At the two most recent league of Women Voters forums, Liz Kniss has discussed how she would like to lead a local effort to reform prop 13 to allow higher residential property taxes since "residents should be willing to pay more for the valuable services they are receiving." She said that it is simply "not fair that new buyers pay $20,000 to $30,000 a year in property taxes and and previous home owners are paying significantly less. I am sure there are many in this room that would be willing to pay more," she said.
Many in my South Palo Alto neighborhood stretched to purchase a home here, but would be faced with a real economic challenge if the endless thirst of the bureaucracy were not held in check. Please note that there may be room for reform in the way commercial buildings are taxes under Prop 13, however the residential protections are essential to keep in place.
Already, the economic diversity of our town is under pressure by housing prices and related rents, and any additional burden will really tip the balance. I could imagine many who would be faced with a property tax bill greater than their mortgage payment. Many are inspired to live in our town because the excellent schools, and sacrifice for the betterment of the future generations. The perception that only wealthy people live in Palo Alto is simply not true. Many have just made education for children as priority, and manage to just balance the economics.
Liz's position reflects the view of an entitled bureaucrat that has completely lost touch with the heart of the community. Mind you, when additional funds are needed, Palo Alto residents have been very generous in enthusiastically approving bond measures for schools and libraries. Even though flat parcel taxes do not correspond with the ability to pay. In these leaner economic times, many residents understand about doing with less, however they have not seen the corresponding sacrifice on the part of our City. Most understand that funding may end for some services, or we may have to look to philanthropic sources for help in maintaining a balance.
While we all appreciate and value the great services provided by the City, the residents that I hear from are screaming "Live within your means!" While there are those that feel all tax increases are bad, most residents are reasonable when presented with legitimate funding requests, however everyone I speak with expects the City Government to meet it at least half way and demonstrate a little sacrifice. There will be a few tantrums, but the calm delivered by a future of sustainable balance with be so well worth a few screams.
The above illustrates why the vote for Palo Alto leadership this time will have a critical impact on our future. To add further disregard for the taxpayers, when asked about how she will cooperate to keep the infrastructure current, Liz said that we would just borrow through a bond measure. You don't have to be a CPA like me to know that debt requires payments out of future budgets, which will consume funds that should be spend on keeping our infrastructure current. This "kicking the can down the road" and handing off the problems created by our historical lack of discipline, is a downward spiral that clearly aims our city for a future of painful struggles. I advocate enduring a little pain now and being able to build a future of innovation and creativity.
That is why I your vote for Gray matters.
Tim Gray (Candidate for Palo Alto City Council) 650 493-3000