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Atherton taxpayer money used to lobby for more taxes?

Original post made by Bill of Rights, Atherton: other, on Mar 10, 2013

Why do the troika of bullies, Elizabeth Lewis, Jerry Carlson, and Cary Wiest, think it is legal or ethical to use Atherton taxpayer money to "educate" Atherton taxpayers about why it's important to renew the parcel tax?

This is political lobbying. Town money cannot be used for this purpose.

Comments (4)

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Posted by Dorothy
a resident of Atherton: West Atherton
on Mar 11, 2013 at 7:03 am

I read that section of the City Manager's report to the Council. I've included it below.

Seems to me he's driving this, not the "troika". Moreover, the City Manager is simply putting the issue before the Council. That is what he's supposed to do. The Council hasn't yet taken any decisions.

The only reference I see to the information campaign is at the end of his report. I do believe the Government can put on a compelling non-partisan information campaign. The Council did so for the library ... and the residents made an informed decision.


3. Parcel Tax Renewal – November 2013

The City Council needs to begin discussions on bringing the parcel tax measure forward for renewal. One of the first considerations for the Council is WHETHER TO ENGAGE AN OUTSIDE CONSULTING FIRM TO ASSIST WITH CAMPAIGN STRATEGIES, SURVEYS, AND MEDIA. It is anticipated that a well-planned campaign, together with a community survey, will assist the Council with its decision-making. The COUNCIL CONSIDERED USE OF A CONSULTANT IN 2009 and interviewed a couple of firms to assist. The primary focus was the PUBLIC INFORMATION SERVICES RELATED TO PUBLIC EDUCATION ON TOWN SERVICES, POLICIES, AND PROGRAMS. These services were in connection to outreach dedicated to the parcel tax renewal. The Council opted not to use a consultant.

However, while the parcel tax is up for renewal in 2014 the Council may wish to consider other revenue measures. These others measures could be considered in lieu of, in addition to, or in mitigation of the parcel tax. A consultant will not only assist the Town in the identification of the right revenue measure(s) to use but also assist with the public outreach and education necessary with any revenue measure.

Initiation and or renewal of a revenue measure is a unique process for every community. Moving it forward depends on our needs, priorities, and ultimately what the voters will support. In general, as the Council is aware, there are two types of revenue measures, Special Purpose Measures and General Purpose Measures. Special Purpose Measures are used to fund specific, clearly defined projects and services to meet community needs. For example, a community may wish to pursue a Special Purpose measure to fund Public Safety, Library Services, or Street Maintenance. General Purpose Measures can be used to fund any scope of projects and services that are part of a community’s General Fund expenditures. Because the money becomes part of the General Fund, these measures provide greater flexibility in the number of issues that can be addressed; and the issues are not required to be categorically linked.

Research and polling can help shed light on the community’s awareness of the Town’s needs, determine what messages are the most effective, and help determine election timing. ONCE POLLING IS COMPLETE, A COMPELLING, NON-PARTISAN PUBLIC INFORMATION CAMPAIGN CAN BE PUT TOGETHER AS A TOOL TO FURTHER EDUCATE THE VOTERS ABOUT THE TOWN’S NEEDS.

THESE AND OTHER OPTIONS CAN BE PRESENTED TO THE COUNCIL FOR CONSIDERATION AND A CONSULTANT CAN ASSIST WITH THEIR DELIVERY. Theresa and I will be putting together some discussion points for the Council’s consideration at the March Council Meeting

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Posted by Bill of Rights
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:24 am

I hope they do decide to go ahead with this so the lawsuits can be filed to invalidate the decision and strike down the parcel tax. Your message is so wrong...the "information campaign" for the library was the ballot measure. No town-funded activities other than the ballot measure (for which pro, con, and "neutral" positions are required to be presented) were conducted on "information campaigns" about the library.

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Posted by memory lane
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:41 am

Uploaded: Thursday, July 16, 2009, 11:21 AM

Atherton puts parcel tax on fall ballot

by Andrea Gemmet
Almanac Staff

Atherton voters will be asked to approve a four-year renewal of the $750 annual parcel tax when they head to the polls on Nov. 3. The Atherton City Council voted unanimously at its July 15 meeting to put the parcel tax on the ballot.

Atherton officials have been casting about for years to find a replacement for the special parcel tax, an annual levy that helps fund town services and capital projects. This spring, the council even commissioned pollsters Godbe Research to canvas residents about replacing the parcel tax with a utility-users tax. However, it looks like the income tax-deductible parcel tax remains Atherton residents' preferred form of municipal taxation.

The current parcel tax measure, approved by voters in February 2005, expires June 30, 2010. For the typical Atherton homeowner, the parcel tax costs $750 annually. Residents of small lots must pay $450 a year, and those with lots larger than 2 acres are charged $960.

The rates would remain the same in the parcel tax renewal measure, which would run from July 2010 to June 2014. The measure requires a 2/3 yes vote in order to pass.

According to the town's ballot language, the parcel tax renewal measure would "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."

At the July 15 meeting, the council also voted unanimously to authorize a search for a consultant to help construct a public education campaign about the parcel tax. The obliquely worded agenda item sought permission to solicit proposals for "public information consulting services related to public education of services, policy and programs provided by the town." Council members had to ask for an explanation.

Assistant City Manager Eileen Wilkerson explained that the consultants would develop a strategy and message to provide the public with information on the effects of the upcoming parcel tax -- in a totally neutral way, of course.

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Posted by Bill of Rights
a resident of Atherton: other
on Mar 11, 2013 at 8:54 am

I have no trouble believing that town employees such as Rodericks, Wilkerson, Hall, or anyone else who has been unfairly benefiting from the gravy train the parcel tax provides, wants it to continue, and will say or do anything to advocate that Atherton continue it, at any cost. That doesn't make it legal. Let's wait for the lawsuit to be filed. It will be.

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