BY ALLISON LEVITSKY
Daily Post Staff Writer
Despite a number of protests from residents, Los Altos City Council decided Tuesday (April 23) to hold a mail-in vote about whether to charge property owners $1.1 million a year, plus inflation, for the foreseeable future for storm drain capital projects that have not been clearly defined.
At the council meeting Tuesday night, a 19-year resident who identified himself as Mark called the proposal “money in search of a problem,” as if city officials were saying “We just want $1.1 million. Then we’ll talk about what we’re going to do.”
“I think you guys are better than this,” Mark said. “I don’t think we need this tax. I think you guys have enough money to deal with.”
Ten-year resident Michael Thomas said he opposed the fees because city officials hadn’t presented any real goals or metrics for the money.
“It just seems to be an open-ended activity, and therefore I think we need to be much more specific about what we’re trying to accomplish,” Thomas said.
Several residents asked why the city couldn’t use money out of the general fund, pointing out that the $1.1 million a year only amounts to 1% of the city’s budget for capital improvement projects.
The fees would range between $72 and $117.59 a year for owners of single-family homes and condos, according to a report from from City Manager Chris Jordan and Interim Engineering Services Director Aida Fairman.
Owners of apartment buildings, commercial property and offices would pay between $57.24 and $65.69 per one-tenth of an acre.
The city would be able to increase the fees up to 3% a year to correspond with inflation.
Councilwoman Jeannie Bruins defended the fees, explaining that while the city does take in millions in revenue, it also has steep expenses to cover.
Bruins said the council had been discussing having a dedicated funding source for stormwater projects for years, leading to a stormwater master plan in April 2016.
Mail ballots will be sent out to property owners to vote on the fees. Ballots are due back at City Hall by 5 p.m. on June 18 and will be counted at 9 a.m. on June 19.