A bill sponsored by State Sen. Jim Beall (D-15th District) would return money to Los Altos Hills and other Silicon Valley communities.
On a recent visit with the Silicon Valley Association of Realtors (SILVAR), Beall explained Senate Bill 629, tax-equity allocation legislation that would require the county to redirect approximately $2.1 million in property taxes to the cities of Los Altos Hills, Cupertino, Monte Sereno and Saratoga beginning in the 2014-2015 fiscal year.
Because of the current tax formula, the cities receive less property-tax revenue (approximately 4 percent) than other cities in the state (7 percent). Beall said he is working to correct the inequity by requiring the Santa Clara County auditor to revise property-tax allocation formulas and reimburse the cities.
Beall said the matter is a question of fairness, because the loss in revenue has limited the ability of some cities to maintain library hours and provide adequate road repairs and parks and recreation services.
“We’re trying to correct that and working to have their property taxes returned to them,” he said of the affected cities. “Let’s work on that together.”
Beall also shared a bit of good news during his SILVAR appearance. After years of deficits, he said, California’s budget is healthy, with projections of a $2 billion surplus for 2014. Beall noted that this time around, the state needs to set aside much of that money as reserves.
“We need to avoid the tendency to overspend and keep a rainy-day fund,” he said.
Beall is also sponsoring SB 628, a bill on infrastructure financing around transit stations. The measure would require municipalities that use infrastructure-financing district bonds for transit projects to designate a portion of property-tax revenue to increase and improve lower- and moderate-income housing in the district.
During his chat with realtors, Beall outlined additional priorities, including advocating a good state drug and mental-health policy. Specifically, Beall noted that the state should focus on recidivism, as 70 percent of offenders released return to state prison after only a couple of years. A good drug and mental-health policy would not only help offenders, but also communities as a whole, he added.
Beall said money spent on incarceration continues to rise at the expense of education, leading to state tuition increases for public colleges and universities, forcing students to shoulder a heavier loan debt.
“Many families have these problems, and that’s bad for the economy,” Beall said. “For me, making policy to fund higher education and limit tuition increases is good for real estate.”