How the loss of $1.86 million in annual parcel tax revenue will affect the capital improvement and police department programs the Atherton tax paid for will be the focus of a Wednesday, Dec. 6, City Council study session.
Revenues from the tax, which the town has had in place since 1978, could only be spent on police, road and drainage projects. In recent years, the town has allocated 80 percent of parcel tax revenue to street and drainage capital improvement projects and 20 percent to pay for two police officers (a school resource officer and a traffic officer).
The parcel tax was $750 a year for the average homeowner. With a renewal of the tax losing at the polls in November, the tax will end June 30, 2018, unless the council chooses to put it back on the ballot and two-thirds of voters approve it.
Losing the parcel tax means the town will have to reduce its five-year capital improvements budget by $5.9 million, a staff report says.
The report recommends these spending reductions over five years:
● Street maintenance reduced by $2.25 million to $1 million.
● Drainage improvements reduced by $2.1 million to $1.3 million.
● Bike and pedestrian improvements reduced by $1 million to $300,000.
● A study of ways to make El Camino more useable reduced by $200,000 to $25,000;
● Bridge maintenance program reduced by $75,000 to $100,000
Two projects are recommended for elimination: studying quad gates at the Watkins railroad crossing (which was $100,000) and accessibility improvements (which was $150,000).
The town staff report says the police department recommends finding other funding for the two officers currently paid for by parcel tax revenues "to maintain the high level of police services, expected customer service, low response times, mitigate overtime, and continue a school presence." If funding is not available, the recommendation is to not fill a current police officer vacancy.
If additional savings are needed, the report recommends eliminating the school resource officer unless the position can be funded by local schools.
The report also recommends the town look at replacing some of the lost revenues by increasing the town's business license tax, which would require voter approval. The report says, depending on how the new tax is structured, it could bring in between $150,000 to $800,000 more annually than the current business license tax.
The town has limited options for funding projects that had been funded by the parcel tax over the next three years because until the new civic center is completed, any general fund revenues not used for operating expenses have been allocated to pay for the construction project.
The meeting starts at 4 p.m. in the town's council chambers at 91 Ashfield Road.
See the agenda on the town's website.