The Pleasanton Unified School District board decided March 5 to move forward with a parcel tax measure. Voters will be asked to approve a $233 a year tax that would help cover programs and positions being cut because of an $8.7 million budget shortfall. If passed by two-thirds, the tax would take effect July 1.
Superintendent John Casey said they estimate the special election to cost $200,000 to $230,000, based on a figure of $5 to $7 per registered voter. This money would be taken out of the reserves from the current school year.
The tax would expire after four years and its use would be monitored by both the school board and a new seven-member oversight committee that would consist of Pleasanton residents who are paying the tax and who are not employees of the school district. Seniors as well as those on disability could ask to be exempt from the tax by filing an exemption request and renewing it each year.
Registered voters, whether or not they own property, are able to vote on the measure. Businesses and rental property owners would be responsible to pay the tax, although rental owners could negotiate it into the rent.
The approved ballot language states: "To preserve educational quality and protect Pleasanton schools from severe state budget cuts, keep class sizes small, maintain essential reading and math support programs, libraries, music, counselors, technology instruction, music, and safe, clean schools with no proceeds used for administrators' compensation, shall the Pleasanton Unified School District be authorized to levy an annual $233 parcel tax for four years, with guaranteed audits, senior and disabled exemptions, an independent citizens' oversight committee and all funds benefiting our Pleasanton students?"
From the ballot language, the district compiled a cost break down of the programs listed, totaling $4,584,000. Estimating 20,000 parcels and subtracting the county assessor's office fee of 1.7 percent ($77,928), they arrived at $233 per parcel.
Board members, who voted unanimously to place the parcel tax proposal on the June ballot, said the funds are needed to lessen the impact of state budget cuts, which would reduce Pleasanton's funding by $8.7 million in fiscal 2009-10, which starts July 1.
The school district has held several meetings to gauge the public's opinion on the issue. It has also received hundreds of emails. About 250 attended the March 5 meeting in the multipurpose room of Amador Valley High School, where, as before, the majority of speakers said they are in favor of the tax to help maintain the current quality of education.
A group called Save Pleasanton Schools kicked off its pro-parcel tax campaign Sunday, with about 500 people packing Valley Community Church on Del Valle Parkway.
Currently, no one has put together a committee opposing the parcel tax.
For a copy of what the parcel tax would fund, visit www.PleasantonWeekly.com.