One of the vital revenue sources for the Town is its Special Parcel Tax. The Special Parcel Tax has been around since the late ‘70’s. It was approved again by a two-thirds vote of residents in November 2013 for another 4 years (Measure S). The tax must be submitted to the voters for renewal every four years. Measure S expires in Fiscal Year 2017/18 and the Council will decide whether to place it on the November 2017 ballot in July 2017. The average amount paid per property is approximately $750 per year (about $63 a month). The Parcel Tax raises $1,860,000 per year.
The basic property tax is the other major revenue source for the Town. For Fiscal Year 2015/16, the total assessed valuation for the Town was $8,791,201,962. Basic property tax on that assessed valuation is 1% or $87,912,020. This is the total amount of property taxes paid by our residents. This is divided across the 2,620 distinct properties in Town and results in an average of $33,554 per year in property taxes by property owner (about $2,796 per month). It will vary by property based on the assessed valuation of that particular property. Of that total amount, $87,912,020, in basic property taxes, the Town receives $0.0857 per $1 or approximately $7,534,060. This is approximately $2,875 per year per property or about $240 per month.
For comparative purposes, the Town’s total annual operating budget, not including the cost to maintain capital infrastructure - streets, roads, drainage, and the Park is approximately $11,860,000.
The Parcel Tax provides funding to maintain police services and fund street and infrastructure maintenance projects, drainage projects, and other road/drainage related capital infrastructure projects. The Parcel Tax generates approximately $1.86 million annually and is currently split 20% to police services and 80% to capital projects. Year over year, the Town saves and spends funds raised from the Parcel Tax. Earlier this year, I prepared a map of the Town’s Capital Projects for Fiscal Year 2016/17. Click here or on the map to download an interactive PDF.
The Map depicts about 18 different capital projects around Town providing their Capital Project ID number, location, and cost for Fiscal Year 2016/17. Excluding the Civic Center Project (New Town Center and Library), in Fiscal Year 2016/17 the Town has allocated nearly $6.2 million in capital project funds for projects around Town. You are going to see a lot of “shovels in the ground” in Fiscal Year 2016/17 - but there is still another nearly $40 million in identified projects on the table in the various Master Plans approved by the City Council over the last couple of years.
The Fiscal Year 2016/17 projects range from Drainage Projects such as the significant Marsh Road Channel Repair to Street and Transportation Projects such as the newly installed HAWK Pedestrian Beacon on El Camino Real. Many of these projects are funded with revenues raised by the Special Property Tax. Below are a few of those projects in Fiscal Year 2016/17.
Series Street Light Replacement – Project #56058 - $753,000
Of the approximately 248 Town-owned street lights – about 40 are powered by “high voltage series circuits” – these are at the end of their useful life. Outages on these circuits are extremely difficult to troubleshoot and repair. This project reviews these street lights to identify those powered by these series circuits, design new circuitry, and replace them. The total project cost is $753,000. Of that amount, $633,000 comes from the Parcel Tax.
Almendral Hybrid Pedestrian Beacon – Project #56074 - $350,000
A high-priority project for the Town is improving safety along its streets and corridors for pedestrians, vehicles, and bicyclists. The intersection of Almendral and El Camino Real has a marked crosswalk but is one of 5 existing crosswalk locations without intersection controls within the Town. Installation of the Hybrid Beacon or HAWK improves safety for pedestrians, vehicles, and cyclists. The total project cost is $350,000. The Menlo Park Fire District is paying ½ of that cost and the Town is paying the remainder from the Parcel Tax.
Complete Streets Study – El Camino – Project #56073 - $300,000
This ongoing project is a comprehensive study focused on improving the bicycle, pedestrian, and vehicular safety along the El Camino Corridor in Town. Key stakeholders include Caltrans, the Fire District, adjacent schools and cities, residents, and users. The study will develop community supported concept plans as well as a process to develop engineering designs and construction implementation. The total project cost is $300,000. Approximately $200,000 of that total is being paid in Fiscal Year 2016/17 from the Parcel Tax.
Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan Implementation – Project #56069 - $2,034,000
The Town’s Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan was adopted by the Council in November 2014. The Plan identifies priority bicycle and pedestrian improvement projects throughout Town. The Fiscal Year 2016/17 expenditures include a re-budget of some funds from FY 2015/16 as these projects were not completed. The priority project in Fiscal Year 2016/17 is the Middlefield Road Class II Bike Lane improvements ($1,550,000). The total project cost is $2,034,000. Of that amount, $484,000 comes from the Parcel Tax.
Feasibility Study for Quad Gates at Watkins Avenue – Project #56075 - $100,000
This project funds the analysis and preliminary design of additional pedestrian and vehicular safety gates at the railroad crossing on Watkins Avenue. The Town does not own the crossing and cannot install the improvements. This project is largely dependent on the rail operators along the corridor. This project is solely the feasibility study and not the actual construction of quad gates – construction is estimated at $1.5m plus. The Town continues to seek partner funding from other agencies for implementation. The total project cost is $100,000 funded by the Parcel Tax.
Road Maintenance Projects – Project #56003 - $1,025,000
The road maintenance program is the Town’s annual program for patching, sealing and overlays to maintain our roads in a cost-effective manner. Every two years, an engineering survey and physical inspection is conducted of pavement condition. The work is performed by independent assessors and staff that determine a “pavement condition index” and recommend specific maintenance strategies for each road. Staff analyzes the data and conducts physical inspections to recommend an annual program. The total project cost for Fiscal Year 2016/17 is $1,025,000. Of this amount, $450,000 is funded by the Parcel Tax.
Drainage Improvement Projects – Project #56034 - $740,000
In Fiscal Year 2013/14, the Town approved an update to the Town’s Drainage Master Plan and recommended implementation of Tier I priority projects – those with the highest need based on improving safety, reducing flooding and mitigating environmental degradation. Some of these projects are engineering and design studies and some are physical implementation of projects. Construction projects in Fiscal Year 2016/17 include repairs to the Stockbridge Concrete swales and replacement of failed culverts at Euclid and Camino al Lago. Engineering is being done for parts of the Atherton Channel, studies for drainage along El Camino, and analysis on a needed detention basin. The total cost for Fiscal Year 2016/17 is $740,000. Of that amount, $665,000 is funded by the Parcel Tax.
Marsh Road Retaining Wall Repair Project – Project #54020 - $4,183,168
This project began in Fiscal Year 2015/16. The retaining wall supports Marsh Road and forms one of the walls of the Atherton Channel. The wall and drainage channel is significantly deteriorated and needs repair. The project involves the construction of a new “U” shaped channel structure that could accommodate a cover at some date in the future, if desired. The total project cost is $4,183,168. Of that amount, $300,000 is budgeted in Fiscal Year 2016/17 for contingencies from the Parcel Tax.
Accessibility Improvements Program – Project #56060 - $80,000
Title 28 of the Code of Federal Regulations requires the Town to make all of its facilities accessible to and usable by individuals with disabilities. The Town performs a required annual evaluation and identifies necessary projects. The total project cost for Fiscal Year 2016/17 is $80,000. Of that amount, $60,000 is funded by the Parcel Tax.
Total funds allocated from the Special Parcel Tax in Fiscal Year 2016/17 is $3,019,339.
In addition to the above projects, there are others funded by other funding sources. For more information on the Town’s Capital Projects, you can view the Town’s website or download the Town’s annual operating budget.
Town of Atherton