“Reform Pacifica’s Sewer Tax” (center bold largest font)
by Victor Spano (center bold largest font)
Candidate for Pacifica City Council
In my travels around Pacifica as candidate for your City Council, the most frequent issue and complaint I’ve encountered is the sewer tax. Two recent letters and an article to the Tribune with complaints about sewer tax assessment underline the need to look at and reform the sewer tax. Proposition 13 was passed to keep seniors in their homes and protect them from tax increases. However, the sewer assessment is immune to the 2% annual Proposition 13 limit. Some seniors on fixed incomes, as well as families with low and very low incomes are suffering.
Council recently approved rate increases. Because we have lost trust, we wonder if what is collected actually runs and maintains the sewer system, or pays salaries for other departments or other expenses?
One individual at City Hall responds to public inquiries about their assessments. While this has worked, this is perceived by me as an incredible responsibility for one person, and an incredible amount of power.
I propose the creation of an Administrative Appeals Board, which would include the current staff member from Finance Department, an appointed resident, a councilmember (on a rotating basis), and perhaps the soon to be hired Assistant City Manager. It would meet once a month to review and act on citizen complaints regarding the sewer bills, where the resident disagrees with the Finance Department. It would be empowered to interpret the cities ordinances to provide relief in some situations, with a final level of appellate review by the City Council. Such Appeals Boards often are used in Code Enforcement, I believe such a board for the sewer tax bills would be fruitful here in Pacifica.