The ‘Emery Go-Round’ transit shuttle will continue to serve the city through the year 2030, after Emeryville parcel owners voted for a new parcel assessment last night.
With a resounding ‘yes’, 71.25% of parcel owners voted to enter into a citywide Property Based Business Improvement District, or PBID. Following the announcement of the results, a visibly excited city council took subsequent action to formally create the assessment district, in a unanimous vote.
“I’m glad the vote for the assessment passed for this critical shuttle service here in Emeryville, and I’m heartened by the margin by which it passed,” said Councilmember Dianne Martinez. “We all benefit from fewer cars on our roads and reduced greenhouse gasses.”
The new assessment removes the uncertainty that hung over the future of the Emery Go-Round. While there was enough funding to keep the system operating for one more year, Emeryville residents were faced with the possibly of an interruption or discontinuation of service in 2017 if the PBID did not pass.
Previous to the creation of the new PBID, the Emery Go-Round was funded through an assessment on commercial and industrial property owners, established in 2001. However, the costs of operating the shuttle had far exceeded revenue over the last two years, with an anticipated funding shortfall of $455,662 in 2016 alone.
The new special assessment district will now include a larger number of residents, anticipated to contribute 21% of the revenue to the district or about $250,000 to $400,000 annually. Other types of land use, such as retail, office, warehouses, and even city-owned parcels will all be included in the city-wide assessment district as well.
Assessments will be based on a parcel owner’s benefit derived from the shuttle, with criteria defined by land use classification and proximity to an Emery Go-Round route. Residents who live in a single family home near a 5-day-a-week route will pay $122.47 per fiscal year initially, while those in a multi-family residential unit near a 7-day-a-week route will shell out $111.49 per fiscal year. Increases to the assessment will be capped at 5% on a year over year basis.
Opponents of the assessment, including former Councilmember Ken Bukowski and the Emeryville Property Owners Association (EOPA), had argued that the governance structure of the service was unfair to residents and that there was still time to fix financial and management issues. The popular transit service is currently overseen by the Emeryville Transportation Management Association (TMA) Board of Directors, with day-to-day operations run by MV Transportation, Inc.
“A different assessment district could be created,” said Bukowski, in a previous FAQ about the PBID last month. “The city can collect the money and then contract for services with the existing provider of the service.”
The City Council will now be tasked with drafting and approving governance documents that will establish the by-laws of the renewed Emeryville TMA and determine the makeup of its Board of Directors.
The TMA Board currently holds 10 seats, with nine seats representing business interests and one vacant seat designed for a resident living in a building that is part of the 2001 assessment district. The revised TMA board will be comprised of parcel owners to pay into the district, equitably represented. E’ville Eye expects that Emeryville residents will pick up one more seat on the board.
The City of Emeryville now has five days to notify the County Assessor to include the new assessment in the 2015-2016 fiscal year assessment roll. Tax bills will be sent to Emeryville property owners in October.
In the coming days, the City is also expected to provide data on how residents and businesses voted. The E’ville Eye will bring you the City’s analysis when it becomes available.
This story was updated to reflect reaction from Councilmember Martinez.