark Landheer November 07, 2012 at 10:58 PM
Measure Y passed with more than 2/3 majority! If Blair Park were on the ballot, it would have passed too, instead of a small minority being able to prevent it. Ryan, tell me who from FOMC, or folks such as Rick Schiller or Neil Texeira are giving back to our community and exactly how? All I read from them is preventing the greater good and I am pleased to see that the (large) majority has spoken on Measure Y as they did in electing Margaret Fujioka last year, along with Bob McBain.
Neil Teixeira November 08, 2012 at 12:00 AM
Mark, I give back (58 years) by not plundering and looting the tax payers savings for risky private endeavors: PHUUD undergrounding ($2.5 million), Crest Road ($300,000), Seaview Lawsuit ($685,000), or a hairbrained sports arena ($350,000) that YOU.... promised everyone.......was a FREE gift. Thats your track record...............not mine! Neil Teixeira

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