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San Mateo County, CA November 6, 2001 Election
Measure R
Adjustment of Appropriations Limit for Utility Users Tax
Town of Portola Valley

Tax Ordinance - Majority Vote Required

1,041 / 72.4% Yes votes ...... 397 / 27.6% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Information shown below: Yes/No Meaning | Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

Shall the Town of Portola Valley adjust the appropriations limit of the Town each fiscal year commencing July 1, 2002 by the amount of money collected from the existing 5.5% Utility Users Tax during the time of its levy and collection, provided that the authorization to so adjust the appropriations limit shall not exceed four (4) years from the end of Fiscal Year 2001 - 2002?

Meaning of Voting Yes/No
A YES vote of this measure means:
A majority "yes" vote adjusts the appropriations limit to allow the utility user's tax to continue at its present rate.

A NO vote of this measure means:
A "no" vote means that the appropriations limit will not be adjusted.

Impartial Analysis from Margaret A. Sloan, Town Attorney for Town of Portola Valley
The Council of the Town of Portola Valley has called for a municipal election to be combined with the general election to be held on November 6, 2001, for the purposes of presenting to the Town's qualified electors a ballot measure, which, if approved by more than 50% of the voters voting on the measure, will authorize an adjustment in the Town's appropriations limit each of the next four fiscal years starting July 1, 2002, by the amount of money raised from the imposition of the current 5.5% utility user's tax during the time of its levy and collection. Following the final fiscal year of these four fiscal years, the Town's appropriations limit will revert to the amount it would have been had the ballot measure not received a favorable vote.

If the measure receives a favorable vote, the utility user's tax will continue to be levied and collected at a rate not to exceed 5.5%. Money collected from the tax levy will be placed in the Town's general fund and expended for general governmental purposes. If the measure does not receive a favorable vote, the utility user's tax may not be levied, collected and expended in an amount that would cause the Town to exceed its current appropriations limit.


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Monday, October 8, 7:00 - 8:00 pm for Portola Valley candidates, 8:00-8:30 pm for ballot measures, The Sequoias, 501 Portola Road, Portola Valley
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Arguments For Measure R Arguments Against Measure R
VOTE YES ON PROPOSITION R to permit our Town Council to continue our Utility Users Tax (UUT) at its current rate to assure Portola Valley's continued financial strength.

Portola Valley's tradition of sound government has always been characterized by prudent financial management. With its small, but efficient staff, and strong volunteer tradition, the Town serves its residents with the smallest municipal budget in San Mateo County.

In 1985, the Town Council enacted the first UUT to provide funds for public works facilities. Residents voted to extend the UUT to complete those projects in 1987. Since then, loss of property tax revenues to the State, and costly Federal and State mandates have reduced revenues and increased costs to all local governments including Portola Valley. To confront this loss of revenue and increase in costs, Town residents voted overwhelmingly in 1993 and 1997 to extend the UUT for four year periods at the present 5 1/2% rate.

Currently, the UUT provides about $514,000 per year toward our General Fund, which is 13 % of our total yearly revenue. Eliminating the tax would require cuts in services such as public safety and public works projects, and would eventually reduce our reserves to an unacceptable level. The Town Council has determined that a 5 1/2 % UUT rate will provide the present level of services and will maintain a prudent level of reserves.

By voting YES ON PROPOSITION R, we will give the Town Council discretion to levy the UUT at a 5 1/2 % rate, or less if circumstances permit, and continue our tradition of responsive and financially responsible government.

We recognize the critical need for your approval of this ballot measure. Please join us in Voting YES ON PROPOSITION R.

/s/ Kirke Comstock

/s/ Robert H. Anderson
Former Mayor

/s/ Robert V. Brown
Former Mayor

/s/ Chip McIntosh
Planning Commissioner

/s/ Michele T. Takei
Finance Committee Chair

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Enough is enough! Portola Valley voters went along with the utility tax scheme in 1985 to help the town government with a "temporary cash flow problem."

Fifteen years later, the tax is still with us, and proponents are telling us they need our taxpayer subsidy, because there are still more worthy projects needing our money.

Proponents use scare tactics, telling us that worthy projects may not be completed without continuation of this extra tax.

Make no mistake about it: The utility tax is a permanent tax unless voters act! How often do governments ever voluntarily return money to the taxpayer?

Governments at all levels are inefficient, bloated with excess personnel and duplication of tasks. Legitimate functions can be maintained without gimmick taxes.

Governments - and the city government of Portola Valley is no different - never have enough money. Politicians and bureaucrats conjure up new projects and ways to increase the size of government. To accomplish their goal they create gimmicky taxes such as the utility tax.

Fifteen years after the utility tax was voted in, the city government has grown: Big budgets, Big staffs, Big salaries, and Big employee benefits.

Evidence of the town government's growth is the expensive Town Administrator position that may become an even more expensive City Manager.

A good way to keep Portola Valley a semi-rural community in a country setting is by limiting the size of our government.

Support Limited Government. Retire the Utility Tax.

Vote NO on Measure R

/s/ Bill Henderson
Portola Valley Taxpayer

/s/ Morris Fiorina
Professor, Stanford Univ.

/s/ Margret Buckley Schmidt
Treasurer, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ John J. Hickey
Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Christopher VA Schmidt
Retired Computer Professional

It's really very simple.

Measure R deals with two interrelated issues:

1. Utility taxes; and,
2. The Gann Expenditure Limit

Those friends of the taxpayer, Howard Jarvis and Paul Gann, provided Constitutional safeguards for mere mortals from the insatiable appetite of tax and spend bureaucrats and politicians. These interact in ways which frustate those bureaucrats and politicians.

When revenues were low, Portola Valley politicos enacted utility taxes to help fill the coffers to the level allowed by Gann. Now that their revenues are overflowing, they seek increases in the Gann Limit so they can spend the largesse.

The moral thing to do, would be to repeal the utility taxes. And, in the future, comply with laws requiring voter approval for such taxes.

Vote NO on Measure R

/s/ William Henderson
Business Owner

/s/ Linden Hsu
Secretary, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ John J. Hickey
Chair, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Our Town founders incorporated Portola Valley as a "low property tax" municipality depending on a small, efficient staff and a strong volunteer effort to provide needed services. Today, the Town receives just 8% of its revenues from the property tax. The Utility Users Tax (UUT) currently contributes an important 13% toward the Town's total revenues. It helps maintain a strong General Fund balance for emergencies such as the early storm damage stabilization and repair needed during the storms of 1998, and contributes toward the current level of services and public works projects.

The UUT is a voter-approved tax which expires in four years. The rate is limited to 5-1/2% and is set at that level or less by the Town Council in formal public hearings. Portola Valley residents have voted overwhelmingly to approve the UUT on four previous occasions.

/s/ Gary Nielsen
Former Mayor

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Created: December 3, 2001 02:34
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