Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Blog #16 - Local Sales Tax for Fairfax?

What is a local sales tax?

A local sales tax is a tax to purchases made within the Fairfax Town limits on retail taxable goods. In California only durable goods are taxed. Food and services are not taxed in California. A typical time frame for a local sales tax is anywhere from five to ten years. All revenues collected from this local sales tax stays in Fairfax and cannot be taken by the State!!

Why does Fairfax need a local sales tax?

The Town is facing a $350,000 budget shortfall. The budget shortfall is a structural deficit that will have to be addressed later this year when the Town Council adopts the fiscal year 2011/12 budget. The causes are steep annual increases in health care and retirement costs for Town employees and declining property and sales tax revenues for the past three years.

Without making any changes to the expenditures and revenues the Town budget is not sustainable.

Pensions: The recession hit a number of investment accounts very hard. The State of California and most local government pensions were hard hit in the stock market crash of 2008. To make up the 34% loss to the stock market in 2008 CalPERS has raised retirement contributions for all public pensions by 6-15% per year depending on the exact retirement benefit.

Health Care: The cost of health care has been rising steadily for many years and is averaging about an 8 percent increase every year. This is not sustainable even in normal economic times because in normal years the Town adds about 3-5% per year in increased revenue.

What has the Town done to cut expenditures?

Many sacrifices by Town employees have already been made and more are needed.

Cost of living and other wage cuts: The Town runs a very tight ship (no frills), providing top notch police, fire, road work, park maintenance, planning, building inspection, code enforcement and other public services with smaller staff and wages that are below other salaries and benefits in Marin towns.


Wage Freezes and Vacant positions: Town staff have been on a wage freeze for three years, and currently have three key positions unfilled.

More wage cuts in FY 2011/12: The Town is beginning to negotiate with our bargaining units to give up even more compensation. New labor agreements will be in place this summer.

New Revenue Ideas: The Town has few revenue generating options. We have just raised our permitting fees to actually match what it costs the Town to perform the service.

Measure I: If this measure had not passed, we would have been in a really dire position and have to give up services that the public expects us to provide. The Town receives a small portion of property taxes (18%), which have been reduced through reassessments, while expenses go up. And we receive only 1% of the existing sales tax (about $330,000 per year) which has been declining for the last three years. The Town is trying to find ways to spread the burden around and not put it all on our residents and home owners. A sales tax is a small way to have people from outside Fairfax help foot the bill for the town they enjoy visiting and patronizing. We assume that merchants will not take this as a hit for themselves, but pass it on to their customers. One half of one penny on each dollar (about $150,000 per year and all going directly to the Town) seems easier to swallow than some of the other options that have come our way.

Public Input: If you have other ideas for generating $150,000-$200,000 each year, we are open to hear about it.

How can a local sales tax be used in Fairfax?

The local sales tax revenue generated could be used for general government services (such as police protection and services, recreation, youth and senior services planning, building inspection and public works maintenance activities) and for specific government services such as public infrastructure improvements and beautification projects. Infrastructure improvements include street maintenance and capital repairs, building maintenance and capital repairs, sidewalk, curb and gutter maintenance and replacement, and Town maintained landscaping.

A simple majority vote is required for approval of a general tax and a two-thirds vote is required for specific tax.


A local sales tax measure of one half cent would generate approximately $150,000 per year for the Town of Fairfax. A local sales tax measure of three quarters of one percent would generate approximately $225,000 per year and a one percent local sales tax would generate approximately $300,000 per year.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Blog #15 The Away Station; Peri Park Clean-Up

The Away Station

This weekend join one of the most innovative new Marin eco-institutions for their Grand Celebration of Re-Use & Creativity - The Away Station at Fairfax Lumber & Hardware - taking place tomorrow from noon to 4:00 PM. They are a great new resource to help us move toward zero waste. When you're thinking about throwing something away that could be used again, think about the Away Station.

The Away Station presents (at Fairfax Lumber & Hardware)

Saturday May 14
Noon - 4 pm

For Sale and Accepting donations of ...
windows tools
simpson tiles
household items
heating & cooling
kitchen & bath appliances
and much more...

(we do not accept or sell plumbing fixtures containing lead or lumber with embedded nails or screws)


Farmer's Market Returns

And if you haven't heard the news, the Fairfax Farmers' Market is back creating a festive environment every Wednesday 4-8pm.

Fairfax Volunteers Peri Park Clean Up

Saturday, May 14, 9 a.m.-12 noon

Peri Park is a haven for parents year-round with its many trees, fun play equipment and nearby creek. It serves as an informal gathering spot for those in the community. Our beloved park needs on-going maintenance. Please come and help clean the playground, spread new sand, and maintain benches. Sponsored by Park & Rec and Fairfax FOCAS. For more info, contact Maria Baird at 456-5652.

Fairfax Trails Projects

Sunday, May 15, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

As your kids grow, they may be less inclined to use the park, but more likely to be walking and biking around town, exploring the area. The Fairfax Volunteers have established a trail clearing program for pedestrian pathways. Help pave the way for shortcuts and more walkability through the neighborhoods. Meet at the Fairfax Youth Center, 16 Park Road for a brief orientation. We will then head out to a nearby trail that needs maintenance and get to work. Please wear closed toe shoes. Gloves, tools and snacks will be provided. Earn community service hours! Sponsored by the Fairfax Volunteers. Visit our website at www.fairfaxvolunteers.org for a listing of trail locations. Call Maria Baird at 456-5652 for info.

Chamber of Commerce Fundraiser

: Sun, May 15, 1pm – 6pm
Where: Peri Park - BBQ Area (map)
Description: Fundraiser for bike sculpture

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Blog #14 - Food Pantry Arrives in Fairfax

Volunteers Help Create a Food Bank for the Community

The Fairfax Volunteers have partnered with the Town, the Marin/San Francisco Food Bank and the Fairfax Community Church to provide a Farmers Market style food bank for the community. The Food Bank will provide free groceries including fresh produce, dry goods and USDA surplus foods.

•When: Every Saturday 10 - noon
•Where: Fairfax Community Church, 2398 Sir Francis Drake Blvd
•How you can help: Contact hollybragman@yahoo.com or call 456-5652

For more information, contact us at info@fairfaxvolunteers.org.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Blog #13 - Town Council Actions - May 4, 2011

Tighter Smoking Restrictions, Smart Meter Moratorium to be Extended for One Year

The Town Council at its regular meeting on May 4, 2011 introduced and held its first reading of an ordinance that will tighten smoking restrictions. On the residential side any building with four or more living units will require a minimum of 75 percent of the units (including balconies, porches, decks or patios) to be permanently designated as non-smoking. Landlords may designate up to 25 percent of their outdoor area for smoking. The ordinance also bans smoking in the entrances to any Fairfax building smoking is already prohibited including bars, restaurants, places of employment and public places. A second reading of the ordinance will take place on June 1, 2011 and the law will become effective on July 1, 2011. There is a 14 month grace period. The Fairfax ordinance is more restrictive than the second-hand smoke law Novato adopted in 2008 and slightly less restrictive than the ordinance passed in Larkspur last month.

The Council also conducted a first reading of an ordinance to limit the location, number and operation of medical marijuana dispensaries. The ordinance will limit the location of any new dispensaries to the central commercial, highway commercial or limited commercial districts of the Town. Some changes were made at the meeting to the ordinance around the issue of types of identification and auditing of records. A second reading of the ordinance will take place on June 1, 2011 and the ordinance becomes law on July 1, 2011.

Other actions taken at the Town Council May 1, 2011 meeting:

• Re-appointed Elon Rosenfeld to the Parks and Recreation Commission for another four-year term to May 31, 2015.

• Discussed the possibility of a local sales tax in the Town of Fairfax.

• Set the summer schedule for Town Council meetings for the following dates: June 1 (Regular Meeting); June 22 (Budget Workshop); July 13 (Regular Meeting); July 27 (Special Meeting on Sales Tax Proposal) August 17 (Regular Meeting)

• Adopted a resolution calling for the decommissioning of all nuclear power plants on the California coast.

• Approved a proclamation honoring Joe Langlois for his thirty-six years of service to the Ross Valley Fire Department.

• Heard a first reading of Ordinance 754, an ordinance to provide clean indoor health protection including the regulation of the exposure to smoke in multi-unit apartment buildings.

• Adopted Ordinance No. 761, extending for an additional year the Moratorium on the Installation of Smart Meters and Related Equipment within the Town of Fairfax or in, along, across, upon, under and over the public streets and places within the Town of Fairfax

• Discussion/Consideration of possible actions regarding the Town’s bank accounts in light of banking foreclosure and loan practices.

• Introduction and First Reading of Ordinance No. 762, An Ordinance of the Town Council of the Town of Fairfax Amending Section 5.16.130 of the Fairfax Town Code to Remove Real Estate Agents from Business License Fee Obligations.

• Approval of Invitation to Ross Valley Sanitary District to Discuss Proposed Rate Increase, Sewage Spills/Reporting, and Consolidation Efforts at June Council Meeting

• Discussion and consideration of Measure I Youth Work Grants

• Discussion of Citizens Redistricting Commission Public Input Hearing Saturday, May 21, 2011, Oakland City Council Chambers

• Discussed the possibility of a local sales tax in the Town of Fairfax. This item will continue on each Council agenda for many months as a continuing dialogue is held with the community on this important issue. The entire amount collected from a one half cent local sales tax would go to the Town and could generate about $150,000 per year. The projected Town budget for fiscal year 2011-12 will have a deficit of about $350,000 due to declining property and other tax revenues and increasing retirement and health care costs for employees. Some of the employee groups already pay a portion of the employee portion of the PERS system and discussions will occur in the next few months with all bargaining groups in Fairfax and with the Ross Valley Fire employees.

Other notes and announcements:

• May 12th, Thursday, is “Bike to Work Day”

• May 14th, Saturday, Peri Park Playground Clean-up, 9 a.m. to Noon, clean, spread new sand and maintain benches

• May 15th, Sunday, Volunteer Fairfax Trails Project Workday, 10 a.m. to 1:00 p.m., meet at 16 Park Road

• There will be no Teen Night on June 3rd.

• The Youth Commission will be participating in a Youth Music Showcase with Jack Irving on June 11th at 7pm in the Women's Club as part of the Fairfax Festival

• Applicants sought for the General Plan Implementation Committee, two community members needed

• Volunteer Board Vacancy to complete an unexpired term to September 30, 2012

• Vacancy on the Fairfax Youth Commission for Ross Valley youth between 14 and 19 years of age

• Register now for Camp Fairfax and exciting new summer programs– new FOCAS guide available

• Statement in honor of Paula Ross, Holocaust survivor

The next Town Council meeting will be June 1, 2011 at 7:00 PM at the Women’s Club.