Although Atherton is in better financial shape than it has been for years, residents should still pay the full amount of the parcel tax they approved in 2013, the City Council has decided, because the town has so many capital improvement projects waiting.
Atherton's City Council on June 17 approved a town budget for the fiscal year starting July 1 and set the parcel tax rate, which is $750 a year for homes on lots of between one-half and two acres.
One major project council members say they are dreading is spending as much as $30 million on drainage improvements, especially on Marsh Road.
"I think it's become time to pay the piper" after years of deferring needed projects, Councilman Mike Lempres said. "We have tremendous needs right now."
Councilman Bill Widmer was the only council member who voted against the parcel tax proposal. "I'm against assessing the full extent of the parcel tax," he said. Instead, he said, the town should replace it with some unanticipated, and probably one-time, income from a sales tax/use tax and a no-longer-needed reserve fund.
Councilman Cary Wiest said reducing the parcel tax could delay necessary repairs and improvements and cost the town more in the long run because costs could escalate.
In other business, the council had been expected to discuss an appeal by Menlo College and Menlo School to modify the use permit for the athletic field the two schools share. The modification would allow a limited number of baseball games to be played on Sundays.
The appeal was withdrawn before the meeting. A June 16 letter says the college will "make other arrangements" for make-up baseball games.
The school and college had originally asked Atherton's Planning Commission to alter their use permit to allow games and sports camps on Sundays, which they admit they had been doing for years, even though their use permit forbade it.
Opposition from neighbors reduced the request to simply permitting up to five Sunday make-up baseball games a year, but Atherton's Planning Commission denied that application.
The school and college want to do major renovations on Cartan Field. In late 2012 they proposed demolishing and rebuilding the field and all of its facilities, but withdrew the application after the town asked for an environmental impact report.
The town said it will also make sure that a public address system, also outlawed by the use permit, is not being used on the field.