Almanac

News - June 18, 2014

Parcel tax on Atherton council agenda

by Renee Batti

Resolutions assessing Atherton's annual parcel tax at the maximum rate and approving small salary increases for town staff, including the city manager, are on the June 18 City Council agenda.

Voters in November renewed the parcel tax for another four years, although a number of residents and elected officials are increasingly advocating that the town find alternative methods of raising revenue.

The tax, when charged at the maximum rate, costs most property owners in town $750 per parcel and raises about $1.86 million a year. The town has relied heavily through the years on revenue from the tax, along with property taxes, because Atherton has no commercial tax base.

The council must approve charging the tax each year, and can set its rate lower than the voter-approved maximum. At a study session earlier this month, Councilman Bill Widmer argued that, because of the town's robust revenue stream in recent times, the council should lower the rate for the coming year. He suggested a 25 percent reduction.

Although Councilman Rick DeGolia appeared ready to support a reduction, he ultimately sided with Mayor Cary Wiest and Councilwoman Elizabeth Lewis, and the town staff was directed to come back to the June 18 meeting with a resolution keeping the tax at the maximum rate.

All council members indicated they would consider lowering the rate in the future, after master plans that may identify needed projects are complete, and the council has completed its review of revenue alternatives.

The meeting begins at 7 p.m. in the Town Council Chambers at 94 Ashfield Road, in the Town Center.

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