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Letter to the Editor: Orinda City Council Candidate Comparison

Patch user Steve Cohn weighs in on the race.

It appears that the candidate postings for Orinda City Council has run its course with 25 comments on Smith's post (none by Smith), 108 for Glazer (25 responses by Glazer), and 179 for Delehunt (32 responses by Delehunt).  On a scale of "being willing to be up front with the voters" Delehunt and Glazer are pretty much tied while Smith is a distant last. 

Being selfish and limited in words here, I am only going to comment on the topics I posed questions to which include (1) Roads (Smith and Glazers main concern when they ran in 2008 both claiming "roads, roads, roads.") and (2) Emergency Services which consume more of Orinda taxpayer dollars than the entire City budget.

I asked the candidates what they thought of the City's Ten-Year Road Plan starting with the Measure L sales tax and continuing in a few years with two $20 million bond measures.

Glazer responded that he hoped the Measure L funds would be used in accordance with the current City policy of focusing on major roads that the great majority of driving is done on however actual allocation would be based on recommendations by the CIOC and discussed publicly.  As for the probability of the bond measures ever passing, he stated "opinion is always changing".

Delehunt said that Measure L will not address the road problem but that the City is suggesting that it will.  That Measure L does not even cover the cost to maintain roads in their current condition.  She further believes that the Ten Year Plan's two bond measures will not pass and thus "there is really NO plan in place to take care of the roads."

I have attended numerous CIOC and other City road meetings over the years and have spent countless hours acquiring and analyzing road data.  Delehunt has it right.  Our City Council (the effort on roads led by Glazer and endorsed by Smith) has failed us.  A fuller discussion on the Ten Year Plan can be found atwww.RoadToNowhere.info.

I also asked all candidates about the recently released Emergency Services Task Force report (www.OrindTaskForce.org) and the City's involvement or lack thereof.

Glazer said "the voters of Orinda created the MOFD. The City Council did not do this" as his way of saying this is the resident's problem, not the City's.  Smith said essentially the same in the press.  He did say "I will closely monitor the direction of the (MOFD) Board."

Delehunt responded " I believe an official Task Force should be appointed by the City Council that would focus on how to better understand how Orinda residents' emergency services needs are being met so that the Council can appropriately represent its residents in this important discussion."

Glazer is wrong: in 1997 the City went to the County and asked permission to form MOFD.  It did take voter approval to actually form MOFD.  On this issue I like Delehunt's willingness to represent Orinda’s emergency services needs.

Steven Glazer October 29, 2012 at 03:52 AM
3. The best estimate of the highest tax rate which would be required to be levied to fund this bond issue, based on estimated assessed valuations at the time of filing of this statement, is five and three-tenths cents per $100 ($53.35 per $100,000) of assessed valuation in fiscal year 2013-14. Voters should note that estimated tax rates are based on the ASSESSED VALUE of taxable property on the County’s official tax rolls, not on the property’s market value, which could be more or less than the assessed value. Attention of all voters is directed to the fact that the foregoing information is based upon the City’s projections and estimates only, which are not binding upon the City. The actual tax rates and the years in which they will apply may vary from those presently estimated, due to variations from these estimates in the timing of bond sales, the amount of bonds sold at any given sale, market interest rates at the time of each bond sale, and actual assessed valuations over the term of repayment of the bonds. The actual dates of sale of said bonds and the amount sold at any given time will be determined by the City based on need for construction funds and other factors.
Steven Glazer October 29, 2012 at 03:55 AM
The actual interest rates at which the bonds will be sold will depend on the bond market at the time of each sale. Actual future assessed valuation will depend upon the amount and value of taxable property within the City as determined by the County Assessor in the annual assessment and the equalization process. Dated: March 9, 2007. Radha Wood Finance Director City of Orinda
Steven Glazer October 29, 2012 at 03:57 AM
Go Giants!!!
Linda Delehunt October 29, 2012 at 09:06 PM
Steve Cohn that is... :)
Steve Cohn October 30, 2012 at 03:17 PM
Steve G - Appreciate the data and it appears that we basically agree; the projected cost for $60 million of borrowing in 2007 was a great deal that probably cannot be duplicated. I stated that part of the reason 64% of the voters approved of 2007's Measure E $60 million bond measure was that it would only cost them $150 per year. You replied the City never codified the cost to a resident. I found an Orinda News article stating Measure E would cost the average resident $150 (based on a $450,000 average assessed value and a bond cost of $33 per $100,000 valuation). You found the actual ballot language giving the cost to be $53 per $100,000, not $33, resulting in a cost per home of $240. (How 6,600 homes paying $240 per year, $1.6 million total, could pay off a $60 million bond costing $3 million annually in interest is another question.) Compare this to the current ten year plan of a sales tax ($100 per year per household) plus two $20 million bonds ($200 per year per household each), resulting in a total cost of $500 per household; twice as much as 2007's estimated costs. I still believe, with the projection that all of our major roads being repaired by 2017 when they were uniformly in terrible condition in 2007, that a 2/3 vote on twice the cost is so unlikely that to plan on it is unreasonable optimism on your part and to make that the backbone of a long term repair and maintenance plan is irresponsible.

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