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Atherton Measure "F" Propaganda

Original post made by Concerned Citizen, Atherton: other, on Nov 6, 2017

Various e-mails are being sent out from Atherton council members explaining why a yes vote on Measure "F" is appropriate.

It's important to actually delve into the facts of a few of the main assertions.

1. "It's just for three years. Later, when we don't need it, we won't ask for it." Sorry, this excuse was used last election (it will be abated when no longer needed). Now, when there are large surpluses, the council has found important ways to spend the money. The point is, they will always be able to find ways to spend taxpayer money. This is not a valid reason to vote for Measure "F". It's actually a broken promise.

2. "The Council has used taxpayer money responsibly and will continue to do so." Some facts are 10% increases were made to Atherton police salaries in each of the past two years in an environment in which the U.S. Consumer Price Index (rate of inflation) is under 1%. Did citizens get 10% pay increases in each of the past two years? I doubt it.

Don't fall for the buzz lines. The cold facts show this is a measure that should be defeated. The original rationale for the parcel tax (not enough property taxes) is no longer valid. Home values have increased tremendously. Different standards of spending taxpayer money are now being employed, and it will just get worse.

No on "F"!

Comments (6)

Posted by High
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Nov 6, 2017 at 7:40 pm

10% per year is for sure high.

Posted by Just the Facts
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 7, 2017 at 6:06 am

Actually, no.

The MOU is on the city website here:

Web Link

It shows that the police officers got a 4% and 3.75% pay adjustment in each of the last two years with a 2% take back by paying part of the city’s pension obligation. So, in effect they got 3% in one year and 2.75% in the next. Not 10% in each of the last two years.

The CPI is also online:

Web Link

It was 1.4% in Jan 2017 and 2.5% in Jan 2017.

But damn the actual facts. Let’s just spread rumors and lies to make our case.

Posted by Facts?
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Nov 7, 2017 at 8:06 am

@Just The Facts –

Selective reporting of statistics can be used to buttress almost any argument.

The differential change in compensation for the police officers under the contract you posted is what the original poster estimated. You're focusing on the section that talks about increases to base salary, without looking at the entire compensation package (cost to Atherton, same as total compensation increase to the individual). Factors such as pension contributions, health benefits, salary bumps for various credentials, etc. all come into total compensation. The officers made out like bandits under this contract. Just one reason is while the town stopped making the pension contribution on behalf of the officer (in addition to its own contribution, as if in a private company the company made the employee's 401k contribution itself in addition to the match) for NEW HIRES, and offered salary increases to make up for this loss in total compensation, existing officers were grandfathered in to the existing match plus got the increases.

Unfortunately, that's what happens when council members accept political patronage from unions. The citizens don't get sharp representation, and have to wind up paying a lot more taxes than they should. And before you start the old refrain of this is just competitive wages compared to other communities, remember Adam Smith and the "invisible hand". The Atherton officers aren't accepting jobs in other cities that pay more. To the contrary, they're spending their own money to politically campaign to avoid being outsourced. Doesn't that really say it all about how they feel about the relative value of their own contract?

The town hasn't increased in size since the parcel tax started 40 years ago. The increases to property tax revenue have far outweighed inflation and the parcel tax. The reason Atherton needs to continue to ask for more and more taxes is because its spending increases have outpaced increases in revenues (even though these revenue increases have been very large due to the explosion in home values). That, plain and simple, is what this boils down to. There are other abuses, to be sure (such as the city manager's pay package), but the police department is a big, big portion of the budget.

Atherton needs to learn to live within its means. To quote the proverbs, "if not now, when?".

Posted by Just the Facts
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 7, 2017 at 8:45 am

Percentages in base salary roll through the total compensation. If the increase in base salary goes up 3%, the associated benefits based on that base salary via % also go up commensurately - not 10%.

Yes, officers were provided with a match when they began picking up their own pension obligation - it was a negotiated benefit when it was originally provided and would have represented a pay cut to do otherwise. Nonetheless, the transfer still represented a savings to the city over time.

The parcel tax is NOT an ask for more taxes. It is an ask to retain existing tax revenue. Spending has not significantly increased in the 10 years. You can look at the actual budgets for that data.

Atherton IS living within its means and the parcel tax has been a part of that for the last 40 years (as you so state). It is not increasing.

You can vote either way you want, just vote with facts not rumor or misinformation.

Posted by Concerned Citizen
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 7, 2017 at 10:51 am

"If the increase in base salary goes up 3%, the associated benefits based on that base salary via % also go up commensurately".

Wrong. Many of the benefits scale higher such as pensions, and others such as medical are not a percentage of base salary.

"Nonetheless, the transfer still represented a savings to the city over time."

"Over time"? Over the past two years, 20% more spending on police.

"The parcel tax is NOT an ask for more taxes."

That attitude is the problem. Temporary taxes become regarded as entitlements. That's what has happened with the parcel tax. That's why it has to end.

Posted by Just the Facts
a resident of Atherton: other
on Nov 7, 2017 at 11:12 am

Again, facts.

The city police pension rate went up 0.188% from 16/17 to 17/18 and is projected to go DOWN 0.018% in 18/19. (Source: CalPERS Actuarials)

Health care costs do go up but the agreement stipulates that any rate increase over 3% is shared by the employee and the rates are cafeteria style benefits with a set amount. (Source: Police MOU)

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