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November 3, 2020 — California General Election
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Local

City of Albany
Measure EE Parcel Tax - 2/3 Approval Required

To learn more about measures, follow the links for each tab in this section. For most screenreaders, you can hit Return or Enter to enter a tab and read the content within.

Election Results

Passed

5,753 votes yes (58.87%)

4,019 votes no (41.13%)

100% of precincts reporting (3/3).

To maintain City of Albany paramedic, advanced life support, fire engine and ambulance service, with funding that cannot be taken by Sacramento; shall a measure increasing the annual current paramedic advanced life support fire engine and ambulance service special tax from $23.66 to $68 per assigned residential unit, providing an additional $359,600 annually until ended by voters, exempting very low-income residents, with annual independent audits, with all funds remaining local, be adopted?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

A "yes" vote on Measure EE will approve the ALS tax rate increase.

  

NO vote means

A "no" vote on Measure EE will not approve the ALS tax rate increase.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

Malathy Sumarian Albany City Attorney

CITY OF ALBANY CITY ATTORNEY'S IMPARTIAL ANALYSIS OF BALLOT MEASURE (Paramedic Advanced Life Support Fire Engines and Ambulance Special Tax)

The City of Albany ("City") currently imposes a Paramedic Advanced Life Support Fire Engines and Ambulance Special Tax ("ALS" tax) at the rate of $23 .66 per residential unit in the City. The ALS tax currently provides approximately $191,880.00 annually to the City's Emergency Medical Services Fund.

Measure EE was placed on the ballot by the Albany City Council and, if approved by a twothirds supermajority of Albany voters, will amend the Municipal Code to increase the ALS tax rate from $23 .66 to $68.00 per residential unit. It is anticipated that this rate increase will generate an additional $359,600.00 in new revenues. The new rate would become effective on July 1, 2021 and remain in effect until modified or repealed by voters.

The ALS tax generally applies to all residential units in the City, however Measure EE adds exemptions for very low-income homeowners from paying the tax on their residential units. In addition, Measure EE allows very low-income renters to obtain a rebate for ALS tax imposed on their rented units.

Measure EE is a "special tax," meaning that revenues from the tax must be spent only for specific purposes. All revenue from this tax would be deposited into the City's Emergency Medical Services Fund and used for the sole and exclusive purpose of providing paramedic, advanced life support, fire engine and ambulance transport services. All revenues raised by the tax would remain in the City and could not be appropriated by the State, County, or any other agency.

A "yes" vote on Measure EE will approve the ALS tax rate increase.

A "no" vote on Measure EE will not approve the ALS tax rate increase.

The above statement is an impartial analysis of Measure EE. If you desire a copy of the ordinance or measure, please call the City Clerk's office at (510) 528-5710 and a copy will be mailed at no cost to you.

/s/ Malathy Subramanian, City Attorney 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

One of the special things about living in Albany is the quality of our ambulance services. Unlike many cities, our fire department emergency responders have the right to transport patients directly to a hospital emergency room—without handing them off to a private ambulance company. These transport rights confer several advantages.

First, because we have an ambulance stationed at our fire department, response times for medical emergencies average less than four minutes. Second, because of the potential closure of Alta Bates hospital, more patients will have to be transported to hospitals in Oakland. During these longer trips, injured residents will receive continuous care from our fire department paramedics. Third, our fire department paramedics are among the most experienced and professional in the Bay Area.

But there are problems ahead. Alameda County has significantly cut back on its paramedic support. With rising expenses for advanced lifesaving equipment and aging assets needing replacement, more and more of the costs of Albany’s ambulance services are being covered by the city’s general fund. In addition, our fire department has seen a 34 percent increase in the number of requests in calls for emergency services during the past 10 years.

In the past, Albany voters have generously supported our ambulance services by voting in favor of two dedicated parcels taxes. Measure N is an annual charge of $22.90, while the Paramedic Supplement is an annual charge of $85.10. Both are adjusted for inflation. This ballot measure will raise the Measure N parcel tax next year from $23.61 to $68 per residential unit. It will provide an additional $360,000 to fund advanced lifesaving measures.

Because this is a dedicated tax, the ballot measure requires a two-thirds majority to pass. Measure EE is a great investment in Albany’s future.

Please vote YES.

Nick Pilch, Albany Mayor

Peggy McQuaid, Albany Vice Mayor

Peter Maass, Albany City Council Member

Michael Barnes, Albany City Council Member

Arguments AGAINST

Measure EE proposes to charge the owner of a 750 square foot one bedroom condominium the same amount as the owner of a 4,500 square foot, five bedroom, five bathroom house. Due to the likely lower income of the owner of the small condominium, this regressive tax will make them bear a much larger burden than the owner of the five bedroom house. Additionally both would pay almost as much as the owner of a large commercial property, such as Target.

This backward and unjust proposition comes at a time when the State and many cities nearby are taking decisive action to correct regressive tax measures instead of worsen them. At the state level, Proposition 15 seeks to finally amend our state constitution, which currently charges lower taxes on large commercial properties than residential. Concurrently, other cities in the state have voted to tax all residences and commercial property based on square footage. Our neighbors in Berkeley approved two such tax measures just last March with over 80% of votes in favor.

Instead of taking similar steps to make our taxes more progressive, equitable, and just, Albany’s City Council has persisted in putting regressive measures like EE on the ballot. While the services funded by this measure are vital, providing them in this way is not; there are more progressive options.

Please show that Albany wants to make our taxes more fair and send a clear message that we want a better measure by voting NO on Measure EE.

Thank you for considering.

/s/ Aaron Tiedemann, Albany resident

/s/ Preston Jordan, Albany resident

Replies to Arguments FOR

Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure EE

Measure EE is not the first regressive tax Albany has considered, and at the current rate, it looks like it will not be the last. While some on the Council advocate for this measure as a stopgap before a more progressive measure can be passed, they were presented the opportunity to pass such a measure before putting EE on the ballot, but responded that such a tax was too complicated for you, the voter. While we support funding our emergency services, we as a city have to send a message that our taxes need to be equitable for all residents. Passing EE now means there is no impetus to pass a more progressive measure in the future, especially when our Council has repeatedly failed to do so in the past.

 

The City Council has stated that this measure is necessary to make up for the budget shortfalls COVID-19 is causing in our City and County budget. But EE cannot fully respond to this gap, and it cannot do so equitably. Furthermore, between the funds made available through the CARES act and possible if we take a hard look at our own budget and priorities, we can meet the needs of the moment without further harming the members of our community already most hurt by  this crisis.

/s/Aaron Tiedemann, Albany resident

/sf Preston Jordan, Albany resident

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Rebuttal to Argument Against Measure EE

It's good to read that the opposition statement agrees "services funded by this measure are vital." However, five-bedroom houses are rare in Albany, and Target is not our typical retailer. Good policy is not based on extreme examples, but on what is common. In Albany that's smaller houses, apartments and businesses.

The relationship between the size of a house and disposable income is murky. That's true for ambulance calls, too. Families with children have more expenses, need bigger houses, and pay a lot for them. Seniors tend to be the main users of ambulance services, but they may or may not live in large homes, and they may be asset-rich but cash-poor. Square footage simply isn't a good way to determine who should pay more for ambulance calls.

The opposition statement fails to mention that the proposed measure already includes a better plan-a low-income exemption for both homeowners and renters. In addition, the measure requires commercial parcels to pay twice the amount of residential units, and industrial parcels to pay four times as much. Concerns about regressive taxation have been addressed.

The opposition statement assumes that policies that work in Berkeley and other California cities are appropriate for us. Given the relatively small size of our city government, a simple policy that is not costly to implement and maintain is the best policy. Albany has a unique ambulance service that meets our needs. Our method for supporting it should meet our needs as well.

Nick Pilch, Albany Mayor

Peggy McQuaid, Albany Vice Mayor

Peter Maass, Albany City Council Member

Michael Barnes, Albany City Council Member

Read the proposed legislation

Proposed legislation

AN ORDINANCE AMENDING SECTION 4-8, CHAPTER IV OF THE ALBANY MUNICIPAL CODE INCREASING THE RATE OF THE PARAMEDIC ADVANCED LIFE SUPPORT FIRE ENGINES AND AMBULANCE SPECIAL TAX FROM $23.66 PER RESIDENTIAL UNIT TO $68 PER RESIDENTIAL UNIT AND PROVIDING FOR CERTAIN EXEMPTIONS AND REBATES FROM THE SPECIAL TAX FOR QUALIFYING VERY LOW-INCOME RESIDENTS NOW THEREFORE, THE PEOPLE OF THE CITY OF ALBANY DO ORDAIN AS FOLLOWS:

SECTION 1: AUTHORITY.

This Ordinance is enacted in accordance with the authority granted to cities by Article XI, Section 7, Article XIIIA, Section 4 and Article XIIIC, Section 2 of the California Constitution and the 25 California Elections Code.

SECTION 2: AMENDMENT TO SUBSECTION 4-8.2 OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE.

Chapter IV, Section 4-8, Subsection 4-8.2 of the City of Albany Municipal Code is hereby amended to read:

“4-8.2       Special Tax.

a.      The intent of the tax imposed under this section is solely for the purpose of providing additional funding for the City's Emergency Medical Services Program in order to protect individual health and safety and to improve the quality of life in the City of Albany.

b.     Section 4 of Article XIIIA of the California Constitution (Proposition 13) allows two-thirds(2/3) of the qualified electors of the City to impose a special tax within the City, provided the special tax is not an ad valorem tax on real property or a transaction tax or a sales tax on the sale of real property within the City. The tax imposed by this Section is a special tax which is authorized for elector approval by Section 4 of Article XIIIA of the California Constitution.

c.      The City Council is hereby authorized to increase levy the Emergency Medical Services special tax in the maximum amount of eighteen ($18.00) sixty-eight ($68.00) dollars per residential unit as follows:

Categories                                                                                      Residential Units Assigned

Residential (per unit)                                                                                                   1

Commercial (per parcel)                                                                                                                                          2

Industrial (per parcel)                                                                                                  4

Institutional (per parcel)                                                                                              1

 

Rural (per parcel)                                                                                                        1

d.     The tax imposed by this section shall be operative on July 1, 2001 2021.

e.      The tax imposed by this Section shall be subject to the exemptions and rebates set forth in this Section.

1.    Single-family residential parcels and units on multi-family residential parcels shall be exempt from the special tax if they are owned and occupied by a person or persons whose combined family income, from all sources for the previous calendar year, is at or below the income level qualifying as "very low-income" for a family of such size under Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C.A. Sections 1437 et seq.), for such year. The application process will be in the form of self-certification under penalty of perjury. Owners must apply for the exemption provided for in this Section annually by application to the Finance Director in the manner and at the time set forth by the Finance Director. Such applications shall be on forms provided by the Finance Director and shall provide such information as the Finance Director may require. If the Finance Director determines the need to audit an application, the Finance Director may require additional information, including, but not limited to, federal income tax returns and W-2 forms of owner-occupants eligible for this exemption.

2.    Renters who reside in a residential rental unit within the City of Albany whose combined family income, from all sources for the previous calendar year, is at or below the income level qualifying as "very low-income" for a family of such size under Section 8 of the United States Housing Act of 1937 (42 U.S.C.A. Sections 1437et seq.), for such year may apply for a rebate of the special tax imposed by this section that applies to the rental unit in which they reside. Renters must apply for the rebate provided in this section annually by application to the Finance Director in the manner and at the time set forth by the Finance Director. Such applications shall be on forms provided by the Finance Director and shall provide such information as the Finance Director may require. If the Finance Director determines the need to audit an application, the Finance Director may require additional information, including, but not limited to, federal income tax returns and W-2 forms of renter occupants eligible for this exemption. Only one such rebate shall be allowed annually to a rental unit.

ef. The proceeds of the Paramedic Life Advanced Support Fire Engines and Ambulance Special Tax shall be deposited in the Emergency Medical Services Fund and shall be used for the sole and exclusive purpose of providing paramedic advanced life support fire engines and ambulance transport services.”

SECTION 3: AMENDMENT TO SUBSECTION 4-8.3 OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE.

Chapter IV, Section 4-8, Subsection 4-8.3 of the City of Albany Municipal Code is hereby amended to read:

4-8.3 Annual Audit. A certified public accounting firm retained by the City will perform an annual audit to assure accountability of the proper disbursement of these tax proceeds in accordance with the objectives stated herein. The chief fiscal officer/Finance Director of the City shall cause a report (the “Report”) to be prepared and filed with the City Council no later than June 30 of each year. The Report shall state: (a) the amount of special tax proceeds collected and expended in such year; and (b) the status of any projects or description of any programs funded from proceeds of the special tax. The Report may be incorporated into or filed with the annual budget, audit, or other appropriate routine report to the City Council.

SECTION 4: AMENDMENT TO SUBSECTION 4-8.10 OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE.

Chapter IV, Section 4-8, Subsection 4-8.10 of the City of Albany Municipal Code is hereby amended to read:

“4-8.10 Increase Appropriations Limit.

Pursuant to California Constitution Article XIIIB, the appropriations limit for the City of Albany is hereby increased by the aggregate sum authorized to be levied by this special tax for fiscal year 2011/20122021/22 and each year thereafter.”

SECTION 5: AMENDMENT TO SUBSECTION 4-8.11 OF THE MUNICIPAL CODE.

Chapter IV, Section 4-8, Subsection 4-8.11 of the City of Albany Municipal Code is hereby amended to read:

“4-8.11     Reduction in Adjustment to Tax Rate and Limited Authority to Increase.

a.      Subject to paragraph b, the tax rates imposed by Section 4-8 are maximum rates and may not be increased by the City Council above such maximum rates. The tax imposed by this resolution ordinance may be reduced in rate or eliminated suspended by the City Council on or before July 1st in any year in which the City Council determines that after such rate reduction or elimination suspension there will be sufficient revenues available to balance the City Council's Adopted Policy Budget. Such reduction or elimination shall be effective for the fiscal year following such vote Council action. Subject to the maximum rates set forth in this Section 4-8, the City Council may reinstate the tax or increase the rate of the tax, on or before July 1st in any subsequent year in which the City Council determines that said reinstatement or rate increase is necessary to generate sufficient revenues to balance the City Council's Adopted Policy Budget. Such reinstatement or rate increase shall be effective for the fiscal year following such Council action.

b.     Commencing in fiscal year 2011-2012 2021-2022 and each year thereafter, the City Council may increase the tax imposed hereby only upon a finding that maximum rate of the tax shall be increased by the change in the annual the cost of living index in the immediate San Francisco Bay Area, as verified by the Consumer Price Index established by the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics (All Urban Consumer-San Francisco Bay Area), has increased. The increase of the tax imposed hereby shall not exceed such verified index or (On an annual basis by four (4%) percent of over the tax rates imposed by the City of Albany during the immediately preceding fiscal year.”

SECTION 6: CALIFORNIA ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY ACT.

The findings for this Ordinance in compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act (“CEQA”) are the same as those set forth in City Council Resolution No. 2020-70 calling for an election on this Ordinance. The CEQA findings set forth in Resolution No. 2020-70 are incorporated herein by reference.

SECTION 7: SEVERABILITY.

If any provision of this Ordinance or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the remainder of the Ordinance and the application of such provision to other persons or circumstances shall not be affected thereby.

SECTION 8: EFFECTIVE DATE.

Pursuant to California Constitution Article XIIIC §(2)(d) and California Elections Code §9217, this Ordinance shall take effect only if approved by a two-thirds (2/3) supermajority of the eligible voters of the City of Albany voting at the General Municipal Election to be held on November 3, 2020 and shall become effective 10 days after the City Council has declared the results of the Election.

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