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November 8, 2016 — California General Election

City of Belmont
Measure I Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

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Election Results


7,018 votes yes (55.2%)

5,687 votes no (44.8%)

100% of precincts reporting (16/16).

323,303 ballots counted.

To provide local funding for maintaining general City of Belmont services/facilities such as fixing potholes, repairing 69 miles of city streets, maintaining 911 emergency response, repairing deteriorating storm drains, reducing traffic congestion/improving public safety on neighborhood streets, shall Belmont enact a 1/2 cent sales tax providing $1,300,000 annually for 30 years, requiring citizens' oversight, independent audits, with all funds for local City of Belmont services and no funds for Sacramento?  

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

Impartial analysis / Proposal

City Attorney

Measure I places before the voters the question whether to approve an ordinance enacting a temporary transactions and use ("sales") tax within the City of Belmont.  The tax rate would be one-half of one percent (0.50%) of the retail sales price or 1/2 cent for an items that costs $1, and is estimated to initially generate additional city revenue of $1,300,000 annually. The tax would remain in effect for thirty years. The tax proceeds would be deposited into the City's general fund and cannot be legally taken by the State. The Measure's funds would be available to support the full range of municipal services such as infrastructure repair and improvement, 911 emergency response, recreation facilities, and other City services. The City Council placed the measure on the ballot on July 26, 2016, by unanimously adopting Resolution 2016-080. The full text of the ordinance is printed in these ballot materials.

Currently the sales tax rate on retail sales in Belmont is 9.0% of the purchase price. The City's share of the total sales tax rate is 1.0%. The remainder goes to the State, the County, and various other agencies. The sales tax rate will fall to 8.75% on January 1, 2017 when a 0.25% portion of the rate retained by the State under Proposition 30 expires. The City will continue to receive its 1.0%.

If approved by the voters, the measure would enact a 0.50% transaction and use tax which would increase the total sales rate on retail sales in Belmont to 9.25% with a likely effective date of April 1, 2017. The City's share of the total sales tax rate would increase to 1.5%.

The existing sales tax is levied on the sale or use of tangible personal peroperty sold at retail, with certain limited exceptions. Retailers collect the tax at the time of sale and remit the funds to the State Board of Equalization, which administers the tax. Sales tax proceeds from this measure would be levied, collected, and administered in the same manner as the existing sales tax.

Because this measure does not legally restrict the use of tax revenue to any specific purpose, it is classified as a "general tax", not a "special tax." The tax proceeds may be used for any valid municipal governmental purpose.

The Measure requires an independent auditor to prepare an annual audit report reveiwing whether the tax revenue has been collected and administered in accordance with the law. The report will be a matter of public record. The measure also calls on the City Council to form a Citizen Advisory Committee to monitor and report on how the tax is spent. This committee will be subject to open meeting laws.

Only the voters may extend the tax or increase the rate. The provisions of the measure may be amended without a vote of the people.

A "Yes" vote is a vote in favor of the tax.

A "No" vote is a vote against the measure.

The Measure will be approved if it receives a simple majority of "Yes" votes. 

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Protect our LOCAL services.  Vote "Yes" on I!

Belmont is a special place to live with an amazing quality of life but our infrastructure is deteriorating.  Belmont's streets are ranked worst in the County and in the bottom 8% in the Bay Area.  Vote Yes on I.

Belmont's 50 year old storm drain system is inadequate, flooding and damaging our roads during major storms. Some neighborhoods don't even have storm drains. Vote Yes on I.

Yes on I keeps your taxpayer dollars LOCAL to fund OUR needs and priorities such as:

Yes on I fixing potholds and repairing the worst of our 69 miles of crumbling streets and sidewalks.

Yes on I repairing deteriorated storm drains, protecting the environment and water quality by reducing runoff.

Yes on I maintaining 911 emergency response times.

Yes on I maintaining the quality of life services we all expect and deserve.

Yes on I provides a reliable source of local funding to address badly-needed infrastructure repairs now, before they become even more expensive in the future.

Yes on I helps ensure that visitors who add wear and tear to our roads will share thecost.

Sacramento has a history of taking Belmont revenues. By law, every penny of Measure I must be spent on our LOCAL needs and cannot be taken by Sacramento politicians.

Here's what Measure I won't do:

  Measure I is not a tax on your home or property.

  Measure I is not applied to food purchased as groceries or prescription medications.

Measure I includes strong fiscal accountability provisions including a Citizens' Committee to review and report on expenditures and mandatory annual independent financial audits by a certified public accountant to ensure funds are spent responsibly as promised.

Join a unanimous City Council, Mayor and your neighbors. Vote "Yes" on I.

/s/ Eric Reed, Mayor

/s/ John Violet, Belmont City Treasurer

/s/ Nelson Corteway, Immediate Past President, Belmont Heights Civic Improvement Assoc.

/s/ Ulla Foehr, Parks and Recreation Vice Chair

/s/ Alan Sarver, President, Sequoia Union High School District Board of Trustees 


Arguments AGAINST

Belmont officials claim there is a "crisis" and "emergency" requiring a sales tax increase. Yet the City's financial condition is the best it's been in many years. Expected new revenues are more than adequate to bring the City's infrastructure (mainly streets and storm drains) up to par.

Furthermore this is a general tax - not earmarked for infrastructure. The City could use it for any purpose. In fact, the City cannot legally say now how the funds will be used. We are giving the City a "blank check" which can be spent on employee salaries, pensions, and literally whatever City Hall wants over the next 30 years.

Belmont's financial reserves have increased by more than $6 million over the past six years to $9.7 million which could be spent on streets and storm drains.

This improving revenue trend will only accelerate in future years with new development projects contributing $2-$3 million more each year! This includes an estimated $1.5 million per year in hotel taxes alone from the new Marriott and Hilton hotels.

Belmont could raise another $700,000 each year just by increasing its hotel tax rate to 12% - matching most surrounding cities - with no added burden on our residents or businesses. 

Estimated yearly revenue increases from new projects include approximately $260,000 in property taxes, $231,000 from Crystal Spring Uplands School (CSUS), and $300,000 in rent from a new Clear Clannel digital billboard!

These new revenues are much higher than the $1.3 million the City expects to raise from this proposed tax. Increasing our sales tax rate to 9.5% would make Belmont's rate higher than all the cities in San Mateo County but one! This high sales tax will hurt our local retail businesses.

This sales tax increase is not needed and should be rejected. Vote NO on Measure I!

/s/ Timothy Strinden, Retired Federal Auditor

/s/ Dave Warden, Vice-President, Mid-Peninsula Water District

/s/ Tran Tran, Financial Controller

/s/ Bill Larsen, Retired Criminal Prosecutor

/s/ Gordon M. Seely, PhD, Professor of History Emeritus 

Replies to Arguments FOR

City officials use scare tactics - claiming that our infrastructure is deteriorating and in worse condition than it is - as well as "red herrings" and empty promises in pushing Measure I.

* Street pavement - Belmont spent more than $2,400,000 the past two years, enough to prevent further deteriorating per City estimates.

Storm drain pipes - the only ones deteriorating are the 5.5% made of metal, costing only $1,700,000 to replace.

Sewer Repairs - These are fully funded by bonds and not a concern

Maintaining 911 response times and quality of life services - These services are great with our existing revenues.

For street pavement and storm drains, expected new revenues will allow to steady improvements without raising taxes or hurting local businesses.

Measure I provides a false sense of security with an "Advisory Committee" to "report" on how the tax "has been spent." The term "advisory" is misleading because this committee has no role in determining how the proceeds should be spent! The City Manager bypassed the Infrastructure Committee this year in promoting this tax so it's likely this new committee will also be ignored and ineffective.

The proponents say there will be annual audits to "ensure funds are spent ... as promised." That is a wasteful duplication of existing audits and an empty promise as the funds may be spent for any City purpose whatsoever!

The City's "impartial analysis" was prepared by the City Attorney who may gain from this measure in salary and other benefits. 

Vote NO on Measure I!


/s/ Pam Rianda, Former Belmont mayor

/s/ Phillip E. Mathewson, Former Belmont mayor

/s/ Coralin Feierbach, Former Belmont mayor

/s/ Dale O'Hara II, Electrical Engineering consultant

/s/ Robert Krainz, Former Director, Supply Check 

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Don't be fooled by those against Measure I or their inaccurate claims. Our community needs Measure I to improve Belmont's roads, public infrastructure, and quality of life.

Measure I was carefully developed after listening to thousands of Belmont residents who have helped determine our community priorities.  Vote Yes on I to:

* start tackling nearly $40 million in street maintenance and pothole repairs to keep our streets from falling into further disrepair

* Address almost $57 million that's needed to repair our outdated storm drains and avoid flooding that threatens our homes, environment, and water quality

* Maintain 911 emergency response times

*Ensure that out-of-town visitors pay their fair share towards repairing our streets

Those arguing against Measure I should have checked their facts. They are WRONG about how much Belmont will receive from new revenue sources. They are WRONG about the tax rate, which would increase to 9.25% as claimed.

Measure I is not a tax on your home or utilities. Measure I won't apply to food purchased as groceries or prescription medicines. Those who visit Belmont will help pay for repairing our infrastructure.

Financially, Belmont has been a well-managed City and a responsible steward of the public's funds. Measure I requires fiscal accountability via a Citizens' Committee to ensure the money is used as promised.

Don't let Belmont's infrastructure continue to deteriorate. Measure I will help make Belmont an even better place to live!

Join your City Council and neighbors in support of Measure I.

Questions?  Visit

/s/ Gina LaTimerlo, Neighborhood Association

/s/ Michelle Kelley, Little League Board member

/s/ Thomas McCune, Member Belmont ad hoc Infrastructure Committee

/s/ Clark Velschow, board member, Belmont Redwood Shores School District

/s/ Warren Lieberman, Council member 


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