News

Today: Tax, school board elections in Atherton, Portola Valley

Tuesday, Nov. 7, is Election Day. A parcel tax measure is on the ballot in Atherton and there's a school board election in the Portola Valley School District.

Results will start coming in from the San Mateo County elections office beginning at 8:05 p.m. that night. Sign up to receive an email when new results are posted at ShapeTheFuture.org, the county's election website.

Find the results here once they have been posted.

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Atherton parcel tax

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Measure F asks for a three-year renewal of the town's parcel tax. The terms of the tax, which the town has had since 1978, are the same as currently in place, except the term will be for three years instead of the maximum four years. The tax costs the average homeowner $750 a year.

The three-year term will put future renewals on the ballot in presidential election years, when voter turnout is historically higher and the town's proportional share of the election cost is lower.

Passage requires the approval of at least two-thirds of those voting.

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

The tax brings the town annual revenues of $1.86 million. Its proceeds can be spent only on the town's police services and on its roads and drainage system. The current parcel tax expires in mid-2018, and the proposed tax will expire June 30, 2021.

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The parcel tax had the approval of 78 percent of voters in 2009 and 73 percent in 2013.

The ballot text reads: "To continue providing funding to maintain neighborhood police patrols and the Town's ability to respond to emergencies, repairing and maintaining streets, and repairing and constructing storm drains, shall an ordinance be adopted to continue a Special Parcel Tax for three years and allowing for the expenditure of funds derived from such tax?"

Opponents argue that the town no longer needs the parcel tax, which was passed in the wake of Proposition 13, because property tax revenues have risen so much in recent years.

Proponents say that the town does need the parcel tax for at least three more years, while the new civic center is built, to pay for capital improvement projects and designated police services.

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Portola Valley school board

The ballot for the Portola Valley School District's board has four candidates for three open seats. But Karen Tate, the only incumbent on the ballot, has withdrawn from the race because of health problems and has said she will have to immediately resign if elected.

The other candidates are Karyn Bechtel, Mike Maffia and Jeff Klugman, all parents of district students.

If Ms. Tate is elected, the board will have to either make an appointment to replace her or set a special election, which would be next April at the earliest.

Even if Ms. Tate is not elected, the school board will have to either make at least one appointment or set a special election. That's because last month the current board appointed Mr. Klugman to fill a seat left vacant by the resignation of board member Jennifer Youstra in September, who had two years remaining in her term.

State law says that if Mr. Klugman is elected, he will have to resign the appointed position and take the elected position.

Superintendent Eric Hartwig has said that he thinks the board could either make the appointment (or two if both Ms. Tate and Mr. Klugman are elected) or vote in December to hold a special election next year.

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Today: Tax, school board elections in Atherton, Portola Valley

by Barbara Wood / Almanac

Uploaded: Mon, Nov 6, 2017, 9:44 am
Updated: Tue, Nov 7, 2017, 10:34 am

Tuesday, Nov. 7, is Election Day. A parcel tax measure is on the ballot in Atherton and there's a school board election in the Portola Valley School District.

Results will start coming in from the San Mateo County elections office beginning at 8:05 p.m. that night. Sign up to receive an email when new results are posted at ShapeTheFuture.org, the county's election website.

Find the results here once they have been posted.

--

Atherton parcel tax

Measure F asks for a three-year renewal of the town's parcel tax. The terms of the tax, which the town has had since 1978, are the same as currently in place, except the term will be for three years instead of the maximum four years. The tax costs the average homeowner $750 a year.

The three-year term will put future renewals on the ballot in presidential election years, when voter turnout is historically higher and the town's proportional share of the election cost is lower.

Passage requires the approval of at least two-thirds of those voting.

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

The tax brings the town annual revenues of $1.86 million. Its proceeds can be spent only on the town's police services and on its roads and drainage system. The current parcel tax expires in mid-2018, and the proposed tax will expire June 30, 2021.

The parcel tax had the approval of 78 percent of voters in 2009 and 73 percent in 2013.

The ballot text reads: "To continue providing funding to maintain neighborhood police patrols and the Town's ability to respond to emergencies, repairing and maintaining streets, and repairing and constructing storm drains, shall an ordinance be adopted to continue a Special Parcel Tax for three years and allowing for the expenditure of funds derived from such tax?"

Opponents argue that the town no longer needs the parcel tax, which was passed in the wake of Proposition 13, because property tax revenues have risen so much in recent years.

Proponents say that the town does need the parcel tax for at least three more years, while the new civic center is built, to pay for capital improvement projects and designated police services.

--

Portola Valley school board

The ballot for the Portola Valley School District's board has four candidates for three open seats. But Karen Tate, the only incumbent on the ballot, has withdrawn from the race because of health problems and has said she will have to immediately resign if elected.

The other candidates are Karyn Bechtel, Mike Maffia and Jeff Klugman, all parents of district students.

If Ms. Tate is elected, the board will have to either make an appointment to replace her or set a special election, which would be next April at the earliest.

Even if Ms. Tate is not elected, the school board will have to either make at least one appointment or set a special election. That's because last month the current board appointed Mr. Klugman to fill a seat left vacant by the resignation of board member Jennifer Youstra in September, who had two years remaining in her term.

State law says that if Mr. Klugman is elected, he will have to resign the appointed position and take the elected position.

Superintendent Eric Hartwig has said that he thinks the board could either make the appointment (or two if both Ms. Tate and Mr. Klugman are elected) or vote in December to hold a special election next year.

Comments

Mike
Atherton: other
on Nov 7, 2017 at 2:04 pm
Mike, Atherton: other
on Nov 7, 2017 at 2:04 pm

We have lived in Atherton since 1988, and as noted above have paid a parcel tax every year. Atherton of course has essentially no sales tax. It seems to me the parcel tax is a small price to pay for excellent municipal service and roads, which is why I'm voting YES.


Gary Lauder
Atherton: other
on Nov 7, 2017 at 3:54 pm
Gary Lauder, Atherton: other
on Nov 7, 2017 at 3:54 pm

The Atherton parcel tax is — quite literally — a small price to pay.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 7, 2017 at 9:34 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Nov 7, 2017 at 9:34 pm

Measure F has lost by a considerable margin - only 51% yes when 67% was needed.

Why should citizens support a measure on which a majority of the Council stood virtually silent?

We have been here before when a previous parcel tax vote lost and then a citizen led effort resulted in a win the second time around.

Is there CITIZEN support for another try?


Telling it like it is
Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:00 pm
Telling it like it is, Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:00 pm

Peter, before trying to lead a brigade to "try, try again", how about actually listening to what Atherton's voters have said and doing something about it? You seem to be implying the voters are dumb, and just voted the way they did based on poor cheerleading instead of a fundamental disagreement with the core issues, and this doesn't show much respect for the very smart and hardworking people of Atherton.


Telling it like it is
Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:03 pm
Telling it like it is, Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:03 pm

Also…Peter…you are wrong about the council staying silent. DeGolia wrote various opinion pieces, sent mailers out, and he and Lewis were frantically working the phones. This did not fail because the council members didn't advocate it. It failed because it was a bad idea.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:05 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:05 pm

" You seem to be implying the voters are dumb, "

Read what i posted:

"Is there CITIZEN support for another try?"

I asked a question - I did not post an answer.


Telling it like it is
Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:20 pm
Telling it like it is, Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:20 pm

Peter, the answer you seek is contained in the voting results from today.

In the past, the council took a parcel tax defeat – and none was even close to as resounding as this one is – and went back to the voters with real changes/reforms in hand, with really active listening to the message the voters sent, and asked again.

First, I don't see this council as capable of doing that. The time to have done that was when the town center vote was obviously insufficient to garner support to pay for it.

Second, the past defeats were based on fiscal imprudence. This defeat was based on the town not needing the parcel tax any longer based on increased property tax revenue. It seems like a very definitive decision from the voters that this tax is over. They bought the opposition argument that the town can't simply figure out new ways to continue spending taxpayer money when other revenues are sufficient.

Atherton residents got to where they are in life by smart fiscal management of their resources. I am not at all surprised by this vote.


Peter Carpenter
Registered user
Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:41 pm
Peter Carpenter, Atherton: Lindenwood
Registered user
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:41 pm

"the answer you seek is contained in the voting results from today."

I agree.

Citizens respond to leadership and Mike, Bill and Cary provided NO leadership on Measure f.

If I were Mayor with this result I would feel compelled to resign.


Telling it like it is
Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 8, 2017 at 7:46 am
Telling it like it is, Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 8, 2017 at 7:46 am

Let's just put some of these numbers into perspective now that the vote was 50/50, 783 yes, 768 no.

Atherton has 4,777 registered voters. 1,551 voted in this election, leaving 3,226 who did not. These numbers show this vote did not fail because of lack of cheerleading/getting out the vote.

I say this because even if Lewis – and I fully agree with you that she should show the good grace of resigning today – had been able to get HALF of the 3,226 people who didn't vote to vote, MORE THAN 80% of them would have had to vote yes for Measure F to pass. That's never happened.

Even if Lewis had been able to get every single one of Atherton's voters to vote in this election, assuming she couldn't change the minds of people who already voted NO in this election, AT LEAST 75% of the remaining voters would have had to vote yes for Measure F to pass given this opposition. That's never happened.

Because of these clear numbers, it's important that the council stop WASTING TAXPAYER MONEY (because isn't that the strong message that was sent with this election?) on pursuing this issue any further. Put a fork in it. It's DONE.

The much better use of time and effort would be to internalize the message that was sent here and figure out what budget cuts are going to be made, etc., to honor the voter's command that the Town simply has to treat taxpayer money with a lot more respect.


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