10 Frequently Asked Questions About the New Atherton Civic Center
1. Where will the new Civic Center be located and what does it include?
It will be built at the Town’s current location adjacent to the historic train station at the end of Ashfield Road between Fair Oaks Lane and Maple Avenue. The civic center facilities will include a new police station, library, council chambers and administration offices to manage Building, Planning, and Public Works.
2. Why do we need new facilities?
The Town, with resident participation and input, has been studying the need for more than eight years. The existing facilities are in disrepair and have reached the end of their useful life. Remodeling these facilities is not a viable option due to overall space needs and cost. If you would like a personal tour of our Town’s current center, please contact George Rodericks, City Manager, at (650)752-0504 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please also copy Atherton Now at email@example.com so we may answer your questions.
3. What will it cost?
The Master Plan study completed last year estimates the cost of the new Civic Center project at approximately $30 million in addition to the funds we have in reserve. Atherton Now has set a fundraising goal of at least $25 million to build a new Civic Center.
4. How will this money be raised?
Private donations. Atherton Now, a non-profit 501(c)3, has been formed by a group of Atherton residents to raise the needed funds. The Town must depend on the community to invest in Atherton’s future. Our neighbor, Portola Valley, recently did the same thing when they rebuilt their Town Center a few years ago. For information about the highly successful Portola Valley project, click here.
5. Why aren’t we using property taxes to pay for the new Civic Center?
In 2012, the residents passed a ballot measure voting to primarily use private donations to construct and design a new Civic Center. While Atherton’s individual property taxes are high, only about 8% of what is collected flows back to the Town’s General Fund.
6. Why can’t we pass a bond measure to pay for a new Civic Center?
A bond measure might be an option if the private fundraising efforts fall short. However, the bond measure would have to pass with a two-thirds’ majority vote. Also, in 2010/2011, when this option was originally discussed, it was noted that the Town has never issued debt financing and therefore does not have a credit rating. This may make a bond issuance a challenge, as it may be difficult to achieve a favorable bond rating.
7. Will donations be tax deductible and can they be kept anonymous?
Yes. All private donations received by the Atherton Now campaign will be 100% tax deductible. Atherton Now is a tax exempt charitable organization under the Internal Revenue Code 501(c)(3). Donors will receive a letter acknowledging their donation for tax purposes. And yes, if a donor desires to remain anonymous, any contribution will be listed as “anonymous” in publicly available information. Tax ID# is 47-2222755.
8. What is the level of commitment within the Atherton Now fundraising team?
The Atherton Now fundraising team is dedicated to the success of this campaign. There is 100% participation by members of the team. In addition, each of our elected Atherton City Council members have made a financial commitment to the Civic Center project.
9. Is Atherton Now connected to the Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park fundraising efforts for the Carriage House in the Park?
No. The Friends of Holbrook-Palmer Park are the fundraising arm of the Holbrook-Palmer Park Foundation. They are fundraising independently to renovate the Carriage House in the Park, which is part of the Town’s Park Master Plan.
10. How does the Library fit into the Civic Center Plan?
The Atherton Library is currently located in the Civic Center and will be rebuilt as part of the new Civic Center. There are funds for the library collected over the years from excess property tax revenue that Atherton residents have paid to the San Mateo County library system. These funds are restricted and can only be used for library purposes.