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The Municipal Services Tax

We are gearing up for a proposed renewal in 2016 of the Municipal Services Tax (MST), a critical source of funding for our ability to maintain and repair roads and to make sure we're doing everything we can to prevent fires. The MST generates $1.2 million in revenue annually, with $300,000 of that going toward fire prevention services such as vegetation management and $900,000 of it going to maintaining and repairing streets. In the 1980s, the Mill Valley City Council determined that existing City revenues could not adequately fund street repairs and began to look for additional sources of revenue, deciding on a Municipal Services Tax to fund street repairs on a pay-as-you-go basis.

The MST exempts low-income senior citizens and requires that all construction go through a public low-bid process. The tax has been a hugely successful funding source, allowing us to stay vigilant on both road repairs and fire prevention efforts. The total investment the City has placed in street rehabilitation projects over the past ten years (FY 04-05 to FY 14-15) adds up to almost $20 million; the MST accounts for $ 4.8 million or almost 25% of the funding for these important projects. Voters first approved the MST at $145 per parcel in 1987, with the MST attaining the required two-thirds support of those voting. Voters renewed the MST in 1997 at $145 per parcel and 2006 at a maximum of $195 per parcel. We hope you will continue to support this vital funding source.

What is the MSTMiller and Mt. Tam?
The City’s Municipal Services Tax funds our long-term program of street rehabilitation and fire prevention services, including:

  • Maintaining, repairing and improving streets (safety curbing and striping, regular repaving of most-traveled streets, and improving less-traveled streets).
  • Preventing wildfires by removing brush and vegetation, creating fire breaks, and improving emergency vehicle access.
  • Repairing and improving storm drains.
  • Restoring areas damaged by landslides.

The funds generated by this tax have improved the condition of city streets and storm drains, reduced fire hazards, and shortened emergency response times.

Background
In the 1980s, in a post Proposition 13 budget environment, Mill Valley City Council determined that existing City revenues could not adequately fund street repairs and began to look for additional sources of revenue to fund City improvements. The option they decided upon was the Municipal Services Tax. The tax was selected to fund the street repair program on a pay-as-you-go basis, thereby avoiding the heavy underwriting and interest expense associated with bonds. The tax exempted low income senior citizens and required that all construction be performed by independent contractors selected by a public low- bid process. The tax had a fixed termination date, and if renewed, would provide a financing mechanism to maintain the City’s streets permanently.

The original Municipal Services Tax was introduced to the voters in June 1984 at a cost of $270 per parcel at a time when the law required it to be approved by two-thirds of those voting. At the first election, the proposal missed the two-thirds mark by only 67 votes. The City resubmitted the proposal twice more, and on the third occasion, after lowering the cost to $145 per parcel and adopting a general tax ratified by a simple majority, the Municipal Services Tax was approved in 1987 and would be in effect for ten years ending in 1997.

In November 1996 California voters passed Proposition 218 requiring affirmation of the Municipal Services Tax by a two-thirds vote. The City reviewed revenue options and, despite the need to acquire a 2/3 vote to renew the tax, determined that using a Mello-Roos tax structure would provide a strong statutory basis for the tax making it less subject to legal appeal.

In 1997 voters approved the  Municipal Services Tax by a two-thirds majority at a maximum rate of $145 per parcel for a period of ten years.

In November 2006, the New Community Facilities District 2006 (Municipal Services Tax) was approved by a 75 percent “yes” vote. The measure imposes a special tax at a maximum of $195 per year for a period of ten years. The support by city voters will allow the City to keep streets and roads repaired and to continue the Vegetation Management program, which is an essential part of the City’s wildfire protection efforts.

Questions?
For more information, please contact the Dept. of Public Works at DPW@cityofmillvalley.org or call 415-388-4033.

Documents

Ordinance - Levy of Special Tax
Resolution - New Community Facilities District
Notice of Special Tax Lien

For Seniors 65 and over and to quailify based on annual income Senior Exemption Guidelines and Form

For other exemptions/credits offered by the City, click here

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Last updated: 2/11/2016 9:25:10 AM