November election will dictate Emeryville's future
By Nancy Bickel and Barb Singleton
Oakland Tribune My Word
POSTED: 10/20/2014 11:58:46 AM PDT
Emeryville voters face an important choice Nov. 4. Will they vote to increase their city's taxing authority and raise taxes so that the city can maintain and improve its services? The future of Emeryville as a growing and thriving small city is at stake.
In 2011, during the economic downturn, Gov. Jerry Brown and the state Legislature dissolved all the redevelopment agencies in California. Emeryville lost $30 million, half of its annual budget. Because of Prop. 13 and related laws, Emeryville doesn't have many options to replace the lost income.
The city's proposal is to change Emeryville from a "general law" city into a "charter city" for the limited purpose of getting the authority to create a property transfer tax. This is Measure U on the November ballot. In addition, the city proposes Measure V, which would create the local property transfer tax itself. The tax rate would be $12 for each $1,000 of sale value.
Right now, Emeryville is a general law city and follows the laws of the state of California. Real property transfer tax rates for general law cities are set by the county and limited by state general law to no more than $1.10 per $1,000 of the sale price. Emeryville receives half -- or 55 cents. The other half goes to the county.
Income from the new property transfer tax would begin to replace the funding lost when the state dissolved all redevelopment programs. Since the income will depend on the number and value of property sales in future years, the income cannot be predicted accurately.
But here's an example. In 2013, Emeryville collected $130,342 in property transfer tax revenue. If Emeryville had been a charter city with a local transfer tax rate of $12 per $1,000, the city would have received $2.843 million. Eighty-five percent of that income would have come from sales of commercial property. The proposed Emeryville rate is lower than the $15 per $1,000 property transfer tax rate in the neighboring charter cities, Berkeley and Oakland.
The tax would be spent in Emeryville, where residents' homes and buildings are located, and would greatly benefit residents and property owners. It would help keep essential city services like police, fire and emergency services running well; keep parks, sewers and storm drains in good shape; develop and maintain open space; provide programs for younger children, youth and seniors, and more.
Measures U and V would maintain and enhance the value of all the individual homes and commercial properties bought and sold in the city. An organization called Citizens to Preserve Emeryville, No on Measures U and V, supported by realtors with a Sacramento address, and which has received $60,000 from the National Association of Realtors, is campaigning against U and V. We assume that the national organization just doesn't like taxes on real property and doesn't want them to go up -- anywhere.
Emeryville residents should use their own judgment about what's good for their own city. The League of Women Voters thinks Measures U and V are worth the cost -- to current and future property owners and to all Emeryville residents -- because they will keep Emeryville a vital and healthy city.
For more information, visit www.lwvbae.org. Just look for Measure U and Measure V. Read the measures at www.SmartVoter.org.
We urge you to vote Nov. 4 and to vote yes on Emeryville's ballot Measures U and V.
Nancy Bickel is President and Barb Singleton is Voter Services Team Representative in Emeryville of League of Women Voters Berkeley, Albany, Emeryville.
Monday, October 20, 2014
Guest Commentary: Measures U&V Vital for Emeryville
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