Measure Y Parcel Tax: Rebuttal Arguments

Proponents and opponents of the November ballot measure to renew Piedmont's municipal services tax tackle each other's arguments.

Piedmont voters will decide in November whether to renew the city's municipal services tax ("parcel tax"). The measure, which will appear on the ballot as Measure Y, requires two-thirds approval to pass. 

Groups for and against Measure Y submitted written arguments to City Clerk John Tulloch last week. Rebuttals to those arguments were due in the City Clerk's office by Aug. 27 and were published on the City of Piedmont website late Monday afternoon. 

The rebuttal arguments as submitted to the City Clerk are printed below and may also be viewed on the city website.Parcel Tax Renewal: Pro, Con and Impartial" or on the city website.


The proponents are misrepresenting the MTRC position. The MTRC unanimously recognized that "passing the current parcel tax without addressing expense commitments is not fiscally prudent." The MTRC supplemental statement delineated expectations for the Council to control expenses, manage risk and set budget priorities before seeking tax renewal. Because the Council has made inadequate progress on critical expectations, the MTRC majority opposes Measure Y.

Despite dangerously low reserves, the Council wasted millions on undergrounding, the pool takeover, Blair Park, and uncontrolled fringe benefits.  Piedmont's police and fire services cost 50-75% more per household than in comparable small, affluent cities.  In the past two years, the MTRC, Budget Advisory Committee and Undergrounding Task Force have given the Council a road map to fiscal soundness, yet the Council still hasn’t acted on these groups' most important recommendations.  Piedmont’s voters must now force the issue by demonstrating they don't support poor financial decisions and wasteful spending.

Scare tactics aside, essential services are NOT at stake. The parcel tax provides only 7% of the City’s budget. The Council can ask for the parcel tax renewal again, after instituting needed reforms and regaining our confidence, and seek service efficiencies now while phasing in benefit reforms. Piedmont cannot afford to let the Council “kick the can down the road.” If the Council continues to delay reforms, the possible consequences could be serious, including inability to meet obligations to our citizens and valued employees.

Put the brakes on the Council’s wasteful spending. Vote NO on Measure Y.

Michael Rancer, Chair, Municipal Tax Review Committee
Mary B. Heller, Member, Task Force on Undergrounding
Kathleen Quenneville, Member, Task Force on Undergrounding
Tim Rood, Member, Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee
Rick Schiller, Piedmont Taxpayer  

Rebuttal to argument opposing Measure Y

For over three decades, Piedmont voters have supported the Municipal Services parcel tax which provides essential funding to maintain municipal services: police, fire, library services, paramedics, recreation, street repair and maintenance, and parks.

The opponents to Measure Y want to eliminate this critical source of funding because they are unhappy with the way Piedmont is managed. They believe that the way to get their way is to cut $1.6 million from our community budget — money that even they have described as essential to the running of the city. The following quote is from the Municipal Tax Review Committee:

“Parcel tax revenue has become an essential component of the City's fiscal picture. ... it will be essential to renew the parcel tax at its current level ..." Municipal Tax Review Committee Chair: Michael Rancer

Measure Y is not a new tax — it just extends the current tax. Without Measure Y Piedmont will face significant cuts to city services. Countless meetings will be held and, in the end, it is likely that service levels will be reduced or the city will not set aside funds for replacement and repair of assets.

This measure has nothing to do with undergrounding, play fields or pensions. It is merely an extension of a tax we have been paying for 32 years.

Vote YES on Measure Y because you value the services our City provides to the community.   Every dollar stays in Piedmont to benefit all Piedmonters and the quality of life we enjoy.

John Y. Chiang

Valerie Matzger
Former Mayor

Bill Hosler
Chair, Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee

Mary M. Geong
Member, Budget Advisory Advisory and Financial Planning Committee

Steve Hollis
Member, Municipal Tax Review Committee

Michael Roman August 28, 2012 at 08:34 PM
In their rebuttal argument, the proponents of the tax do not challenge any of the allegations of fiscal mismanagement by Piedmont elected officials which are so self evident. Michael Roman Oakmont Road
Tim Rood August 28, 2012 at 09:35 PM
The proponents' argument in favor of Measure Y contains a misstatement. "The City Council unanimously supports renewal of the existing Municipal Services Tax........" is untrue. While Garrett Keating and the other Council members voted for the resolution to put the measure on the ballot, there was in fact no resolution proposed or passed by the Council supporting Measure Y.
Mike Savage August 28, 2012 at 10:16 PM
These aren't the droids you're looking for.
Rick Schiller August 30, 2012 at 12:40 AM
The Proponent rebuttal is listing out some of the more obvious missteps: "This measure has nothing to do with undergrounding ($2.1M), play fields (Blair Park will cost minimally $194,000 + >$220,000 owed) or pensions (many millions)." The proponent list should have also included the "gift of public funds" to fill in the PHUUD Crest Rd washout ($275,000), the ill-advised anti-slapp litigation against the Kurtin's-Hills Seaview Undergrounding District (total taxpayer cost of litigation c. $550,000) and the City's dishonest argument that lead to the measure A sewer tax surcharge being on the Feb. ballot; $11M was asked for, twice the cost of a project that was not required by the EPA. The disturbing aspect of the proponent rebuttal is that City Hall does not wish to engage in any type of acknowledgement, dialogue and correction moving forward. Hopefully they must act when a second City tax is decisively defeated this year. Possibly I could accept what happened with the bedrock riddled PHUUD Undergrounding if there had been any effort at a real examination. Having those who voted for the giveaway, with City Administrator Geoff Grote as staff, speaks for itself. As soon as possible all depositions from the litigation should be released as the City will not investigate itself or allow an outside investigation; a "confidential" settlement will not serve residents by permanently hiding why staff kept digging when the money was long gone.
garrett Keating August 30, 2012 at 05:52 PM
Tim is correct. City Council has passed no resolution in support of Measure Y. In fact, Council expressly chose not to adopt a resolution wherein all five Council members would sign the ballot statement but instead gave authority to a minority of Council to prepare the ballot statement in support of Measure Y. That does not constitute unanimous support for the measure but simply allows council members in their capacity as elected officials join the proponent statement. I think the confusion stems in part from the agenda scheduling. The resolution for the ballot statement was brought to Council between readings of the resolution putting Measure Y on the ballot. Had the Measure Y resolution gone through two readings first, a subsequent ballot resolution would have been better informed by the comments of individual Council members.


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