CO$T’s 2020 Endorsements:
- NO on SMART sales tax renewal – Measure I
- NO on another Tam Union High School parcel tax increase – Measure B
- YES on San Geronimo Measure D
- YES on Marin Wildfire Protection Parcel tax Measure C
- No on California Proposition 13 (2020) $15 billion school bond
- Novato Unified School District parcel tax Measure A – CO$T has no formal involvement but will have flyers from opposition leaders NoNovatoTax.org
COST OPPOSES SMART SALES TAX ON MARCH 2020 BALLOT
The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers OPPOSES Measure I , which would renew until 2059 the ¼ cent sales tax dedicated to the Sonoma Marin Area Rapid Transit (SMART) agency. Measure I will be on the ballot for the March 3, 2020 election (ballots mail around February 1).
Leading Marin citizens’ opposition, CO$T submitted the primary and rebuttal arguments against Measure I, which appear in the voter pamphlet. CO$T’s two ballot arguments, shown below, make the case for why Marin should vote NO. As you read through these, please take note of the co-signers of our ballot arguments, who joined a wide-ranging coalition opposed to giving SMART 39 years of free rein with our tax dollars.
PRIMARY ARGUMENT AGAINST MEASURE I (Prepared and Submitted by CO$T)
At $2.4 billion dollars in new taxes, Measure I is too much for something that does so little. There’s no accountability.
Measure I adds a 30-year extension of Sonoma-Marin Area Rail Transit District’s (SMART) current sales tax, which doesn’t even expire for another nine years.
Measure I gives SMART a blank check with our sales tax dollars until 2059 -allowing it to spend tax revenue on things that don’t improve transportation. SMART lacks transparency and needs better budget oversight.
SMART has had no material impact on 101 traffic in Marin. BUT they’ve made Central Marin traffic much worse.
COSTLY AND INEFFICIENT
For each round trip on SMART, the subsidy is more than $100. So in addition to the ticket price it costs taxpayers an additional $100 per round trip for each rider.
More than 42% of SMART’s current sales tax revenue goes to pay interest on its debt.
Connections to other public transit like Larkspur ferry aren’t synced. Passengers will wait up to 90 minutes for train-ferry connections.
In 2008, SMART promised 70 miles of train track. Eleven years later there are only 45 miles.
SMART – began rail service over three years behind schedule and massively over budget
SMART promised Marin voters a 70 mile continuous bike path. A fraction of the path has been built, in non-continuous segments. Current plans for Measure spending doesn’t include ANY bike path money.
POOR MANAGEMENT AND BAD DECISIONS
•SMART will spend $65 million for a three mile Windsor track extension that generates few additional riders.
• SMART didn’t implement 7 of 8 of a Grand Jury report’s recommendations designed to improve the agency’s financial oversight and communication with the public.
Vote NO on Measure I and send a strong message to SMART that they can’t waste any more taxpayer money.
COALITION OF SENSIBLE TAXPAYERS
Mimi Willard, President
CITIZENS FOR SUSTAINABLE PENSION PLANS
Jody Morales, Founder
MIKE ARNOLD PhD, Economist
PAUL PREMO Foreperson Pro Tem, 2012-2013 Marin County Civil Grand Jury
CARSTEN ANDERSEN Former President, Marin Cyclists
REBUTTAL TO THE ARGUMENT IN FAVOR OF MEASURE I (Prepared and Submitted by CO$T)
SMART Gets Another $2.4 Billion from Measure I. Marin Gets Nothing
4 out of 5 of SMART’s scanty ridership are Sonoma residents.
What SMART promised Marin — but can’t deliver — is traffic and greenhouse gas reduction. They don’t even try to substantiate those claims.
The Inconvenient Truth
SMART trains block major Marin arteries, snarling tens of thousands of exhaust emitting cars in a massive daily traffic jam. This benefits under 1,000 commuters riding to/through Central Marin. Many previously rode buses.
SMART repeatedly refused to promptly provide ACCURATE, DETAILED ridership data. They don’t want you know they’re running so many near-empty diesel trains. That increases carbon emissions and wastes taxpayer dollars on subsidies averaging nine times the ticket price.
SMART blew off Marin County Civil Grand Jury’s recommended reforms. SMART’s Citizens Oversight Committee met only once in 2018.
SMART’s interest expense RISES another $47 million under Measure I. Postponing debt repayment 30 years costs us much more interest.
Measure I commits ZERO to addressing the broken promise of a continuous 70 mile bike/pedestrian path.
With only a single-track, SMART cannot provide frequent service nor fix long waits for ferry connections.
This sales tax costs on average $9,700 per Marin household.
The current sales tax doesn’t expire until 2029. It is regional infrastructure. SMART should be funded instead by the proposed November 2020 $100 Billion nine-county Faster Bay Area Transportation Sales Tax, NOT a Marin County sales tax.
VOTE NO. Visit NotSoSmart.org
JAMES H. ANDREWS
Councilman & Mayor, Town of Corte Madera
ROGER E. ROBERTS
Project Finance Analyst
THOMAS A. RUBIN
COST OPPOSES HUGE HIGH SCHOOL PARCEL TAX ON MARCH 2020 BALLOT
The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers OPPOSES Measure B, which would raise for the second time in little over a year, the parcel tax for Tamalpais Union High Schools (Redwood, Drake, and Tamalpais). All told, the tax jumps from $300 to $645, then increases 3% annually for 10 years.
Leading Marin citizens’ opposition, CO$T submitted the primary and rebuttal arguments against Measure B, which appear in the voter pamphlet. This tax is simply unfair, unaffordable, and unnecessary.
CO$T’s two ballot arguments, shown below, make the case for why Tam District residents should vote NO.
Argument Against Tam Union Parcel Tax
Voters should reject Measure B, an unfair and unaffordable ten-year parcel tax renewal and dramatic increase. Your taxes start at $645 a year,
increasing 3% annually, reaching $842 in 10 years. Up from $300 just 2 years ago.
Voters passed a $149 second parcel tax for TUHSD in 2018 (on top of the larger existing one). TUHSD is adding back costs reduced just last year and wants another $190!
Measure B is unfair because it’s a flat rate. A studio pays the same as a mansion, mall or apartment complex.
TUHSD says this tax hike request was always part of the plan. This was not disclosed to voters who approved Measure J 16 months ago.
Rising enrollment is the supposed reason for a higher tax. But their own study shows enrollment declines start in 3 years.
No 10-year financial forecast justifies the proposed 10-year tax.
Pension expenses are why we’re facing so many tax measures. TUHSD must lobby Sacramento for reform instead of hitting homeowners with increasing parcel taxes.
Seniors and medically disabled: Though you can get an exemption from this tax, it DOES harm you. Your friends, neighbors, and caregivers are forced out by unaffordability. Your kids can’t live nearby. Higher taxes don’t help property values, and they threaten your quality of life.
Don’t believe threats of teacher layoffs and rising class sizes. Current parcel taxes don’t expire until 2022, giving the District time to rethink its needs and present a fairer, more affordable proposal.
The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers supported 2018’s Measure J as a 4-year urgent measure for a school district threatened by insolvency. With 2018 Measure J’s $5 million annual infusion, TUHSD hasn’t made the case for a much higher tax lasting 10 years. CO$T OPPOSES Measure B.
COALITION OF SENSIBLE TAXPAYERS Mimi Willard, President
COST Director and former Grand Juror
Retired affordable housing director, and tax oversight committee member
COST Director and former San Anselmo Town Councilmember
Parent of 2 Redwood graduates
Rebuttal to Argument in Favor of Measure B
Only a year ago, voters approved a $149 Tam Union parcel tax increase for four years. Now, with almost identical promises and threats, they say they need $190 more. It’s too much. Vote No.
Tam Union is already reversing much-touted expense cuts. Of two senior
management positions eliminated, one is being added back. Also being reversed: much of the $ 1 million savings achieved by ending non-classroom “Teacher Leader” payments.
Tam Union’s enrollment begins long-term DECLINE in two years. This should mean fewer teachers and administrators, not more. If Measure B passes, ALL $645 (plus 3% escalators) of Tam Union parcel taxes will be in place for a new TEN-YEAR term.
Yet Tam Union claims enrollment increases are why they need more money.
The truth: Tam Union’s 2020 pension expenses are $5 million higher than they would have been without a 2013 state mandate making local districts pay more for their pension liabilities.
The truth: $5 million annually is what the November 2018 supplemental parcel tax raised.
Moreover, the proposed flat parcel tax is unfair.
Measure B forces a studio condo owner to pay as much as the mall!
Tam Union’s parcel tax should be per building square foot. If uniformly applied to all parcels, that’s fair and legal for school taxes. The proposed Marin County Wildfire Protection Parcel Tax Measure, which the Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers endorsed, is essentially per building square foot
Tam Union has two-plus years on its current parcel taxes to reform spending and propose a fairer tax measure that ensures extra money goes into classrooms.
Help make this happen. VOTE NO.
SUSAN KIRSCH Community Organizer
TAMSEN McCRACKEN Parent of former Redwood student and lawyer
DORSEY McTAGGART Retired official court reporter
MARSHA HALLET Artist
WILLIAM ROSTENBERG Greenbrae resident
COST Endorses County Wildfire Tax After Gaining Significant Concessions Protecting Taxpayers. We recommend YES on Measure C on the March 2020 Ballot
The Coalition of Sensible Taxpayers is endorsing the countywide wildfire protection Measure C which would levy a $10 tax for every 100 square feet of building. Believing in the importance of wildfire preparedness and the likelihood that voters would approve a tax measure to fund it, COST advocated successfully for the per square foot approach because it’s fairer than a flat parcel tax charging a studio condo the same as a mall. We also led a successful fight for the tax and joint-powers authority to end in 10 years, rather than the initially proposed forever tax with annual escalators. We’re proud to have won important protections for Marin’s taxpaying voters.
CO$T Directors attended many public meetings and had multiple conversations with officials and council members throughout the county. We worked hard over several months to kill the perpetual tax in favor of a 10-year sunset.
A 10-year sunset places multiple guardrails on the JPA and the tax. It precludes establishment of a permanent bureaucracy with pensionable employees and long-term debt. Many workers will be seasonal, to the consternation of unions.
It the fire tax disappoints, individual fire agencies can exit at 10 years and/or voters can reject renewing the tax.
You might prefer having no tax at all. But it’s not clear that would have been the measure’s final outcome. We’re proud of our work on behalf of Marin’s taxpaying voters, which sometimes entails compromise.