Budget committee to recommend that city extend, increase municipal services special tax

Sam Richards

The Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee meeting in October 2019.

(Editor’s Note: This article has been updated to correct an earlier report that misstated two different funds, which resulted in wrong info about how much money the parcel tax raises.)

The city should find ways to guarantee more future funding for maintaining its buildings, parks, and other facilities, the budget committee will recommend to the City Council next Monday night.

Chief among recommendations for how to do that is extending the voter-approved term of the city’s municipal services special tax from four to eight years, to allow for planning ahead more effectively, said Bill Hosler, chairman of the city’s Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee.  

“We’ll recommend to at least keep the tax where it is, if not increase it,” Hosler said. “Our key concern is whether the city is setting aside enough money to maintain our facilities over time. We’re concerned there isn’t enough funding, even with the (existing) parcel tax.”

A draft of the committee’s report — which Tuesday night was pored over for two hours to make final adjustments and copy edits — also mentions the four-year term of the tax, which was first approved by Piedmont voters in 1982. “The current four-year term for the parcel tax may be insufficient,” the report said as it called for an eight-year term to provide for longer windows of predictable funding for planning purposes.

That existing parcel tax, the municipal services special tax, is assessed based on individual lot size. For homeowners, that annual tax ranges from $535 for a home up to 4,999 square feet to $903 for homes of more than 20,000 square feet. That tax is expected in 2019-2020 to bring in approximately $2,354,000.

The city now allocated about $550,000 a year to its facilities maintenance fund. The committee’s draft report said that figure should be brought up to $750,000 annually “and maintained at that level.”

The report approved unanimously Tuesday night by the committee doesn’t contain any recommendations for specific increases. Assuming the City Council chooses to put that tax on the ballot again, it would appear on the March 2020 (primaries) ballot, Hosler said.

Other opportunities to increase revenue to maintain facilities are limited, committee members said Tuesday. An increase in the city’s real property transfer tax — a one-time tax when a property changes ownership, based on square footage — will also be recommended for the City Council to consider. Piedmont’s transfer tax is lower than in many other area cities.

The final report to the City Council is scheduled to be posted by late Thursday afternoon, as part of the posting of council’s Monday night meeting agenda. That meeting begins at 7:30 p.m. in City Hall, 120 Vista Ave.

All photos by Sam Richards | Reach Sam Richards at sam.richards4344@gmail.com  

One thought on “Budget committee to recommend that city extend, increase municipal services special tax

  1. The City annually projects transfer tax revenues of $2.8M yet actual revenue is closer to $3.5. 21018-2109 transfer tax revenue was $3.6M, raising well more than than the $250,000 the BAFPC claims is needed for facilities. And recall that the rational for raising the municipal parcel tax several years ago was for facilities maintenance – that increase raised more than $500,000 in new revenue. Death by a thousand increases.

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