Oakley City Council has Not voted to support a Reallocation of Property Taxes


Contrary to an inaccurate press release from the East County Voters group (ECV) and a misleading headline by the East Bay Times, the Oakley City Council has yet to take a position on a reallocation of property tax to help fund the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District (ECCFPD).

The City recognizes its role in staying engaged in conversations and evaluating proposals that could help improve the financial struggles of the ECCFPD; however, a property tax reallocation could have significant impacts on other public entities, especially to the local schools. For example, a reallocation proposal made by the ECV group would take over $5,000,000 from the local schools each year. The City Council would not vote on such a drastic measure without further conversations with the school districts and an open and fair discussion with the community about the impact of such a reallocation. Other public entities receiving property tax would have to also be involved.

Mayor Sue Higgins explains, “the City of Oakley is committed to being actively involved in discussions which explore improved funding and services for ECCFPD, however we have a responsibility to be prudent in our evaluation of all proposals. While we discussed the idea of reallocation, no action was taken. It is very hard to weigh such essential services like education provided by schools, to police services provided by cities, to fire services provided by the fire district against one another.”

At the work session held by the Oakley City Council on February 28th, the City Council agreed to send a letter to our legislators, as a follow up to a letter sent late last year by ECCFPD, asking for the Legislature to consider proposals to assist ECCFPD. Assembly Member Jim Frazier has submitted a bill request that will be later defined and the City Council also asked staff to extend an invitation to the Assembly Member and/or his staff to make a presentation to the Council when the bill is ready for formal submission.

The City Council did not vote to support a property tax reallocation.

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About Kevin

Mayor - City of Oakley, Data Center Manager of Mainframe Operations and Optimization – USS-POSCO INDUSTRIES, Co-Founder and Board Member - Friends of Oakley A Community Foundation, Advisory Board – Opportunity Junction, Commissioner - Contra Costa Transportation Authority, Board Member - Tri Delta Transit and Transplan
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8 Responses to Oakley City Council has Not voted to support a Reallocation of Property Taxes

  1. John Q. Public says:

    Hal, you are truly a fool, thank you sir for your latest demonstration.

    Your excuses are as transparent as your antics. You say I don’t deserve a response, right after you wrote a novel length statement trying to convince us how open you are to public participation. That’s rich! So many lies that you just can’t keep your story straight.

    It’s not so much that I deserved an answer, it’s more the case that you can’t deliver one. That’s right Hal, you got caught with your pants down again. If you can’t see it, that’s ok. Everyone else did.

  2. Hal Bray says:

    John Q. Public? Really? Your mother’s name was Mrs. Public (or, more likely, were you a bastard child?). Anyone who posts as John Q. Public does not deserve a response.

  3. John Q. Public says:

    @ Hal Bray
    You sir are a hypocritical individual that plays fast and loose with the public and what is called “fuzzy math”.

    Examples as posted here include

    “My response: Of course, this is always what we have advocated and what the law requires. No one would expect anything less than public participation and an “open and fair discussion”. We believe these discussions should have already started.” -Hal Bray

    You might want to explain why you and your group held your last meeting on 2/23 and it was NOT open to the public and public participation. This flys in the face of your comments.

    “Understanding the city’s budgeting process and the fire district staffing process we recommended a 3 or 4 year implementation. On a 4 year implementation plan the city would reallocate $36,217 in year 1, $72,434 in year 2, $108,651in year 3, and $144,871 in year 4 and thereafter.” -Hal Bray

    Mr. Bray it is obvious that you have no concept of budgeting. The fire district has a multi million dollar shortfall. 36 thousand dollars from Oakley and School districts that can’t and won’t participate leaves you millions short. Your plan is full of holes and lacks support across the board.

    The only thing you are achieving is offering up fairytales. I believe there is a long list of qualified and responsible people that have told you this.

    The problem continues to be your refusal to accept reality. You don’t listen.

  4. Hal Bray says:

    I am Co-Chairman of the East County Voters for Equal Protection, the group proposing the reallocation plan to fund the fire district. Bryan Scott (my Co-Chair) and I were at the council session under discussion and I must say that I agree with Judy’s post. I personally did not think a decision had been made, but only for a technical reason. That is, as Bryan Montgomery indicated, the item was not agendized in a manner that allowed for decisions to be made (and he was going to say/do anything to avoid a discussion about participation in any reallocation plan).

    Councilman Pope requested that the city put aside $45,000 in some manner to be prepared to participate in a reallocation of funds. He, or another city council person then recommended the letter be written (I don’t remember who and have not viewed the video). There was a discussion regarding the letter and I believe the council, if the item had been agendized to allow a decision to be made, agreed to have Mr. Montgomery draft the letter for their review to send. Mr. Montgomery simply wanted to stop the discussion and move on before anything substantial could be discussed in public. I believe the $45,000 decision had not been made, but was on the table for further discussion.

    For the record, our plan calls for each government and educational entity within the ECCFPD to reallocate 5.2% of their property tax revenue. Oakley received 2 property tax allocations in the 2015-2016 fiscal year, of $2,375,772 for the city and $410,216 for the Police Department, totaling $2,785,988. Therefore, the property tax allocation at 5.2% would be $144,871. Understanding the city’s budgeting process and the fire district staffing process we recommended a 3 or 4 year implementation. On a 4 year implementation plan the city would reallocate $36,217 in year 1, $72,434 in year 2, $108,651in year 3, and $144,871 in year 4 and thereafter.

    Continuing, Kevin says in his initial post on this our reallocation plan that:

    “The City Council would not vote on such a drastic measure without further conversations with the school districts and an open and fair discussion with the community about the impact of such a reallocation. Other public entities receiving property tax would have to also be involved.”

    My response: Of course, this is always what we have advocated and what the law requires. No one would expect anything less than public participation and an “open and fair discussion”. We believe these discussions should have already started.

    We also believe that without the school districts involvement, approximately $8 million in reallocation to open the 3 fire stations would be an unfair burden (about $3.6 million each, divided equally) on the cities of Oakley and Brentwood and the County; however, 5.2% from each entity is much more fair and equitable. And, if I were the city of Oakley, I would be on our side, fighting the unfair and inadequate allocation the city gets compared to other cities in the County.

    Keven also writes in his post that it is not right to ask the school districts for $5,000,000. Let’s look at the numbers.

    The six school districts in the ECCFPD boundaries are Antioch (small portion), Oakley, Brentwood Elementary, Liberty High, Byron and Knightsen; their total revenue (property tax and other revenue) total more than $427M. Our proposal would have these 6 districts reallocate $3,978,996, or less than 1% of their total tax revenue. If we add in the County Office of Education property taxes from its locations in East County, we add $595,660. Then if we add the Contra Costa Community College (Los Medonos) we add another $597,804, taking us to Kevin’s $5 million number, which is still less than 1% of their total budgets.

    So school districts, who get 42% of the state budget, have seen a 55% increase in funding in the past 5 years, and who are giving its employees large pay increases (Liberty’s pay increase this school year is 29%, 10 per cent in pay increases and 19% in employer contribution increases for benefits) and three of which passed Bonds in 2016 for approximately $200 million ($400 million including interest payments from taxpayers) can surely manage its finances, we believe, to contribute 1% of its total revenue to keep their students and employees safe and help the community fund fire and medical emergency services.

    Finally, it is our position that this is a community problem and should be fixed by the community as a whole, not just by asking taxpayers to pay the entire bill. The Fire District is funded by property taxes and the cities, special districts and school districts are among the largest land owners in east county and pay NO property taxes. They should help us solve this problem.

  5. John Q. Public says:

    *Sorry, it’s my first time posting here and I thought my comment would appear below other comments, not above. Thia is why i addressed my commeents to “above” instead of “below”. My mistake. Also my auto correct got the best of me in the last line which should have read-“It looks to me like it’s a combination of both”. Again my error and I apologize.

    It is actually that easy to write a correction and apology. Just sayin.

  6. John Q. Public says:

    These two comments above (Journalistictestinground & Judy Prieve) appear to be from staff members and possibly writers from the paper. If this is true, I think they should be VERY embarrassed and asshamed. Their comments come across as defensive and petty. It’s clear to anyone following this issue that the reporter completely screwed up.
    Rule one-reporters need to report, not create news and above all never print their own assumptions. (Assumptions should to be labeled as editorials).
    Rule two-have some fundamental knowledge about the issue that is being reporting on. You don’t have to be an electected official to know how to properly identify the city council, their roles and procedures and understand the role of a city manager.

    It was obvious that the reporter lacked the basics regarding political procedure when he filed his story. Any action by any governing board must first appear specifically on a posted agenda of a public meeting, the public must be allowed to participate, a motion and second must occur and finally, a recorded vote must be taken. Any deviation or absence of any of these items would disqualify any official action. According to California meeting law and Government codes-consensus or a general agreement by a governing board doesn’t count and would be found to be invalid. Apparently the City council knows that, the Mayor knows that, the City manager knows that and the legal council does too. If the reporter doesn’t know the basics they how can he or she be allowed to assume? This is why the paper continues to lose credibility. News is supposed to inform the public, not confuse or mislead it. Acting defensively and not reporting it’s own mistakes makes matters even worse. Trying to defend bad journalism by hiding behind a false pretense has absolutely nothing to do with what our founding fathers put into place. Obviously the reporter has much to learn about many things. He is in no position to be attempting teachings in civics.

    Here is my issue. Who reports on the reporters? I see that the title of the news article has now been changed. It no longer reads “Oakley bucks the trend” once you click on the web link. Also appears that the reporter has completely changed his story through an “update”. I guess the paper is above printing actual corrections and apologizing for their glaring mistakes? Or is this simply a local example of what President Trump refers to as “fake news”?

    It looks to me like it’d a combination of both.

  7. Well, after the press releases and clearly astroturfing a local blogger, I guess I should respond.

    Bryan Montgomery, the city manager of Oakley, is not entirely forthcoming with information regarding his recent press releases.

    1. City councilors agreed to write a letter that “mirrored” (Pope’s words), was “in line” with (Alaura’s words) and “echoed” (Montgomery’s words) the fire district letter.

    2. The fire district letter called on legislators to reallocate taxes.

    3. Montgomery said the letter would ask the legislators for help. He even sent an email saying the letter would be “similar to what the Fire District sent last year, requesting our legislators to help deal with the lack of funding for the East Contra Costa Fire Protection District.”

    Add those three together (echo) + (a letter) + (that asked for reallocation) = ……

    Any sane person would assume that would be requesting the legislature to help with reallocation.

    Montgomery has a policy of not speaking with independent media on the phone, only through emails organized by his surrogate. We had set a time (he picked a time really close to my deadline) that day to talk on the phone, but he did not call. I was left to scramble at the end of the day, because the email he sent was his usual vague, unusable denials, which I added anyways, since I had nothing.

    What I didn’t write about in my article was the fact that the city manager, who is the *agent* of the city council and not the other way around, was clearly pushing an agenda that was contrary to what the only vocal member of the board that day had said. It was only my ignorance that led me to assume the will of the council would be in the letter, not the will of Bryan Montgomery.

    Another snapshot of Bryan Montgomery came in my phone interview with newly appointed Mayor Sue Higgins. She informed me that she was next to Bryan Montgomery and that she had pulled over to the side of the road. In our conversation, she stated that the letter “didn’t say to mirror the fire district’s letter.” A clear contradiction of fact. She refused to say whether she supported reallocation or not and refused to say whether the fire district should even be funded more robustly. She hung up on me when the questions got too specific.

    I admit it. I made an educated guess there. By leaving me in the lurch without that phone call, I made the most sane guess: that the letter would actually mirror the letter they said it would mirror.

    Now if that deserves a press release, facebook post, a wordpress post from former mayor Romick, and co-opting the local troll’s blog, then that’s what you pay for in a mayor.

    This is why you need a separation between an independent press and government and our team at the East Bay Times is part of that checks and balances the founding fathers put in place.

    Now you can decide.

  8. Judy Prieve says:

    FYI, Kevin, the East Bay Times story never said the city “voted” or “took action,” just that it agreed to send a letter “mirroring” (it’s on tape!) the Fire District’s letter, which by the way, mentions “reallocation” or “allocation” of property taxes a dozen times. In fact, the district’s letter is all about “reallocation.” So if you are going to “mirror” or “echo” it, in Montgomery’s words, what part are you going to “echo” or “mirror?” See the Fire District letter at https://www.scribd.com/…/ECCFPD-Letter-to-Legislators

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