Dear Friends and Neighbors,
This November, we have a critical choice to make as a community— whether to impose an inequitable real property transfer tax that will cost each Belvedere resident $50K, $80K or more.
Measure D will diminish accountability at City Hall while unnecessarily and unfairly raising taxes and giving City Hall a blank check.
Measure D will remove crucial citizen oversight, accountability, and taxpayer protections. While our current city structure gives citizens the authority to approve taxes for special infrastructure projects with a 2/3 vote, the city is proposing a transition to a “charter city” to skirt this requirement and pass a general tax with approval by only a simple majority.
While proponents claim the revenue would be used to fund a $20 million infrastructure project, we project that Measure D would produce between $62 million and $92 million in tax revenue over the next 30 years. In other words, Measure D would give City Hall an enormous blank check.
With a state surplus of close to $100 billion this year, there are huge amounts available for local governments and infrastructure projects. Not to mention the federal government has sent billions of dollars to local governments with broad discretion on how to use those funds, meaning there is ample revenue available for city leaders to access and fund truly necessary projects.
Belvedere deserves accountable leadership from City Hall that uses their taxpayer dollars effectively. Belvedere deserves better than Measure D. Vote NO on Measure D.
ABOUT MEASURE D
Measure D will impose a 0.8% transfer tax on real property, meaning you will pay tens of thousands of dollars in new taxes when you sell your home.
Proponents of Measure D claim the revenue will go towards critical infrastructure repairs, but the actual amount raised from the tax will far exceed the $20 million estimated cost of the proposed projects. In fact, Measure D will likely raise between $62 million and $92 million to pay for a $20 million project.
That means Measure D is a blank check for City Hall to spend on whatever they please. With inflation at a 40-year high, this is a poor time for an ambitious and costly project that may not even be entirely necessary.
The City of Belvedere has changed its rationale for Measure D several times, shifting from a seawall project to combat rising sea level and/or flooding from a 100-year storm concurrent with a 1-year high tide, to road upgrades.
But the proposed tax ordinance does not call for the money to be used for any of these purposes. The money can be used for any purpose whatsoever, even for funding pensions.
Over 30 years, this Measure would produce more than $62 million in tax revenue – to pay for $20 million in intended projects. That just doesn’t make sense. The truth is, millions of dollars of our tax money will likely be used for things that we cannot even imagine, and certainly have not approved.
Measure D will diminish accountability at City Hall, because voters will have no say in how their tax dollars are spent.
Currently, as a general law city, a tax to fund special infrastructure projects would have to be an annual property tax approved by 2/3 of voters. To skirt this constitutional requirement, the city is proposing a transition to a “charter city” along with a general tax that requires approval by only a simple majority. The general tax can be used for any purpose that future City Councils may choose. This removes the taxpayer protection granted by the California constitution which provides that a new tax for a special project must obtain 2/3 voter approval.
Yes! The State of California has a budget surplus of close to $100 billion this year, with huge amounts available for local governments and infrastructure projects. The federal government has sent billions of dollars to local governments in relief spending. There is no shortage of revenue available for city leaders to access and fund truly necessary projects. Belvedere should revise this tax proposal to match the amount of revenue raised with the amount of money that is truly needed for necessary projects, after exhausting available grants.
While Belvedere is an island, it is not independent from the broader real estate market. Should prospective homebuyers face a 0.8% transfer tax, it could make Belvedere less competitive in the regional market. In Marin County, only San Rafael has a real property tax, and it is only 0.20%. The proposed 0.8% Belvedere transfer tax would place a burden on sellers and buyers alike; today’s buyers will eventually be sellers. Seniors who downsize or need to shift to a different type of home, may pay the tax twice. This will diminish retirement nest eggs and estates for heirs.
Yes. Let’s make necessary infrastructure repairs. Let’s just make sure that the tax moneys raised for those repairs are spent on designated infrastructure projects only.
Instead of charging residents $50,000, $80,000 or more when selling their homes, we could more equitably disperse the costs by levying a small annual tax to support the infrastructure everyone uses. With an annual property tax, commercial properties would pay their fair share, along with homeowners.
Federal and state funding sources should be exhausted before taxing residents.