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By Roz Rogoff

Where the money is

Uploaded: May 22, 2011

Residents at City Council meetings, Planning Commission meetings, and here in the blogs, question why the city needs to plan for so much development. Why can't we stay the way we are.

Often these are the same people who complain that the city pays staff too much or Councilmembers too much, or spends too much on benefits like retirement and health care.

Many more complain about their taxes going to pay all these exorbitant salaries and benefits, without really knowing where their taxes go or where the city gets its revenues.

A while back I wrote a blog on "Stopping the leakage," of sales taxes to Walnut Creek, Dublin, and Pleasanton. That's one major source of revenue for cities. We all pay sales taxes whenever we buy something in California, so it wouldn't cost more in taxes to buy things in San Ramon instead of giving our tax money to Dublin or Walnut Creek.

Sales tax is one form of revenue shoppers pay that doesn't necessarily come from residents but is used to pay our staff's and City Manager's salaries and benefits. Other forms of taxes or fees that go into our revenues but don't come from residents come from businesses in San Ramon.

Sunset Development negotiated a deal with San Ramon to wave their share of property taxes in exchange for building the Bishop Ranch business park here instead of in Danville. San Ramon took the deal because it meant all of the other income from the businesses there would be coming to San Ramon. These include business license fees, building and modification permits, and even sales taxes. While San Ramon doesn't have the large retail base of Dublin or Pleasanton, we have a large Business to Business sales tax base in Bishop Ranch.

So the big money that San Ramon could be raking in comes from sales taxes, building permits, business licenses, and tax increments on redeveloped properties that are reassessed at a higher value. That's why San Ramon includes a lot of redevelopment in its 2030 General Plan. It's not to push out existing business, but to enhance the potential revenues from businesses that could be there in the future. Those new businesses with new buildings would bring in revenues from building permits, business licenses, sales taxes, and property tax increments on the increased value of the properties.

These additional revenues would be used to provide the high quality of services residents get in San Ramon. The residents who are complaining pay a small percent of their taxes for benefits to staff while in return they get all of the benefits staff brings to residents.

New developments would be planned to look better, integrate into a thematic environment, and provide services that residents need and want. All of these are good things except to individuals who don't like change. San Ramon's future should not be held back by people who want to live in the past.