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Employee-count tax emerges as committee's top pick for 2020 ballot

Original post made on Dec 18, 2019

As Palo Alto marches toward a November 2020 ballot measure, city leaders are confronting two questions: What will the revenues fund? And what kind of tax should they ask the voters to pass?

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, December 18, 2019, 9:33 AM

Comments (11)

Posted by RT
a resident of Barron Park
on Dec 18, 2019 at 1:13 pm

Political garbage......our city council will never support a specific tax - they just want more money to spend on whatever THEY want. If there was a grade separation ONLY tax - it would probably pass. But our greedy council will add all kinds of vague projects to it so they can spend it how they please.........just wait and see.....

Posted by DTNResident
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 18, 2019 at 3:27 pm

At some point, small businesses will just have to give up. There is already a "business improvement district" tax on downtown businesses of about $100 per employee, and then a pay to park tax on city streets of $720 per employee per year that were built, and are maintained, using gas taxes.

Now add in the $5 per hour boost from the minimum wage for each of 2000 hours per year, The net is that businesses downtown are already paying nearly $11,000 per employee every year more to operate in Palo Alto due to various programs. A small business with 9 employees is thus paying nearly $100,000 per year in various ways. I fail to see why we need to pile another tax on top of these expenses that small businesses are burdened with.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2019 at 5:48 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

What "brilliant" mind came up with this greedy tax-and-spend money grab?

There is no limit to the "good ideas" for politicians if they could only have more and more of our money.

Vote no on this nonsense. In fact, vote out the politicians who support it.

Posted by Nayeli
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 18, 2019 at 5:51 pm

Nayeli is a registered user.

Seriously: This city needs to stop trying to be like Berkeley, San Francisco, Santa Clara or any other cities. Instead, those cities should try to be more like Palo Alto. There is a reason why this is a desirable place to live. Don't change it.

Posted by No New Taxes
a resident of Ohlone School
on Dec 18, 2019 at 6:51 pm

Lets cut the B.S.

The reason for the tax is to pay for the unfunded pensions the City has offered its employees over the past 30 years.

Why else in a city that is rolling in an explosion of property tax revenue could you possibly need more tax money?

Well, its needed to provide the level of services commensurable with the property taxes the residents are receiving.

Honestly telling the residents that we need to pay the tab on the huge pensions to our retired city employees does not sound as sexy as punishing employers.

Posted by Sid
a resident of Downtown North
on Dec 19, 2019 at 1:30 am

The city had a $76 million surplus for its latest fiscal year, and yet they want an additional tax? I’m voting NO and I’ll vote against every incumbent who supports this tax.

Posted by Neighbor
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Dec 19, 2019 at 10:23 pm

Have you seen the fiasco with the business registry? The city couldn't get it right, so they outsourced it to a company that made it so confusing that nobody sent it in. The form was ridiculous, business owners had no idea how to answer the questions because they were so oddly specific, or even trust what the information was going to be used for. The city has no idea what it is trying to tax. I bet that the reason they are settling for a head count tax is because that is the only thing that they can actually figure out how to do since it is the most simple.

Posted by resident
a resident of Monroe Park
on Dec 21, 2019 at 8:12 am

I agree that there should be MORE than enough money given all the property tax revenue. But if not, it is a NO BRAINER regarding how to raise more money. OF COURSE businesses that created the housing shortage, traffic congestion, parking problems should pay for ALL the infrastructure improvements.

The argument that it will limit growth (i.e., office development) is a GOOD thing. We need tech companies to move elsewhere and replace the office space with housing.

IF Council members Kniss, Cormack, Fine and Tanaka didn't owe developers so many favors (given all the money that campaign funding developers give em), everyone would be on the same page. Unfortunately this crowd (along with Judy Kleinberg who is buddies with Liz Kniss) will protect tech company growth and businesses to the detriment of residents all day long.

Worth noting that these same 4 people just appointed a real estate attorney Barton Hechtman (who guessed it...DEVELOPERS to the planning commission). He even said in his interview with Council that traffic is something we will get used to, and we need more housing development (but not mentioning less office development). Just what we need: a third real estate attorney on the planning commission to further grow office space.

Posted by Chuck Bernstein
a resident of Midtown
on Dec 23, 2019 at 5:33 pm

Make no mistake about it: if this tax passes, it will be a tax on our PARENTS!

We are a Montessori child care center and school adjacent to Greer Park (HeadsUp! Child Development Center, Emerson School). Some 30-40 people work at this site. While our tuition is high, so are our labor costs (with the median education for workers being a bachelor's degree). The result is margins that are very thin, so any increase in taxes must be passed on to parents.

How is it fair to have our business pay more than the average law, engineering, and investment banking firms where individual professionals are paid three and four times what ours are paid?

Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Dec 23, 2019 at 6:09 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

The tax should have a provision for resident-serving institution like school mentioned above. Ideally such a provision would be so blatantly gamed as the organizations claiming to be "retail storefronts" like SRI downtown. I'm always tempted to go in an order a pound of multi-client studies or some such.

Posted by
a resident of College Terrace
on Dec 30, 2019 at 2:34 pm

is a registered user.

Almost all the cities on the peninsula have a business tax. Why should Palo Alto be different? Given the cost of trying to solve the traffic and parking problems that the big employers have brought with them, shouldn't the bigger employers pay for that? For starters, the cost of the neighborhood parking permit programs, city shuttles, etc. Commercial properties now account for only 25% of the property tax collected in Palo Alto, and owing to loopholes in the law commercial properties can change ownership in a way that does not trigger a property tax reassessment unlike private homes leading to this number decreasing year over year. San Francisco has a sliding scale so that their employee tax for the the larger commercial organizations is over $1,500 per year per head in employee tax. However, smaller businesses, retail, non-profits, etc. pay much less if any. No reason Palo Alto can't structure an employee tax that takes into account the number of employees, whether the business is neighborhood serving, non-profit etc.

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