Now is an excellent time to start a discussion on the forthcoming Atherton Parcel Tax vote which will occur in November. Hopefully both proponents and opponents will contribute to this discourse and hopefully the discourse will remain civil.
For my part there are fundamental questions about the parcel tax itself which the council failed to address that are quite troubling. The parcel tax has become an addiction for Atherton and far too little thought has been given to simply living within the very generous revenue stream of property taxes created the by the existing tax base plus the very expensive new construction and very expensive sales of existing homes.
The parcel tax is constantly presented as a vote on the Atherton Police Department - the staff report states "The parcel tax is a significant portion of the Town’s total revenue, making possible the funding of the police department at its current levels as well as certain capital improvements."
This ignores the fundamental principles of good management and budgeting that require looking at every expenditure based on its merits. It also assumes that the town's primary source of revenue, property taxes, somehow does not and should not pay for police services.
If police services are really so important then they should be paid for entirely by property taxes and everything that is left unfunded should be funded or not based on the parcel tax vote.
A parcel tax is a vote of confidence in the town council and its ability to perform collectively in the best interests of the town rather than the best interests of individual council members. There is certainly lots of evidence to suggest that this council has not and cannot work in a collaborative manner.
These are some of my current thoughts and I encourage others, both proponents and opponents, to add theirs.