Taxes

Taxes
Why are we featuring taxes? 
All taxes are not the same. School and city taxes address local needs in a focused, accountable manner. Management of bond proceeds is generally commendable.
Regional bonds and sales taxes, on the other hand, have different characteristics and histories of success and failures. Transportation agencies often over-promise on costs, timelines and service. Building transportation infrastructure is not the same as building a classroom. Management of over-lapping transportation agencies becomes a tug-a-war with unions, contractors, riders and bikers.

We are skeptical about current Caltrain, BART and VTA promises to deliver ridership as a meaningful solution to current congestion. We are very skeptical about ability of Caltrain to serve riders being generated by transport-oriented development underway along the rail corridor. And we look forward to pollsters’ opinions about Federal tax reform impact on California bond measures.

From the Horse’s Mouth

Four members of VTA’s 18 member Board of Directors are collaborating with more than a dozen other community groups to seek out ways to improve VTA’s financial stability. The agency is facing a $20 million structural deficit in FY18 and $26 million in FY19.
Depending upon “committee” work, “VTA will have a better understanding of what steps it may need to stabilize finances and provide the critical transit service, congestion management and construction of transportation projects.”
VTA Newsletter

Ed. Comment: VTA’s deficits and service levels are no surprises. VTA’s management by committee probably won’t address their trifecta of rising expectations, withering finances and hyper-politics. Mass transit ridership is falling….BART, Caltrain, Los Angeles and San Diego… just like NFL viewers.  We challenge 30+ VTA leaders to break away from tradition. More group-grope problem solving is recipe for VTA fumbling the ball again.

City Weighs Three Taxes

Marijuana shops, hotel stays, per-employee taxes may go on fall ballot in Mt. View. On Jan. 23 City Council members approved research and polling to determine which taxes would have the best odds of winning. City officials emphasized that the three proposed taxes won’t affect the pocketbooks of most Mountain View residents. These ideas include a surcharge on future marijuana sales in the city, a new per-employee fee aimed at the city’s largest companies and an increase on the local hotel tax that would help capture short-term rentals like Airbnb.
Mountain View Voice

Blazing Saddles
Palo Alto is blazing a trail to replace the automobile and ”to reduce congestion and pay for needed transportation projects, Palo Alto is seeking teeth for its city’s traffic-management program…. the Council is preparing to charge developers a one-time fee of $8,093 for every net new trip that their building would produce during the evening rush hour.”
Ed. Comment: We defer to Woodside for horses and saddles. For years Palo Alto has turned itself upside down to promote biking….but now it is time to explore other concepts. Neither bikes or horses can move sufficient number of commuters within Palo Alto.
Replacement of the auto with new modes of commuting is serious stuff.  This is a bold step forward to reducing Palo Alto’s awful traffic. Hurdles are ahead for this effort… what will City Council do if opposition arises? Such fees are essential to lift the city out of trafficgeddon. It will take 2-3 years for this concept to prove itself in this fee conscious small city. Onward…with haste.

Spinning for $37, $50, $74 or $100 Million

Should the Portola Valley School District put a $37 million bond measure on the ballot in November? How about a $50 million measure? Or two bond measures at a time adding up to $74 million, or $100 million?
AlmanacNews

Ed. Comment: Stay tuned to this continuing saga. The school board is hard at work.

 

Weighing in at Only $70 million
The board of the Las Lomitas Elementary School District will decide whether to ask voters to approve a $70 million bond measure. If the board votes to go forward with a bond measure, it will appear on the June 5 ballot.
AlmanacNews

Ed. Comment: We support education and hope voters keep their minds and pocket books open.

 

Mega-Buck Weigh-In

Mountain View-Los Altos High School Districtboard unanimously agreed to place a $295 million bond measure on the June ballot, which would improve both high school campuses and prepare for major enrollment growth…over about 500 students in next few years.
Mountain View Voice

Ed Comment: We see a school growth pattern… especially in the one-company towns.

 

The State of the Union is Crumbling
San Jose Mercury Editorial: The state of the union is crumbling. The need to invest in infrastructure is one of the few issues on which even Trump and Gov. Jerry Brown agree.

Less than a month after Trump took office, the governor submitted a $100 billion wish list of infrastructure projects for Trump to consider that would work in conjunction with state’s 10-year transportation investment plan.
SanJoseMercuryNews

Ed Comment: We agree with the Merc. “California’s share of the $200 billion [entire Federal infrastructure budget for all states] wouldn’t begin to cover the state’s needs, even in the unlikely event that the president offers up a generous proportion of funding to a state he routinely trashes.”

And we won’t speculate how California voters will evaluate the tidal wave of transportation fees and bond measures….especially when state and local taxes may not be deductible. It is time to stop talking about taxing voters. It is also time to hold the business community accountable for the lack of infrastructure to support their success.

Stem the Tide!
Foster City residents are set to decide June 5 if they want to pay $90 million to improve the city’s existing levee system that no longer meets FEMA standards and amid concerns about sea level rise.
SanMateoDailyJournal
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