George Rodericks

City Manager's Blog

The City Manager's Blog is an online educational tool to provide general information to the community in open communication style. Periodically, the City Manager will post articles of general interest covering topics such as the Town's budget, budget process, capital projects, upcoming meetings, community issues, public safety, and general Town operations.

Articles in the blog are not designed as press releases or Town publications, rather, they are written in more of a conversational style. The Blog does not have a comments feature but readers are free to respond to the Blog and its entries view email directly to the City Manager.

Jan 16

That's A Wrap! - January 15, 2020

Posted on January 16, 2020 at 9:17 AM by grodericks grodericks

Thats A Wrap

Council Meeting Date: January 15, 2020
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/TownOfAtherton/featured
Details of each item can be found via the links to Staff Reports within the narrative. 

The City Council met for the January Regular Meeting on Wednesday, January 15 at 7 pm in the Pavilion at Holbrook-Palmer Park. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call, the Council began moving through the Agenda beginning with Presentations and Public Comments.   

ReportFollowing Public Comment, the Council moved to the City Manager's Report. The City Manager's Report is prepared monthly as part of the City Council's Regular Agenda. In addition to current reports from the City Manager, it includes departmental updates on the various happenings around Town such as reports from Administration, Community Services, Planning, 
Police, and Public Works. The Council received Oral Reports from the City Manager and staff on various issues contained within the City Manager's Report. Staff answered questions related to public safety response to schools, more detailed reporting on school response details, and public works storm preparation activities. 

Staff also asked for Council feedback and direction on the preparation and release of a letter to the State regarding Senate Bill 50. The Council articulated concerns related to opposition to SB 50. These included, but were not limited to, calculation of job-rich environments, no clear definition, ambiguity in the legislation, lack of deference to local control, anti-climate slant of bill's requirements, protecting the local single-family residential environment, no clear analysis of long-term impacts, and pushing the impact of development onto neighboring communities. The Council asked that staff prepare a letter of opposition, with the assistance of the Subcommittee, and authorized the Mayor to execute the letter on the Town's behalf. 

Consent_AgendaFollowing the City Manager's Report, the Council moved to the Consent Agenda consisting of Items 8 and 14. Items on the Consent Agenda are considered routine in nature and are generally considered in one motion and adopted by a single vote of the Council. Included in this month's Consent Agenda were bills and claims, City Council Committee Assignments, Resolution authorization the Destruction of Certain Records, 2nd Reading and Adoption of an Ordinance related to Heritage Trees, and Approving the Selection of an Underwriter and Bond Counsel.  

Public_Hearing_ImageNext up was a Public Hearing - Item No. 15, Adoption of a Resolution Certifying the Initial Study/Mitigated Negative Declaration, Mitigation Monitoring Plan, and Approval of Amendments to the Town's General Plan. Following a brief staff report, presentation and opportunity for public comments, the Council discussed issues related to the environmental analysis, corrections to the noise element table data, and overall General Plan modifications. Following discussion, the Council made a minor change to the finding related to emergency access route impact and accepted all other items within the document. The Council certified the IS/MND, approved the Mitigation Monitoring Plan, and Approved the Updates to the General Plan.  

Regular_Agenda_ImageNext up was the Regular Agenda.

The first item on the Regular Agenda was Item No. 16, Discussion and Feedback Regarding the Caltrain Proposal to Permanently Close the Atherton Station. Staff provided a brief staff report and following public comment, the Council discussed issues related to ridership, potential for a shuttle for commuters, "current" versus "no" plans for grade separation, improvements to the overall Caltrain transportation system facilitated by the potential closure, safety around the station and corridor in Atherton, quad gates at Watkins, potential pedestrian path from Watkins into Menlo Park, and expansion of the quiet zone.  Following discussion, the Council expressed support for the general tenets of the Caltrain proposal and directed staff to work with Caltrain and the Subcommittee to develop a Memorandum of Understanding that can be approved by the Council, drilling down and developing some of the details discussed.

Next was Item No. 17, Presentation by Flock and NCRIC and approval of a Lexipol Policy on Automated License Plate Readers. Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed issues related to data storage, use of data, public review, fixed ALPR, purging of data, and audits. Following discussion, the Council approved the Lexipol Policy as amended to eliminate reference to non-law enforcement or non-prosecutorial agencies, and changing "should" to "shall" with respect to purging of data after the applicable retention period. The Council asked that a report be provided once the 60-day Flock test period completes and that the Council be involved in the decision to deploy fixed ALPR. Further, the Council requested that signs be placed at Town entry points advising that the Town uses ALPR technology. 

Next up was Item No. 18, Feedback to the Ad Hoc Subcommittee on Naming Opportunities, Donor Programs and Recognition Related to the Town Center Fundraising Effort. The Ad Hoc Subcommittee presented information related to potential naming opportunities, donor recognition plaques, outreach plan, and a donor opportunity digital booklet. Following the report, the Council discussed issues related to specific naming opportunities, fundraising efforts, funding levels, public outreach, interest by existing donors for naming, feedback from Atherton Now, timing of the Certificates of Participation, and proliferation of individual plaques throughout the project site. Following discussion, the Council clarified that naming opportunities did not necessarily reflect naming of a particular space; rather a funding opportunity to support that particular space. Further, the Council asked that staff connect with Atherton Now to request that they reach out to their donors regarding the Town's current naming/funding levels for specific requests by donors at those existing levels of contribution; and, if Atherton Now does not wish to do so, that the Town may do so. 

The next item was Item No. 19, Review and discussion of a proposed education and outreach program related to the Fire Services Study and providing direction to staff. Following a brief staff report and opportunity for public comment, the Council briefly discussed a 2-3 month outreach program consisting of one or two community meetings and a public outreach mailer. Following discussion, the Council directed staff to move forward with the proposal for outreach.

Item No. 20 was Review, discussion and direction on next steps for the Solid Waste and Post-Collection Services. Following a brief staff report and opportunity for public comment, the Council discussed issues related to SB 1383 implementation, timing for withdrawal from the SBWMA Agreement, funds within the Town's Rate Stabilization Fund, and exit costs. Following discussion, the Council was advised that the issue would return to the Council in February for next steps. 

The last item on the Agenda was Item No. 21, an Update on the progress on the new Town Center. Following a brief staff report and public comment, the Council briefly discussed the progress of the project and the Rammed Earth Wall Mock-up. More information on the Project can be found on via the Project BlogWebsite, and Webcams.

Following Council Reports and Final Public Comments, having cleared the entire Agenda, at approximately 10:57 pm, that as they say - was a wrap!



The next meeting of the City Council will be February 5 for a Study Session. The February meeting tentatively includes the Mid-Year Budget Presentation, Review and Consideration of the Work Plan for Earth Day 2020, and Authorization to File a Conditional Use Permit for the Cartan Field Water Capture Project. 

GeorgeThanks for reading!

George Rodericks
City Manager

Town of Atherton
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us



Dec 19

That's A Wrap! - December 18, 2019

Posted on December 19, 2019 at 11:01 AM by grodericks grodericks

Thats A Wrap

Council Meeting Date: December 18, 2019
Video Link: https://www.youtube.com/user/TownOfAtherton/featured
Details of each item can be found via the links to Staff Reports within the narrative. 

Conners Larson cakeThe City Council met for the December Regular Meeting on Wednesday, December 18 at 7 pm in the Pavilion at Holbrook-Palmer Park. Following the Pledge of Allegiance and Roll Call, the Council moved to Presentations. During Presentations, the Council heard a presentation from Gatepath CEO Bryan Neider and then made a presentation to outgoing City Attorney Bill Conners and Assistant City Attorney Jennifer Larson. 


Rick Elizabeth cakeFollowing Presentations, moved to City Council Reorganization selecting Vice Mayor Rick DeGolia to serve as the Town's next Mayor and Council Member Elizabeth Lewis to serve as the Town's next Vice Mayor. Both will serve in those roles for calendar year 2019.    


Following Council Reorganization and a brief recess for a reception, the Council reconvened and moved to Public Comments. 



ReportFollowing Public Comment, the Council moved to the City Manager's Report. The City Manager's Report is prepared monthly as part of the City Council's Regular Agenda. In addition to current reports from the City Manager, it includes departmental updates on the various happenings around Town such as reports from Administration, Community Services, Planning, 
Police, and Public Works. The Council received Oral Reports from the City Manager and staff on various issues contained within the City Manager's Report. Staff answered questions related to police response times, bicycle and motorized scooter enforcement efforts, and public works storm preparedness efforts. 

Consent_AgendaFollowing the City Manager's Report, the Council moved to the Consent Agenda consisting of Items 8 and 11. Items on the Consent Agenda are considered routine in nature and are generally considered in one motion and adopted by a single vote of the Council. Included in this month's Consent Agenda were bills and claims, 2nd Reading and Adoption of an Ordinance amending the Town's Water Efficient Landscaping Standards, appointment of a representative to the Mosquito and Vector Control District, and acceptance of the 1st Quarter Treasurer's Report.  

Public_Hearing_ImageNext up was a Public Hearing - Item No. 12 - Introduction of Amendments to the Atherton Municipal Code Chapter 8.10 "Removal of and Damage to Heritage Trees", including amending the Heritage Tree Preservation Guidelines, Standards and Specifications. Following a brief staff report, presentation and public comments, the Council discussed issues related to the integration of the standards into the ordinance and how they relate, tracking of tree maintenance deposits, refunding of deposits, and the process involved with spec-homes. Following discussion, the Council introduced the ordinance for 1st Reading and adopted the Tree Preservation Guidelines, Standards and Specifications via Resolution. 

Regular_Agenda_ImageNext up was the Regular Agenda.

The first item on the Regular Agenda was Item No. 13, Award of Contract for City Attorney Services. Staff provided a brief staff report and following public comment, the Council directed staff to prepare a contract with Mona Ebrahimi, KMTG, for City Attorney Services and authorized the Mayor to execute the contract on behalf of the Town. 

Next was Item No. 14, Discussion on the San Mateo County's Office of Sustainability Proposed Disposable Food Service Ware Ordinance and Possible Restrictions on their use in Town. Following a staff report and public comment, the Council discussed issues related to the applicability of the ordinance locally if adopted; applicability to Town facilities; applicability to food truck vendors and public schools; enforcement; cost of enforcement; penalties; and possibility of future similar mandates. Following discussion, the Council directed that staff continue moving forward with a proposed local ordinance that would be made applicable to food truck vendors as well as Town facilities. 

Next up was Item No. 15, Review of the Town's Residential Alarm Ordinance. Staff presented the issue for Council consideration and after opportunity for public comment, the Council discussed issues related to the annual $50 fee; the $100 registration fee; Town-monitored versus privately monitored systems; and payment/collection. Following discussion, the Council asked that staff return the ordinance for minor modification along with a letter to the community advising of the changed ordinance requirements, the new alarm registration fee ($100), the annual fee of $50 to provide updated information to the Police Department, the cost of multiple false alarms, and advise that if residents have a current alarm that there will not be a registration fee if a response and registration information is received within a set period of time (6-months), after that period the registration fee will be required. 

Item No. 16 was Acceptance of Donation Naming Requests and Discussion and Direction Regarding Donors. Following a brief staff report and opportunity for public comment, the Council discussed the various naming request tiers and setup an Ad Hoc Committee to review the tiers, recommend any changes, and provide a contact letter to donors along with an outreach plan. The Council then heard a report on recent contact with Atherton Now regarding donors and asked that the Ad Hoc Committee discuss a response. Lastly, the Council accepted two naming requests submitted for the K-9 Corner and the Cafe Terrace. 

Item No. 17 was Authorization for Release of a Request for Proposal for Procurement Assistance for Solar and Micro-Grid Power Services Provider. Staff presented a brief staff report. Following the staff report and opportunity for public comment, the Council discussed the various system design opportunities, extent of services, power requirements and provisions of the system, cost of a generator alternative, and timeline. Following discussion, the Council authorized the release of the RFP. 

Next up was Item No. 18, Review and Discussion of the Status of the Fire Services Fiscal Review and Provide Direction on Next Steps. Staff provided a brief staff report followed by a report from the Ad Hoc Subcommittee. Following opportunity for public comment, the Council discussed the various policy options open for consideration. The Council discussed the need for continuing or not continuing pursuit of the issue, the equity imbalance, service delivery, urgency, cost, and process. Following discussion, the Council asked that staff return with a proposal for additional education and outreach to the community (and cost estimate); develop a plan and process for moving through LAFCO's application process (and cost estimate); and setup meetings with County and State Legislative Officials (Ad Hoc Subcommittee). 

The last item on the Agenda was Item No. 19, an Update on the progress on the new Town Center. Following a brief staff report and public comment, the Council briefly discussed the progress of the project and the plan for the Rammed Earth Wall Mock-up. More information on the Project can be found on via the Project BlogWebsite, and Webcams.

Following Council Reports and Final Public Comments, having cleared the entire Agenda, at approximately 10:30 pm, that as they say - was a wrap!



The next meeting of the City Council will be January 15 for a Regular Meeting. The January 15 meeting tentatively includes adoption of the 2019 General Plan Updates; Acceptance of the 2018/19 Audited Financial Statements; Presentation by FLOCK and NCRIC and adoption of the revised ALPR Policy; Presentation on potential renovations to the Art and Garden Room; City Council Committee Assignments; and a Town Center Update. 

GeorgeThanks for reading!

George Rodericks
City Manager

Town of Atherton
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us



Dec 13

Property Tax Revenues to the Town

Posted on December 13, 2019 at 1:34 PM by grodericks grodericks

Banner_Image

Property Tax Revenues to the Town

In November each year (due December 10), property owners pay their 1st installment of secured property taxes to the County Tax Collector. The 2nd installment is billed by the County in February and due by April 10. Your property tax bill consists of the General Tax - a 1% tax based on the Assessed Value of your property - and Other Special Charges. The bulk of the tax remitted is in the General Tax category. Other Special Charges are typically parcel taxes and fees added by Special Districts such as sanitary, school, college, hospital, mosquito, and open space districts.

Looking at the detailed Special Charges, it is easy to identify who gets what. The Town does not have any Special Charges or Taxes collected via property taxes. But what about that 1%, the largest number on any tax bill in Atherton? Who get's that?

Dividing Up the 1%

The median home price in Atherton in 2019 was $7,100,000. That's down from a high of $7,250,000 in 2018. The 1% General Tax on a property valued at $7.1 million is approximately $71,000. That 1% General Tax is divided up based on Tax Rate Areas, but for the basic tax rate area (TRA 001-001), the breakdown is as follows for each $1 of that General Tax:
HdL_Bar_Chart
  • San Mateo County (23.60%)
  • Menlo Park City Elementary (16.64%)
  • Menlo Park Fire District (15.70%)
  • Sequoia High School (15.56%)
  • Town of Atherton (10.56%)
  • San Mateo Junior College (6.76%)
  • County Education Tax (3.52%)
  • County Library Tax (3.44%)
  • Mid-Pen Regional Open Space (1.83%)
  • Sequoia Hospital District (1.83%)
  • County Harbor District (0.35%)
  • Bay Area Air Pollution (0.21%)
  • Mosquito Abatement District (0.19%)
  • Atherton Channel Drainage (0.18%)
These numbers include the Educational Reimbursement Augmentation Fund (ERAF). ERAF is a State allocation that takes away local property taxes from designated agencies and funnels them through the State to meet the State's mandated funding levels for education. At the end of that calculation, the State remits the residual back to the local agencies. The amount that is returned to each agency varies year by year and is not a dependable source of revenue for operations. Removing ERAF, the Town's share of that $1 of General Tax is 8.57 cents. 

So how much does the Town get of that $71,000 in property taxes paid by that median-priced property?

The Town receives $6,085. 

Assessed Valuation and Taxable Parcels

There are 2,618 taxable parcels in the Town. The total net taxable value (total Assessed Valuation) for the Town is $11,664,530,505. That amount represents an increase of 6.6% over the 2018/19 fiscal year, which is slightly less than the increase experienced countywide at 7.0%. The assessed value increase from 2018/19 to 2019/20 was $723,370,052 and is broken down into the following components:
Tax_Change_YeartoYear  

The bulk of the 6.6% increase is attributable to the home sales/transfer of ownership at 3.11% ($340,354,973). Below that, the net value change from the 2% Proposition 13 CPI at 1.82% ($199,655,346). The next largest component is new residential construction being reassessed and coming onto the tax rolls reflecting 1.29% ($140,618,936). But these numbers represent the total new assessed valuation only. This is the amount each property gets taxed upon for the 1% General Tax. Breaking that down into the 8.57 cents for each dollar that the Town receives, the amounts are as follows: 
Assessed_Value_Tax_Add

Out of the $723,370,652 in new assessed valuation, the Town receives $478,871 in new property tax receipts. 

Overall

Atherton's Assessed Valuation continues to post growth for the 9th year in a row, but at a slower pace. The table below reflects the growth in Assessed Valuation over the past 10 years.
 
Fiscal Year Growth
2019/20 6.61%
2018/19 7.06%
2017/18 7.44%
2016/17 8.21%
2015/16 8.96%
2014/15 6.50%
2013/14 9.02%
2012/13 9.03%
2011/12 3.10%
2010/11 -0.07%

The average annual change over the past 20 years has been 8.21%. As in prior years, the Town's anticipated future growth is tied to new construction additions, sales transactions and the annually applied California CPI adjustment under Proposition 13. There are fewer and fewer pre-Proposition 13 properties in Town that remain on the tax rolls at reduced rates. Most homes have been remodeled or transferred in ownership since 1979. Proposition 8 was passed in 1978 as an amendment to Proposition 13 and it annually caps the assessed value of property as of the lien date at the lessor of its market value or its factored base year value. Absent a transfer of ownership or remodel, these homes will remain at a lower base year taxable amount. In Atherton, there are only 37 of the 2,618 parcels awaiting Proposition 8 restoration. Their restoration would only move the needle 0.5%.

For more information on any of the above, feel free to give me a call or send me an email. Linked here is the latest Property Tax Report for the Town with more information on the data above. 

Thanks!

George Rodericks
City Manager
grodericks@ci.atherton.ca.us
(650) 752-0504