Piedmont’s Real Property Transfer Tax is the tax paid to the City when properties are sold. The circles above are actual revenues, the solid line an estimate of annual revenue until 2030 and the dotted lines the probable range of what these revenues may be – no estimate is perfect. The transfer tax is steadily rising due to Piedmont’s increasing property values. There are occasional hiccups – the 2008 Great Recession and the 2021 COVID “bubble” for example. Other than these two events, the transfer tax has risen consistently over the past 20 years.
The City conservatively estimated that annual transfer tax revenue over this period to be $2.8 and $3.4 annually but actual revenue has exceeded that estimate, substantially in some years. These conservative estimates have resulted in annual surpluses that have city reserve funds at all-time highs, a good thing. However, recent revenue projections by the Budget Advisory and Financial Planning Committee (BAFPC) BAFPC 2023 report assume this flat $3.4 million growth for the next ten years and uses this underestimate to propose increases to the transfer tax and municipal services parcel tax. The BAFPC should update its projections by using the year-to-year rate that can be determined from the 20-year transfer tax growth.
Measure F proponents state that there will be public safety cuts if F fails in March 2024. When? One new dispatcher position is already funded through 2025 and the current parcel tax does not expire until June 2025. So additional public safety services will be in place through 2025. Were F to fail in March, Council will have the option to put a revised measure on the November 2024 ballot or fund an additional dispatcher from the General Fund surplus, currently at 22%.
Measure F is about renewing the municipal services parcel tax and increasing it by 35%. The measure also extends voter approval for the tax from a 4 to 12-year period. Voters can vote to raise the tax now, defeat it now and direct Council to revise its proposal for the November 2024 ballot, or use other surplus funds. None of these options entail service cuts.