An Alternative Solution to a One Percent Sales Tax
We are in the middle of a once-in-a-lifetime medical pandemic disrupting institutions such as schools and the nation’s economy. Now is not the time to impose a twenty year, $2.4 million tax on Orindans. We don’t deny that this tax, or maybe even more, will be needed in the long run, but November 2020 is not the time to put it in place.
1) A $150 parcel tax put on the March 2021 ballot which will start generating about $100,000 a month in revenue to be used wholly for fire prevention. This tax, if put on the ballot by the City would require a 2/3 majority to pass. In the recent survey of residents, 86% made fire prevention their highest priority. All four of the taxes put on the ballot by the City since 2012 have passed with over a 2/3 majority. If the tax is put on the ballot as a citizen initiative (requiring 10% of voters to sign the petition), then only a 50% majority is required.
2) For the next two years the City will have access to $2.2 million a year in other revenue sources (State gas tax, County sales tax, garbage impact fees) for road and storm drain repairs plus $1.2 million in the existing sales tax for anything it wants to spend it on (as this is a general tax) which could include storm drains and even more fire prevention.
3) This will give the City two years to come up with another plan (since a majority rejected Plan A) for the long term maintenance of roads and storm drains (all roads and storm drains) and to assess how the fire prevention effort is going (since it has never done fire prevention before).
4) It will also give the Council time to get its act together regarding its relationship with MOFD. The City Council (circa 1997) formed MOFD (advised the voters to replace the Orinda Fire District with a joint Orinda/Moraga district which the Council had no control over). In retrospect this has not worked out so well. Our locally elected Board Members were supposed to have our best interests at heart and make sure that the services Orinda received represented the taxes Orinda taxpayers paid into MOFD. If this were happening, then there would be no need for special taxes to fund fire prevention. The $18 million in Orinda property taxes going to MOFD is plenty to pay for the operations of Orinda’s three fire stations AND fund a robust fire prevention effort in Orinda. It is the job of the City Council to either get the existing three MOFD Directors representing Orinda to “see the light” or find replacements who will.
That is a plan that can work. The proposed tax, on the other hand, is shortsighted, with not enough for all of Orinda’s essential services but enough to make a real plan impossible.
If you believe that this alternative makes sense, please sign the support letter pledging opposition to the Sales Tax.