Family Financial Connections archive
Date: March 2015

03/31/2015

Palo Alto ItemsChallenge Paying Building Taxes To Water District

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For the previous four years, Palo Alto individuals have actually been paying taxes to a water district without getting a drop of water in return.

The building tax, knownreferred to as the State Water Job tax, is among three that Palo Alto citizens pay to the Santa Clara Valley Water District, the countys primary water company. The other 2 taxes pertain to the Clean Safe Creeks program that county voters accepted in 2000 and for flood control. Due to the fact that the water district is the countys primary steward of creeks and major flood-protection agency, the city does not contest either of these taxes.

The state-water-project tax is another matter. Palo Alto gets its water from the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission, as opposed to the water district. This has actually made the tax for the water facilities challenging to swallow for city Utilities Department officials, who have long been advising the water district to revise its financing structure. The City Council is set to dive into the concern later on this month, when it holds a public discussion on the subject and then follows up with a closed session to considerto think about prospective litigation against the water district.

According to a current Utilities Department report, Palo Alto residents pay about $1.6 million in capability taxes to the district every year for the water project. At the very same time, Palo Altos water rates are going up because of the rising expense of getting water from San Francisco, which relies on the Hetch Hetchy system. That system is presently undergoing its own costly upgrade, with the city paying its share of the cost. With the cost of wholesale water on the increaseincreasing, the citys rates are expected to enhance by 12 percent once more this year, according to the most recent projections.

Provided these expenses, Palo Alto officials have said for the past 5 years that the regional residents need to not also be paying the Santa Clara Valley Water District tax to offset the expenses that should be borne by other cities. Gary Kremen, a Palo Alto citizen and the owner of Match.com who in 2013 won a seat on the water districts board of directors, is leading the charge to eliminate what he considers an unjust plan.

On Feb. 4, Kremen took his argument to a conference of the citys Utilities Advisory Commission, where he found many understanding ears.

Imagine you were living in Palo Alto and you paid your apartment taxes, but nobody permitted your children to go to JLS or Nixon or Terman (middle schools), Kremen said. Thats type of the case here. No one is permitting us to obtain water from the Santa Clara Valley Water District.

He kept in mind that the northern part of the county has just 14 percent of the population and were paying over 25 percent for the state water tax for water were not provided and for these de minimis benefits, which mainly associate with preservation programs.

The energies commission didnt take any formal actions, but several members were more than a little stunned to find out about the long-standing plan.

I do not knowhave no idea how I was staying in Palo Alto for all of these years and didnt understand that I was paying a tax for which I wasnt getting any concrete advantages, Commissioner James Cook stated during the Feb. 4 discussion. If its real, its entirely outrageous to me.

Palo Alto isn’t the only city facing this dilemma. Steve Jordan, a board member at the Purissima Hills Water District (which like Palo Alto gets its water from San Francisco), revealed a comparable aggravation. The Purissima district, Jordan told the energies commission, likewise shares the joy of paying the state water budget tax and not getting any water. He also kept in mind that numerous years back, when the districts requires exceeded its appropriation from the SFPUC, it asked for water from the county water district and was denied.

Jordan said that his water district would be pleased to work with Palo Altos lawyers on the problem.

State law provides the county water district the right to impose capability taxes to pay for its commitments for the water facilities. But the districts choice to use this mechanism to spend for One Hundred Percent of these commitments has actually constantly rankled authorities who believe that a minimum of some section of the costs need to be collected through the water rates. That way, its the communities that depend on the water districts water that foot the supply costs.

So far, the city has little to show for its years of problems. In 2011, Utilities Director Valerie Fong raised the issue in a letter to the district. She noted that much like the regional water district, the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission will certainly likewise be updating its infrastructure and expecting its consumers to pay their proportionate shares.

It is bothering to envision a scenario where the residents and companies of Palo Alto might bear a disproportionate share of the concern by paying both via propertyreal estate tax and SFPUC rates, Fong stated.

City Supervisor James Keene made a similar point last month in a letter he submitted to the water district. The Feb. 10 letter urges the district to revise its rates to address the inequities in evaluating North County taxpayers the complete expense of a system that they can not and do not use, while similarly situated South County taxpayers are excused and the rest of water customers disproportionately benefit through subsidized rates.

James Fiedler, primary operation officer for the Santa Clara Valley Water District, safeguarded the practice and told the commission that Palo Alto benefitstake advantage of the districts programs, even if its not a water client. One project that the district is looking at is the development of an intertie linking the Hetch Hetchy system with the water districts system on the west side of the county. This wayBy doing this, each provider would be able to work as backup for the other.

There may be some possible advantage for Palo Alto and to Purissima Hills if such a system were put in place, Fiedler said.

He stressed that the tax can only be used to spend for the districts responsibilities for water gotten from the State Water Task, a system authorized by voters in 1960. He also highlighted the districts function in recharging the countys groundwater basin and in leading water-recycling programs. The districts imported water can be utilized to recharge groundwater, decreasing the possibility of surface subsidence and ensuring that there are groundwater materials readily available for emergencies.

Palo Alto has consistently countered that it doesn’t pump groundwater from its wells and hasn’t done so given that the 1960s, when it started its arrangement with San Francisco. A current report from Jane Ratchye, assistant director at the Utilities Department, likewise emphasized that the city owns its own emergency-supply wells, including the one recently constructed at El Camino Park.

At the Feb. 4 meeting, Fiedler defended the districts use of the tax and welcomed Palo Alto authorities for conversations about recycled-water projects for which the citys funds can be made use of.

We thinkOur team believe there is a benefit that Palo Alto residents get from that tax, Fiedler told the commission. However nonetheless, our board is dedicated to having an ongoing discussion to assist cost-share the growth of recycled water in Palo Alto as a method to really provide some equalizer that helps resolve some of your concerns and stability of water use.

Keene informed the Weekly that the city has a great relationship with the water district, especially on things like flood control, clean creeks and water recycling. On Feb. 25, Keene, Mayor Karen Holman and utilities staff fulfilled with water-district officials, and there was a clear interest, Keene stated, in moving ahead with water-recycling efforts and other projects that would be of advantage to Palo Alto.

However while Keene said the conference ended favorably, there wasnt a substantive shift in the districts stance on the tax.

Its still bothersome for us that the tax levied on our citizens is for something that we don’t receive, Keene told the Weekly.


03/31/2015

In A Nightmare Winter Season, No Dream Houses

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The record snowfall has declared another victim: the boundlessly optimistic realrealty agent.

Early March is usually a busy period for the states real estate agents, as they field calls from homeowners eager to sell and they stroll prospective purchasers through renovated kitchen areas, rolling yards, and marble-tiled restrooms.

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03/30/2015

How Cheating On Your Taxes Can Cause Jail

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Think you can get away with unfaithful on your taxes?

Think about the cautionary tale of Gregg Kaminsky, an Atlanta-area e-commerce business owner who ducked about $125,000 in tax due on profits from a secret Swiss bank account and from the virtual world known as Second Life.

Earlier this month, the 46-year-old papa of two young kidschildren …


03/29/2015

Property: Exactly What Is A Commission?

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Thorough Explanation of Commission

GenuineRealty commissions are how realrealty agents and brokers make money. They are a fee for the professional services that genuine estate agents supply to home buyers and sellers. Commissions are not paid straight to the realproperty representatives. They go to the brokerage that the representatives work for, and are often split with the broker. After the split, the representatives Mistakes amp; Omissions Insurance coverage, Business amp; Occupations Taxes, and other transaction charges are taken from the commission before the remainder is paid to the agent, most typicallyusually as an independent contractor.

Commissions differ widely, and are constantly negotiable. While the most common commissions in our existing market are calculated as a portion of the sale ratelist price, there are a large rangea large range of other alternatives. Flat fees, finished percentages, and hybrids of a number of commission structures are all offered to consumers and real estate pros as ways to see to it deals have appropriate representation and the reps are made up.

In a lot of real estate sales, the sellers pay the commissions for both agents– their own (listing representative) and the buyers representative (selling representative). In this circumstance, the seller indications a listing agreement which mentions a commission quantity that will be paid to the listing representative, and a part to be shown the buyers representative, if one is celebration to the sale. This circumstance can vary as well, though, so consumers should investigate what commissions they might owe to an agent or broker prior to getting in into an agreement.

How Commission could impact your genuineproperty transaction:

With commissions being flexible, and it being prohibited for realgenuine estate brokers or agents to price repair or set a conventional commission rate in their market, its always best to talk with the individual agent(s) you have an interest in listing your house with to findlearn their commission structure.

The commissions will, in mostmost of the times, be paid to the representatives through the sellers continues from the sale of the house. If there is not sufficient cash in the proceeds to pay the commissions, a seller would still likely be personally responsible to make up the excess as the payment of the commission is part of the signed listing agreement.

Home sellers ought to be mindfulunderstand that a genuinea property representative can make a commission sometimes, even if the sale does not close. If the listing representative brings a prepared and qualified purchaser to the seller, who agreesaccepts the sale but later on backs out without cause, the agent will certainly have fulfilled his/her responsibility to the agreement signed with the seller and the seller could potentially owe a commission. This is another reasonreason its important for home sellers to thoroughly read their contracts, and think about seriously whether theyre ready to offer their home prior to its time to put it on the market.

Want to knowNeed to know more about commission?

This post is for informational functions only and is not legal guidance. Purchasers and sellers of real estate should not rely upon it to make decisionschoose. Seek advice fromSpeak with a certified genuinerealty broker and/or realrealty attorney before making real estate associated decisions.

We have genuineproperty brokers, home loan loan providers, inspectors, title officers, and others who can answer your real estate-related questions. Offer us a call or send us an email and we can put you in touch with somebody who can answer your commission concerns or other concerns about home buying, selling, and the realproperty world.

Searching for more genuinerealty terms and meanings?
Try the Real Estate Terms and Definitions Guide

Sam DeBord is Handling Broker with Seattle House Group and Coldwell Lender Danforth. Our group serves home buyers and sellers in Seattle, on the Eastside, and throughout the Puget Sound Region.Explore Seattle

Houses, and Search todays newest listings from every business in Greater Seattle.


03/29/2015

Payday Loan Operators Press For ‘flex Loans’

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This Sept. 24, 2013 file photo reveals a sheet of uncut $100 bills as they make their way through the printing process at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing Western Currency Facility in Fort Worth, Texas.(Photo: LM Otero/Associated Press)



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