The council has voted to place the renewal of the current Atherton Parcel Tax on the 5 Nov ballot.
Here is the Ballot Argument in support of the Parcel Tax:
"The parcel tax is not a new tax. It is a renewal of the Town's existing parcel tax which has been supported by the residents for the last 30+ years. As before, this tax will last four years and raises approximately $1.86M annually, equaling $7.5M over the four year term. The tax is about about $750 per household for most residential parcels.
All parcel tax revenue goes directly to the Town, while only 9% of regular property tax revenue is received by the Town. Parcel tax revenue will continue to be allocated as a budget supplement for our public safety and crime prevention services and also fund capital improvements for street, drainage and flood control projects which have often been ignored.
While it is true, that the Town's financial situation has improved over the last two years, the parcel tax remains a critical funding source for many pressing capital improvement projects while also helping to maintain our current police services and the critical 9-1-1 capabilities.
Atherton receives little sales tax revenue and has few other sources. Whenever possible, grants are obtained to help fund capital projects; however grants are scarce in this economic climate. The Town acts prudently with your money and has received clean Audits. The Town scrutinizes budget expenditures to reduce costs where appropriate including the elimination of our long term liabilities.
Without the parcel tax our current reserves, which are for future economic uncertainties and emergencies, would be depleted.
The parcel tax renewal requires a two-third's majority. Please renew the parcel tax so that your local government can continue to provide the safety, security, road repairs, drainage and flood control work necessary to maintain the quality of life we all enjoy.
Please vote Yes for Atherton."
signed by the four current council members.
No Ballot Argument against the Parcel Tax was submitted and therefore there will be no rebuttal to the FOR argument nor a rebuttal to the non-existent Against article.
Therefore perhaps the Town Forum will be a suitable place for a thoughtful discussion of this issue. To that end I will try to begin the discussion with some facts (note that I have not yet taken a personal position either for or against the Parcel Tax renewal):
The Town's 2013/14 proposed budget shows: Revenues $10,814,475
of which $1,858,000 would be
from the Parcel Tax
The budget states:"Without this (Parcel Tax) revenue, the Town would be required to expend this amount from the Town's unallocated General Fund or Reserves to maintain current service levels in public safety and current funding levels within the Capital Projects budget."
In 2014 the proposed budget shows $1,116,000 from the proposed Parcel Tax going to the police department.
The Police Services budget, including that $1,116,000 from the proposed Parcel Tax, for FY 2013-2014 is $5,577,474
The ballot argument states:"Without the parcel tax our current reserves, which are for future economic uncertainties and emergencies, would be depleted."
Here are the current reserve funds:
For FY 2013-2014, the Town's Reserves are:
15% Emergency Reserve - $1,567,645
20% Unassigned Reserve - $2,090,194
Building Contingency - $411,802