Orinda Needs - July 2020
On July 21, 2020, Paul Rankin, the City's Finance Director, presented a "needs" report to the City Council. This is the only document so far presented to the community that gives some hint of how Measure R's $60 million of revenue collected over 20 years will be spent. This document is reproduced below.
As you can see, out of an estimated $2.4 million a year initially collected from the sales tax (twice the $1.2 million in the budget coming from the existing half cent sales tax which has been increasing with inflation), this report claims that only $500,000 to $750,000 is needed for fire prevention efforts and that is only needed for 3-4 years. After that, the report states, a reduced amount will be required.
There is no indication of where these numbers came from (no study cited) nor was this information included in the minutes of the July 21 Council meeting where this report was presented.
Takeaway: At the same Council meeting (July 21, 2020) where the City Council was advised the City should spend $500,000 to $750,000 on fire prevention (with no reference given nor sought by the Council of where those numbers came from), the Council budgeted only $50,000 citing the inability to spend more despite the fact the City's existing sales tax is generating $1.2 million a year in revenue and $3.5 million from that tax is unspent, in reserve. However, the needs report does explain why the City needs to double the sales tax to $2.4 million for 20 years; to fund the City's road and storm drain maintenance program (not really for fire prevention). Why it needs to double the tax this year, in the middle of the worst pandemic in a century, when the existing tax runs to March of 2023, remains unexplained.
Further note: The needs reports is titled "Long Term Needs / Fiscal Challenges to Providing ESSENTIAL SERVICES". Major among these "essential" services are road and storm drain maintenance. However, these services are limited to the 94 miles of roads already deemed "public" and not the 30 miles, home to 20% of Orinda, yet to be so-deemed. Why is a service "essential" for 80% of Orinda and not all of Orinda?