Palo Alto Weekly

Spectrum - October 26, 2012

Editorial: Yes on Measures A & B

Yes on Measure A

Santa Clara County has been whipsawed by the economic downturn and the state's perennial budget crises. When funding runs short for state-supported safety-net programs that serve low-income residents, legislators pass the problem down to county governments, who at the same time are overburdened by more residents who need services just to survive. It is a vicious cycle and while the county has shed almost 1,800 employees and slashed its budget by more than $2 billion, visits to the Valley Medical Center in San Jose rose more than 200,000 in the last 10 years, and people looking for housing assistance tripled.

The county is doing all it can to meet demand, but it has run out of options. We agree with supporters of Measure A who say that the answer is for voters to approve a one-eighth-cent sales-tax increase that would last for 10 years and provide $50 million a year to help the county come closer to breaking even. The increase would bring the county's sales-tax levy to 8.5 percent, of which 7.25 percent goes to the state.

If passed, the tax would give the county a way to replace some of the dollars lost to cuts by the state and federal governments for health and public-safety programs. One in four county residents use services offered by the Valley Medical Center, including care in the burn and trauma centers. And thousands of low-income children in the Healthy Kids Program will continue to be covered by health insurance if the measure passes.

All county residents need to pitch in and help keep these essential services afloat. We urge a Yes vote on Measure A.

Yes on Measure B

In most years voters wouldn't blink at approving a request to simply continue a parcel tax that costs homeowners now just over $50 a year. But getting the required two-thirds voter support for Measure B that will benefit the Santa Clara Valley Water District could be a challenge, in part due to the district board's record of overpaying directors and senior staff. With a new CEO, reforms are underway and a board majority is pushing for more changes.

The proposed uses for Measure B funds show good judgment, and when the designated projects are completed will help make sure our water supply and the health of our creeks are in good shape. And various flood-control projects, including improvements along San Francisquito Creek around the Chaucer Street bridge in Palo Alto, would be in line for funding as well.

By assuring a steady source of parcel-tax income beyond 2016, the district will continue eligibility for federal dollars that could be lost if a vote was delayed until 2014. The original measure was passed in 2000. One of the major projects on the urgent to-do list is seismic work on the Anderson Dam, part of the county's largest reservoir. It is paramount that this work be completed soon, as it is vulnerable to damage from an earthquake in the region.

Continuation of this parcel tax would raise more than $500 million over 15 years, although it will not increase the amount of annual taxes paid by residents. We believe the district has made a good case for continuing this tax and urge voters to approve Measure B.

Other recommendations:

Palo Alto School Board

(See editorial published Oct. 12)

Melissa Baten Caswell (i)

Ken Dauber

Heidi Emberling

Palo Alto City Council

(See editorial published Oct. 5)

Marc Berman

Pat Burt (i)

Liz Kniss

Greg Schmid (i)

Foothill-DeAnza College Board

Joan Barram (i)

Betsy Bechtel (i)

Laura Casas Frier (i)

County Board of Education

Grace Mah (i)

State Assembly

Rich Gordon (D) (i)

State Senate

Jerry Hill (D)

U. S. Congress

Anna Eshoo (D)

Palo Alto Measure C (marijuana dispensaries)

No (See editorial published Sept. 14)

State Propositions

(See editorial published Oct. 19)

30 (Sales & income tax increase) Yes

31 (Political reform package) Yes

32 (Bans political payroll deductions) No

33 (Auto insurance) No

34 (Ends death penalty) Yes

35 (Penalties for human trafficking) Yes

36 (Revises Three Strikes law) Yes

37 (Food labeling) No

38 (School tax measure) Yes

39 (Fix tax loophole) Yes

40 (Redistricting) Yes

(i) = incumbent

Comments

Posted by Brian Schmidt, a resident of Mountain View
on Oct 26, 2012 at 9:41 am

As the person elected by Palo Alto voters and other north County voters to represent our community at the Water District, I couldn't agree more with the Editorial Board's decision to support Measure B for Safe Clean Water.

The measure doesn't change the tax structure, it just extends it after it would have expired in 2016. It's especially helpful to Palo Alto and neighboring communities. The original funding measure in 2000 provided less than $10 million to start work on San Francisquito Creek flood control after the 1998 floods. The new Measure B has $35 million for that project, $24 million for protecting against tidal flooding and sea level rise impacts along the South Bayshore, and other money for flood control, water conservation, and environmental restoration.

There are issues in government, there always are. I'm happy to work with our community to deal with them while recognizing that safe water, flood protection, and environmental restoration are core governmental jobs. I hope everyone will join me in supporting Santa Clara County's Measure B.


Posted by JLC, a resident of University South
on Oct 26, 2012 at 10:33 am

Sales taxes are inherently regressive - I'll always vote against them unless most basic consumer goods are excluded.


Posted by Crescent Park Dad, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2012 at 10:44 am

If you define groceries as the basic consumer good, then there is no problem. Groceries are not subject to sales tax - ever.

Alcohol, gas, etc. Yes.

Fine with me.


Posted by Betsy M, a resident of another community
on Oct 26, 2012 at 11:01 am

I think you've got the first few proposition numbers wrong here. It's
30 (Sales & income tax increase) -- Yes
31 (Political reform package) -- Yes
32 (Bans political payroll deductions) -- No

and you're missing 33 (Auto insurance scheme), which your editorial recommends voting no on.

I agree with your recommendations, by the way.


Posted by JLC, a resident of University South
on Oct 26, 2012 at 11:20 am

@CPD: I agree that necessities to life are exempted from sales taxes. And, alcohol and fuel are subject to specific excise taxes. But there are a lot of items that I think shouldn't be burdened - soap and detergent, light bulbs, etc.


Posted by spend locally, a resident of Crescent Park
on Oct 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

It's been how many years since the last flood and nothing has been done to address the actual problems. So the answer is to keep paying until the Chaucer Street bridge in Palo Alto might sometime in the future, maybe get funding from this.
In fact, it's never been on the list and they've even been proposing a local tax to cover fixing the bridge.
This is just another example of how they are trying to spread the net wide to persuade people to pass the measure even though they know that it will never cover the proposed projects and will be spent on what they want, not what they said.
If they can't be truthful, it's a standard "NO" response.


Posted by J99, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2012 at 12:16 pm

We have paid a parcel tax for the flood control for 12 years now and even built and rebuilt the section by El Camino for San Francisquito creek when it was found that the original enineering was done wrong. Measure B is just an extension of an expiring tax because when government gets money, the organizations want tostay in place and grow forever. No on B. Reform pensions and there will be tens and tens of millions of dollars available to finish any work not completed yet.
No on Measure A. If we need money deport the illegal aliens and stop providing them medical, education, food stamps, lower cost housing, and save on incarceration costs. In CA 27% of the prison population are illegal aliens. No more taxes on working people, GOVERNMENT NEEDS THE REFORM.


Posted by J99, a resident of Barron Park
on Oct 26, 2012 at 12:19 pm

For the working Palo Alto or Santa Clara county Resident, just vote against anything the Palo Alto Editorial supports. They just reflect the endless increased government and entitlement welfare state of Jerry Brown and the current administration. That is the easiest way to know how to vote.


Posted by Marie, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 26, 2012 at 12:26 pm

Marie is a registered user.

Why I'm voting No on B (and I almost always vote yes on funding measures)

Measure B includes automatic increases to the parcel tax every year. I should be so lucky as to have automatic increases of 3% to my social security check. Since the inception of this parcel tax, the water district has raised the rate 3% every year, which is greater than almost every COLA or inflation index for almost every year.

Social Security is tied to a cost of living index that meant there were no increases for two years (personally, I think that formula should be changed to use a more conservative index that would REDUCE future increases in social security to help balance the budget). However, this measure goes up 3% no matter what is happening to the water district. They don't have to justify any of their spending. This uncontrolled funding, i believe, is partly the reason for the irresponsible spending by the water district mentioned by the Palo Alto Weekly above.

Luckily, we have four more years to craft a measure that will be more fiscally responsible. I look forward to voting yes on a more reasonable measure with more oversight on their spending. If there are deadlines prior to 2016 that require increased funding, I recommend the water board gets its act together and put a more reasonable tax proposal on the 2014 ballot. They also might want to consider a less regressive tax levy than a parcel tax.


Posted by Thanks, J99, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Oct 26, 2012 at 2:20 pm

Well said J99. For most of the list, just do the opposite.


Posted by Nora Charles, a resident of Stanford
on Oct 26, 2012 at 3:53 pm

No on Measures A & B, prop 30, and prop 38. We middle class are taxed far too much. Ever notice the more we are taxed, the worse things get? Enough.


Posted by John, a resident of Fairmeadow
on Oct 26, 2012 at 6:09 pm

No on any taxes. Enough already.

Yes on 32.
the unions take money out of members paychecks and using it in Sacramento, Prob go down because of all the advertising.

Why endorse all the incumbents? Same mess we're in will continue.


Posted by Melissa, a resident of College Terrace
on Oct 27, 2012 at 2:27 pm

No on A. The money will go into the county's general fund and there's no guarantee it will be used on the hospital or other human services. Most likely the funds will be used to pay higher salaries and pensions.

No on B. The district has a long history of extravagant spending and overspending on projects. It's board has been rife with conflicts of interest.

Both taxes will send money to San Jose and very little will come back here.

No surprise the Weekly is endorsing them. They endorse every tax increase.


Posted by lazlo, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Oct 27, 2012 at 3:50 pm

Measure A only insures that the incompetence of County Supervisors deficit spending continues. Building million dollar overpasses on 101 when underpasses and overpasses already exist, giving taxpayer money to the 49ers so they can install tv monitors on seats in a football stadium, etc...It is no wonder that the county now proudly claims a skyrocketing $216 million deficit. The tax money won't provide any new services, only add funds to pay a portion of the deficit down and continue the incompetent spending spree.
Measure B supports the unsustainable spending of the Santa Clara Valley Water District also known as the "Golden Spigot" known best for spending $2 million to build a useless gazebo on a vacant lot along the Guadelupe, providing numerous (over 100) managers with six figure salaries, and spending money on salaries instead of seismically upgrading dams that store our water supply (did you know that none of our reservoirs can be filled to capacity due to seismic restraints and the SCVWD is doing nothing about it?),and the list continues on and on. This parcel tax rises 3% annually over 16 years and will cost taxpayers more than $100 per parcel. Recently, the SCVWD Board of Supervisors asked for lifetime medical/health care benefits and were quietly told to delay their vote until after the election. Surprised to hear that the Palo Alto print media supports such blatant misuse of taxpayer funds that only add to the "ticking time bomb" and it's support of "unsustainable" and "skyrocketing" deficit spending.


Posted by Laura, a resident of Greater Miranda
on Oct 27, 2012 at 10:19 pm

No on Measure B.

The part time board of directors for the Santa Clara Water District want to continue a parcel tax. They list all sorts of things that sound good on paper, but in reality, there are no requirements for how the assessed dollars will be spent. One thing the PART-TIME Water District Board Members really do want, are life time health benefits, and a pension. Sure who wouldn't? The difference is, they can, and tried to vote themselves these benefits that would cost the tax payers of Santa Clara County millions of dollars of their, and future board members lifetimes. This is a temporary PART-TIME job people, and certainly these sort of benefits are not appropriate here.

Vote NO on Measure B, the Board clearly has their personal interests at heart, at YOUR wallets expense. This is a fraud.

Don't believe me? read more about it here:

Web Link


Posted by Jessica, a resident of Midtown
on Oct 31, 2012 at 9:14 am

I'm voting NO on A and B. I urge everyone to do the same. The salaries of local government employees are ridiculously high. I won't approve another tax increase until I see these salaries return to reasonable levels. (I thank the Daily Post for printing the salaries of these employees!!!)


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