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Smart Voter
Alameda County, CA November 6, 2012 Election
Measure V
"FACTS" Initiative
City of Berkeley

City Initiative Ordinance - Majority Approval Required

Fail: 17292 / 38.60% Yes votes ...... 27511 / 61.40% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Feb 1 2:01pm, 100.00% of Precincts Reporting (101/101)
Information shown below: Fiscal Impact | Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

Shall an ordinance requiring the City to publish certified biennial reports of its 20-year financial obligations for employee/retiree expenses, capital assets, and "productive capacity of City services," the present value of those obligations, and the annual expenses needed to meet them, and prohibiting any new or increased debt financing, property-related fee, assessment, or tax absent certification of the report by the City Manager or other, independent professional, be adopted?

Fiscal Impact:
Financial Implications: Uncertain.

Impartial Analysis from Berkeley City Attorney
The proposed ordinance would require the City to prepare and publish by March 1, 2013, a Certified Financial Report ("Report") of the City's financial obligations for the next twenty year period for employee and retiree expenses, capital improvements and capital assets, and the "productive capacity" of City services (collectively "Long Term Obligations"). It would also require an evaluation of the present value of these Long Term Obligations and the yearly expenses needed to meet them. The proposed ordinance requires an updated Report be prepared and published by the first Monday in March of each odd-numbered year.

The proposed ordinance would require that either the City Manager or an independent professional who has audited a Report certify in writing that the information in the Report or updated Report is reasonably accurate and complies with the requirements of the ordinance.

The proposed ordinance purports to prohibit the City Council and the voters from incurring or approving any debt financing, or imposing any new tax, assessment or property-related fee, or increasing any existing tax, assessment or property-related fee, or scheduling any election to impose or increase any tax, assessment or property-related fee, unless the City has prepared and published a biennial financial Report and such Report has been certified, except as required by the City Charter or state law.

Examples of debt financing, taxes, assessments and property-related fees that would be affected by the proposed ordinance and could not be adopted, renewed or increased in the absence of a certified Report, would include, but not be limited to:

  • annual voter-approved inflation adjustments for special taxes (e.g. the library tax, parks tax, emergency medical services tax, etc.)
  • business improvement district assessments;
  • refuse fees;
  • sewer fees;
  • annual tax revenue anticipation notes, which are issued to maintain the City's cash flow pending receipt of property taxes from Alameda County; and
  • refunding bonds (to refund outstanding bonds at lower interest rates).

The ordinance provision preventing approval debt financing, taxes assessments and property-related fees absent a certified Report would conflict with the City Council's authority under the City Charter by delegating Council authority to the City Manager or another party who is a "competent, independent professional", and appears to limit the rights of voters and property owners under the California Constitution to approve taxes, bonds, benefit assessments and fees.

Arguments Submitted

Summary of Arguments FOR Measure V:
  • Berkeley won't be able to pay its future bills; it has at least $1.2 billion in unfunded obligations, which will grow if not taken care of properly.
  • V will give the City Council and the public a clear picture of Berkeley's long-term financial obligations and a way to plan to manage them.
  • The City has given employees too much toward their retirements and neglected safety net services, streets, storm drains, and buildings.

Summary of Arguments AGAINST Measure V:
  • V's enforcement clause creates significant financial risk for the City. If certification is delayed, even if it is not the City's fault, the City would not be able to transact the normal business of debt restructuring or bridging loans--the short term loans the City routinely takes -- at very favorable rates--to give the City cash flow between tax collection periods. V would not allow the City to respond to earthquakes or other emergencies.
  • The Council now requires two reports--on infrastructure and on employee and retiree costs--to do sound longer range planning. A 20 year report is just guesswork for the later years, so it would not help practical planning.
  • Terms are not defined and could lead to dispute or litigation.
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Full Text of Measure V

This Chapter of the Berkeley Municipal Code shall be known as The Berkeley Fiscal Accountability, Clarity, Transparency and Sustainability Ordinance of 2012 ("The Berkeley FACTS Ordinance").

Section xxx.xx Title of Chapter.

Section xxx.xx Findings.

A. The City needs to plan better for its long-term financial needs. B. The City needs to avoid short-term measures that worsen its long-term financial problems. C. Early planning for baseline expenditure changes is critical to ensuring continued financial stability. D. Years of limited funding and deferred maintenance have resulted in an aging City infrastructure that desperately needs replacement, repair and improvement. E. The City's projected revenue growth will not keep up with current and projected expenditures for City employees, and unless significant changes are made, there will be substantial decreases in available funding for vital City services. F. The City needs to reduce its unfunded liabilities for employee costs, physical infrastructure and capital improvements, better manage its expenditures, and set aside funds adequate to meet long-term financial needs.

Section xxx.xx Purpose.

The purpose of this Chapter is to ensure that a reasonably accurate evaluation of the City's long-term financial obligations is regularly prepared and certified so that the City Council, Berkeley residents, City employees and retirees, and City creditors have the reliable financial information needed for responsible budget preparation and evaluation, prudent City management, and sensible tax, debt and other revenue planning.

Section xxx.xx Report on City's Long-Term Obligations.

A. By March 1, 2013, the City of Berkeley shall prepare and publish a certified report (the "Report") of the City's twenty-year obligations for all employee and retiree expenses, and the City's obligations for prudent capital improvements of the City's physical infrastructure, capital assets, and productive capacity of City services (the "Long-Term Obligations"). The Report shall include a comprehensive evaluation of the Long-Term Obligations and their present value and shall include the likely yearly expenses reasonably needed to meet the City's exposure to such Long-Term Obligations. The Report shall include an appendix that clearly sets forth all significant assumptions relied upon in the Report. On the first Monday in March of each odd-numbered year after 2013, the City of Berkeley shall prepare and publish an updated Report that extends the period covered for an additional two years so that each updated report covers the next twenty-year time period (the "Updated Report"). B. At the time of its publication, the City Manager shall certify in writing that each Report or Updated Report, including its underlying facts, opinions and assumptions, is reasonably accurate and complies with paragraph A above, or in the alternative, the City of Berkeley shall have obtained a certification from a competent, independent professional who has audited the Report or Updated Report, and has found it, including its underlying facts, opinions and assumptions, to be reasonably accurate. The certification shall read: "I have read the report and believe the report, including its underlying facts, opinions and assumptions, is reasonably accurate and complies with paragraph A of The Berkeley FACTS Ordinance." C. Except as otherwise required by the Charter of the City of Berkeley or the general law of the State, after March 1, 2013, the City of Berkeley shall not incur any debt financing, or impose any new tax, assessment or fee, or increase any existing tax, assessment or fee, or schedule any election to impose or increase any tax, assessment or fee, unless at the time of such action a Report or Updated Report has been prepared, certified and published in compliance with paragraphs A and B above. The term "fee" includes only those property-related fees covered by State Proposition 218.

Section xxx.xx Severability.

If any sentence, clause, section or part of this Chapter is found to be unconstitutional, illegal or invalid, such unconstitutionality, illegality or invalidity shall affect only such sentence, clause, section or part of this Chapter and shall not affect or impair any of the remaining provisions, sentences, clauses, sections or parts of this Chapter.

End of Chapter

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