PRO & CONS – PROPOSITION B – June 7, 2016

PROPOSITION B – PARK, RECREATION, AND OPEN SPACE FUND

Charter Amendment

Placed on the ballot by the Board of Supervisors

Requires a simple majority of voters of passage

 

THE QUESTION:

Should the Charter be amended to extend the sunset date of the Park, Recreation, and Open Space Fund through the 2045 fiscal year, including funding set-asides; create an additional, annual baseline funding for the Park, Recreation, and Open Space Fund; and require the Recreation and Park Department to include equity analysis in its planning obligations?

BACKGROUND:

In 2000, voters established the Park, Recreation and Open Space Fund (“Fund”). The City sets aside a portion of the property tax, equivalent to 2.5 cents for every $100 of assessed valuation, for the Fund. The Fund will expire at the end of the 2031 fiscal year.

This set-aside funding is in addition to any money normally budgeted to the Recreation and Parks Department. The City is not required to budget any particular amount to the Department, and “normally budgeted” is not defined in the Charter.

 

THE PROPOSAL:

The proposed measure would extend the life of the property tax set-aside Fund to the end of the 2046 fiscal year. It would also establish a baseline amount for the Department of at least the amount budgeted from the General Fund in the 2015 fiscal year, plus annual adjustments. Annual adjustments to the baseline budget would increase by $3 million from 2017 through 2026. Afterward, the Controller would adjust the Department’s budget based on City revenues. The City would not be required to make annual adjustments to the baseline budget if a $200 million or greater deficit is projected. The baseline budget and annual adjustments would be in addition to the set-asides already paid to the Fund.

Proposition B would require the Parks Department to measure and compare services and resources in low-income neighborhoods to those available to the City, subject to Recreation and Parks Commission approval. All of the Department’s strategic, expenditure, and operational plans would be required to include this comparison analysis to help eliminate deficiencies. The Department would also be subject to an audit in the fourth year of every strategic plan.

The Board of Supervisors would be required to have hearings on the Department’s plans, but the Board would have no power to adopt, reject, or modify the plans. The Board would be allowed to withhold up to 5% of the baseline budget for non-compliance.

A “YES” Vote Means: You want the City to amend the Charter to extend the property tax set-aside for the Park, Recreation, and Open Space Fund until 2046 and for the City to create a minimum baseline budget for the Recreation and Parks Department from the General Fund.

 

A “NO” Vote Means: You do not want to make these changes to the Charter

ARGUMENTS IN FAVOR PROP B:

  •  The proposal provides for stable funding for City parks, which have suffered from budget cuts even as the City’s budget has grown. Proponents claim that over 20 million people visit the park system each year, and as much as $1 billion could be added to the budget for City parks under this proposal.
  • The City’s parks have a backlog of maintenance and critical improvement needs that this proposal could fund without raising taxes.
  • The proposal would ensure equitable funding and resource management of parks in every neighborhood.

ARGUMENTS IN AGAINST PROP B:

  • The proposition does not comply with a voter-approved, non-binding City policy limiting set-asides that reduce General Fund monies that could otherwise be allocated by the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors in the annual budget.
  • The proposition diverts the City’s General Funds that are otherwise discretionary, although funding can be suspended when the City budget forecasts a $200 million or greater deficit. This could affect funding for other City services. Opponents of the proposal claim that Prop. B would remove $1 billion from the City’s general funds over 30 years.
  • The Recreation and Parks Commission must approve the Recreation and Parks Department’s plans. Although the City requires plans to be submitted to the Board of Supervisors and the Mayor, they have no authority to adopt, reject, or modify the Department’s plans.

READ PROPOSITION C

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