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Wednesday: Atherton parcel-tax renewal on council agenda

Meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

As the Aug. 11 deadline for putting a measure on the Nov. 7 ballot nears, Atherton's City Council will discuss the details of a measure that would continue the town's parcel tax beyond its mid-2018 expiration date when it meets Wednesday, July 19.

The meeting, which is the only council meeting scheduled for July, has a long agenda that includes discussion of the civic center project, a review of Caltrain's plans to cut trees along the rail corridor, a lease agreement with Atherton Fiber, and an agreement with the Las Lomitas School District to put a flood-control measure on its property.

The study session portion of the meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. and the regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the town's council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

Parcel tax

Atherton has had a parcel tax since 1978, but under state law it must be renewed every four years. In the past two elections the measure passed with 78 percent of the vote in 2009 and with 73 percent of the vote in 2013, more than the two-thirds required.

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The existing parcel tax varies by parcel size and use. For homes on the average Atherton lot of between a half and two acres, the tax is $750 per year. The tax is as low as $225 for unimproved parcels between a quarter and half acre, and it's as high as $10,000 for a private club.

The tax brings the town annual revenues of $1.86 million. Its proceeds can only be spent on the town's police services and on its roads and drainage system.

Civic center

The council will get an update on the civic center project and will need to make a decision on whether it wants to spend money designing an option for the new library that would postpone renovating the historic council chambers building so they can become part of the new library.

The laws governing bidding by public agencies say that plans can't be changed after the bids have been made without a new round of bidding, so the town needs to design in advance any money-saving changes that might be wanted if bids come in too high. All the bidders would bid on the plans with and without the alternatives.

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On June 21, the council approved a number of other design alternatives that could reduce the cost of the civic center by as much as 10 percent.

But the council put off the decision on whether to spend up to $85,000 on design work involved in deferring the renovation of the historic current council chambers, which could save $1.14 million, until it takes a closer look at the available funds for the library project.

Leases

The council will also consider two leases, with Atherton Fiber, the company currently installing an optical fiber network in Atherton; and with the Las Lomitas School District for town drainage facilities that will placed on school district property.

The lease with the school district will allow Atherton to use up to $13.6 million in California Department of Transportation-administered funds to build a "water capture facility" designed to send storm water and runoff into an underground detention facility at the Las Lomitas School, remove pollutants and trash that would otherwise flow into the Bay, and help prevent flooding.

The July 19 meeting also includes a look at Caltrain's plans for cutting trees in Atherton along the Caltrain corridor to allow work on Caltrain's project to electrify its train service.

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Wednesday: Atherton parcel-tax renewal on council agenda

Meeting starts at 5:30 p.m.

by Barbara Wood / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Jul 17, 2017, 2:52 pm

As the Aug. 11 deadline for putting a measure on the Nov. 7 ballot nears, Atherton's City Council will discuss the details of a measure that would continue the town's parcel tax beyond its mid-2018 expiration date when it meets Wednesday, July 19.

The meeting, which is the only council meeting scheduled for July, has a long agenda that includes discussion of the civic center project, a review of Caltrain's plans to cut trees along the rail corridor, a lease agreement with Atherton Fiber, and an agreement with the Las Lomitas School District to put a flood-control measure on its property.

The study session portion of the meeting starts at 5:30 p.m. and the regular meeting at 7 p.m. in the town's council chambers at 94 Ashfield Road.

Parcel tax

Atherton has had a parcel tax since 1978, but under state law it must be renewed every four years. In the past two elections the measure passed with 78 percent of the vote in 2009 and with 73 percent of the vote in 2013, more than the two-thirds required.

The existing parcel tax varies by parcel size and use. For homes on the average Atherton lot of between a half and two acres, the tax is $750 per year. The tax is as low as $225 for unimproved parcels between a quarter and half acre, and it's as high as $10,000 for a private club.

The tax brings the town annual revenues of $1.86 million. Its proceeds can only be spent on the town's police services and on its roads and drainage system.

Civic center

The council will get an update on the civic center project and will need to make a decision on whether it wants to spend money designing an option for the new library that would postpone renovating the historic council chambers building so they can become part of the new library.

The laws governing bidding by public agencies say that plans can't be changed after the bids have been made without a new round of bidding, so the town needs to design in advance any money-saving changes that might be wanted if bids come in too high. All the bidders would bid on the plans with and without the alternatives.

On June 21, the council approved a number of other design alternatives that could reduce the cost of the civic center by as much as 10 percent.

But the council put off the decision on whether to spend up to $85,000 on design work involved in deferring the renovation of the historic current council chambers, which could save $1.14 million, until it takes a closer look at the available funds for the library project.

Leases

The council will also consider two leases, with Atherton Fiber, the company currently installing an optical fiber network in Atherton; and with the Las Lomitas School District for town drainage facilities that will placed on school district property.

The lease with the school district will allow Atherton to use up to $13.6 million in California Department of Transportation-administered funds to build a "water capture facility" designed to send storm water and runoff into an underground detention facility at the Las Lomitas School, remove pollutants and trash that would otherwise flow into the Bay, and help prevent flooding.

The July 19 meeting also includes a look at Caltrain's plans for cutting trees in Atherton along the Caltrain corridor to allow work on Caltrain's project to electrify its train service.

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