Emeryville "Leaking" Millions of Dollars
Emeryville mayor Jac Asher raised more than a few eyebrows at City Hall at the last January Council meeting when she used the normally business friendly and innocuous mayoral State of the City annual address to promote the notion that the City fundamentally change its governing system to capture millions of dollars in business property tax proceeds that now goes uncollected. The existing 'General Law' governing model would be replaced with a more democratic governance system called a 'Charter City', a move that would allow residents more say in how the City operates and allow City Hall to capture business property transfer tax money now lost, a "leaking" of proceeds the mayor says. It's a change we need to make to fund more parks and public infrastructure maintenance such as sidewalks she said in her address to the City. In the wake of the recent demise of funding from Redevelopment Agencies state-wide, it's a change our neighboring municipalities including Oakland and Berkeley have made, bolstering their general fund coffers.
Transfer taxes are collected by cities when businesses change ownership or merge, a method initially made popular after Proposition 13 stripped California cities of crucial property tax revenues, now increasingly so after Redevelopment funds have also gone dry.
Emeryville Now Loses $3 Million Per Year
To become a Charter City requires a majority vote of the residents and in the case of Emeryville, nothing of substance necessarily need to change at City Hall with the exception of capturing these heretofore unpaid business transfer taxes.
The mayor noted that with the current General Law provisions in place, Emeryville only yielded $157,000 in 2009 to 2014 on business transfers. That's $.55 for every 1000 dollars of real estate value compared to our charter city neighbors Oakland and Berkeley who yielded $15.00 per 1000 dollars of value. It has meant a loss of an average of $3 million per year for Emeryville over that time.
Emeryville stands alone in it's retention of the General Law status in the region. Cities throughout the region have changed over to Charter City status to net these business transfer monies, using them to fund amenities for their residents. Here's a breakdown of some local cities and their capture of transfer taxes:
- Alameda $12.00 per thousand on full value
- Albany $11.50
- Berkeley $15.00
- Emeryville $0.55
- Hayward $4.50
- Oakland $15.00
- Piedmont $13.00
- San Leandro $6.00
Mayor Asher called the Charter City question a "way forward" after the loss of the Redevelopment Agency and all the fiscal woes visited upon Emeryville without that formally copious revenue stream.
Video courtesy of the Emeryville Property Owners Association: