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Atherton may poll residents on parcel tax

Original post made on Mar 26, 2013

With some council members pushing for studying other ways of raising revenue, the Atherton City Council has directed staff to look into hiring a pollster to measure support for renewing the town's parcel tax.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, March 26, 2013, 8:53 AM

Comments (5)

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Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Mar 26, 2013 at 12:47 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

It would be totally irresponsible for the Council to hire a pollster to administer an unstandardized and unvalidated survey solely to look at the parcel tax.

The Town has been offered FREE participation in the National Citizens Survey.

"Developed by ICMA and National Research Center, Inc., The National Citizen Survey™ (The NCS) is a low-cost citizen survey service for local governments. Tested, flexible, affordable, and efficient, The NCS lets you survey citizen opinion for:
- Program Planning
- Budgeting
- Goal Setting
- Performance Measurement.
Staff can use the results of The NCS to improve service delivery. Elected officials can use the results to set spending priorities. The manager can use the results to measure progress and chart future steps.
You select from a set of standard questions to assess citizen opinion about basic services and community life. Additional customized questions let you tailor the survey to your unique needs. A new feature of The NCS' basic service is the Key Driver Analysis, which helps you identify those attributes most likely to increase resident opinion of your local government's performance."

"The NCS is a 5-page survey, based on our templatized tool, mailed to 1,200 randomly selected households. (For a small additional cost it could be mailed to EVERY Atherton household).
- Ability to add custom questions
- A report of results, including benchmark comparisons from NRC’s database of over 500 jurisdictions
- Key driver analysis to determine resident priorities
- Entry to win top honors for Voice of the People Awards™
- Access to Best Practices reported by winners of The Voice of The People Awards™"

The NCS would be a great baseline for the Council and the staff to better understand what all the residents want from their Town government and what are the service areas that are in most need of improvement. And having standardized results would allow performance and satisfaction comparisons with other communities.

What the Council needs are facts and not a a poorly designed, unvalidated poll driven solely by the desire to raise taxes. Hopefully the Council won't go down the staff recommended route and waste money to get unvalidated and non-comparable results which are confined solely to the parcel tax issue.

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Posted by Save the Money
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 27, 2013 at 5:38 am

Do Peter's idea and also use the Athertonians and Survey Monkey to do an on-line survey.

The Parcel Tax has failed to achieve the 2/3rds vote three times: 1999, 2000, and 2004, but always had a majority vote.

The situation is probably the same. 15-20% do not favor the extra tax, 50-60% support the tax for more services; and 20-25% are undecided.

The higher the tax- the less the support. Use the Athertonians to set up questions on ranges.

Would you support a Parcel Tax of $500? for

Would you support a Parcel Tax of $750? for

Would you support a Parcel Tax of $1000? for

Would you prefer no Parcel Tax?

Would you prefer a Real Estate Transfer tax? of ......?

Would you prefer a Utility Tax of .....%?

Like this comment
Posted by Longtime Observer
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 27, 2013 at 8:43 am

Couldn't Atherton save the sixty percent expenditure by outsourcing the Atherton police department to the San Mateo County Sheriff? Look for this study just to whitewash and prop up the need to renegotiate the costly Atherton police contract for more years. The Daily Post notes there is another lawsuit against the Atherton Police today.
Wake up people, why suffer through another costly tax?

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Posted by APD Supporter
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 27, 2013 at 9:32 am

[Portion deleted. Please don't use Town Square to make allegations of misconduct.]

Regarding the survey, it's already been done. It's called the election. Atherton residents overwhelmingly decided that shortsightedly looking at costs of the police department is not in their best interests. It will massively decrease home values if Atherton turns into a community that requires half hour response times instead of five minute response times. 97% or more of residents support the police department whole heartedly. Officers are leaving because compensation is not competitive. That needs to be fixed. The parcel tax has never been adjusted for inflation. It needs to be. The problem is expecting that prices are the same as more than ten years ago.

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Posted by Complaint very interesting
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 27, 2013 at 10:40 am

Very interesting to read Thomas' complaint. She provided the door combination to the police department secure area to AT&T and PG&E employees, and was fired for breaching confidentiality. She admits the department has a confidentiality policy, but argues the code wasn't really confidential since the combination hadn't been changed for awhile, and was not changed after employees left "including some whose employment was terminated for misconduct."

Who at the police department had their employment terminated for misconduct? wow.

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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