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Is Town Taking “FUD You!” Approach to Tax Increase?

Residents Wonder If Entire Town Really Will Be Swallowed Hole (er, Whole) as in Engineer's Nightmare.

No, "FUD You" isn’t profanity. FUD is an acronym for Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt - an old school sales technique used to bypass the potential for rational objections, questions, comparison of alternatives, and time to actually think. “Act now or face certain [insert really bad thing here]!”


Are residents being subjected to a FUD sales strategy to grease the skids for a tax initiative?


Keeping in mind the declaration of fiscal emergency bombshell as a backdrop (which at least one learned citizen on Nextdoor's megathread and related ones has characterized as unnecessary, unwarranted, premature and without any practical effect), the Town Council recently approved $80,000 in consulting fees to pass a tax increase in an off-cycle, mail-in vote targeted for early 2018.

Some of the alarming messages from Town Hall during the past few months include:

  • Declaration of Fiscal Emergency

  • Broken Bridges we can't afford to fix*

  • Sinkholes (same)*

  • Risk of Reduced Services

  • Cutbacks of council and commission meeting minutes threatening transparency

  • Park Maintenance reduced

  • Christmas Canceled (resurrected at last minute, phew)

  • Triathlon Toasted

  • And now: Town at risk of being swallowed

  • Oh My!

*Note: the costs of the sinkhole and bridge projects will be 88% reimbursed by the Feds

The most recent FUD salvo occurred 11/8/17 during the council discussion on the Community Priority Survey and related Storm Drain Fee initiative (coming soon to a mailbox and wallet near you).

During this discussion, the Town Engineer characterized further storm drain deterioration as potentially “catastrophic”. At one point, reacting to councilmembers’ suggestions that perhaps waiting on a new tax because of residents' negative sentiments, he emphatically states “We are at the end of the life of all of our storm drain systems!”


Fact Check Doesn't Check Out

The 2015 Storm Drain Master Plan states “The overall condition of the storm drain system in Moraga is very good” (see Sec. 5-6 of the report) and identifies slightly more than 10% as needing near-term repair or replacement.


It sounds as if the entire Town is about to be swallowed whole, along with all the other potential "bad outcomes,” if we don't open our wallets.

Thing is, the statement doesn't reconcile with the officially adopted, third-party Storm Drain Master Plan.


Master Storm Drain Plan: here (see Section 5.6)

Town Engineer Comments: here (at 2:43:00)

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