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Parcel taxes don't have an expiration date

Original post made by NO ON G on Apr 26, 2009

There are two things that keep being said in these blogs - one is that other communities that passed a parcel tax aren't having a budget crisis, and a belief that Measure G is only a four year tax.

San Ramon, a school district often compared to Pleasanton's school district, passed a $90 per parcel tax in 2004 (this was after a first attempt failed). Taxpayers were told this was five year tax.

Last summer, the San Ramon School District attempted to renew AND increase the parcel tax to $166 a parcel. That attempt failed.
This May, San Ramon School District is proposing renewing AND increasing the parcel tax to $144 a parcel for a term of SEVEN YEARS.

If it passes, it will mean taxpayers in the San Ramon School District will have lived with a parcel tax to support schools for TWELVE YEARS.

PUSD is proposing a much higher parcel tax - $233 for four years. How likely is it that the parcel tax will end in four years? It seems much more likely that like San Ramon, PUSD will launch a spending campaign to extend AND increase a parcel tax if Measure G passes.

As one No on Measure C (San Ramon parcel tax) stated in the article below, "the additional money raised by the tax will just free up other funds for employee raises."

Even if PUSD uses the parcel tax money to support CSR (and there are no guarantees that will happen), using parcel tax money for programs frees up general funds money (also OUR tax money) to fund employee raises. Current estimation of PUSD certificated employee raises over the next four years is $15 million.

The attitude of PUSD and APT is that people in Pleasanton make so much more money than PUSD teachers, taxpayers should hand over $233 a year, no questions asked.

We should all be asking questions about this parcel tax.





Web Link

Comments (37)

Posted by Joe, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 26, 2009 at 2:54 pm

The problem with school districts and teachers is that they think they are the number one priority of any city or community and that they should be able to "go to the well" anytime they need to. But in my world, they are number 4 on the list. A well functioning city MUST provide for the welfare fo all of its citizens and to this end they should prioritize realistically:
1) PUBLIC SAFETY-Police,Fire (Paramedics)
2) HEALTH- Sanitation,Refuse services
3) MAINTENANCE-Streets, Sewer, Water
4) EDUCATION-Schools
5) ENTERTAINMENT-Parks&Recreation, Arts
I have lived in Pleasanton for 36yrs and the schools are always asking for more,more,more and if you give them more they will only want more. Its time for the schools to take their place as number 4 on the list and make due with what they have.


Posted by Russell, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 26, 2009 at 3:09 pm

@Joe

I would swap number three and four priorities, but otherwise I agree. Do you think that health and public safety priorities are under-funded?


Posted by Old Guy, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 26, 2009 at 3:55 pm

You're right, parcel taxes have a habit of sticking around and that's why the Jarvis people warn against them and why so many people in Pleasanton are so against this one. Many people don't know that the bay bridge fares were going to go away when the span was paidoff, but I'm old enough to know and now they are here forever. So vote wisely and remember that the economy will rebound and when it does don't expect the school district to return any money.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 26, 2009 at 4:04 pm

Russell, On the other thread you said CA doesn't spend enough on K-12 education (40+% of the state budget). How does that square with it being your third priority?


Posted by ChangedmyMind, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2009 at 4:21 pm

I agree with Joe, the schools are a part of the community but they are not the most important part. The Pleasnton schools are highly regarded becuase the STUDENTS are highly motivated. They come from homes where one or both parents are college educated and education is a priority. The school district doesn't make the students, but, rather, the students make the school district. I know this may sound like the "chicken and the egg" argument, but these kids will learn and they will excel without Measure-G money.


Posted by Russell, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 26, 2009 at 4:32 pm

@Kathleen

I meant that I thought the first two were funded to an adequate level.


Posted by Russell, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 26, 2009 at 4:34 pm

"There are no bad students, only bad teachers."

I think that was from The Karate Kid


Posted by TakeResponsibility, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2009 at 6:13 pm

I am sorry there are bad teachers and bad students. Teachers don't create students who participate in illegal activities. A teacher is with a student for 9 months, parents are with them for at least 18 years of their lives. Parents can take credit for their smart kids, but they are equally responsible for their naughty kids.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 26, 2009 at 6:58 pm

Russell, I'm sure some would argue the first two aren't funded sufficiently either, and you still haven't answered me about how much is enough for education.


Posted by Reader, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2009 at 7:40 pm

I've been following the tax blogs since before the Jeb Bing flap and the are informative, amusing, and sometimes irritating and apparently "Russell" has irritated Kathleen more than the rest of us.
Russell, you need to change your Post Name or just go away, becuase Kathleen is going to call you out on your "crap" everytime you post. Actually, even if you change your name she seems smart enough to figure out that it is the "new" you.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 26, 2009 at 8:26 pm

I agree with Joe's "more, more, more" observation. But it applies to all government, including his whole list. The government sector is rich, rich, rich, and swimming in taxpayer dollars. Who in the private sector gets benefits for life after early retirement?

Shut off the money spigot!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 26, 2009 at 9:03 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I wish I had the full statistics on this, but here's a clue:

"Although 122 successful parcel tax elections were held between 1983 and 1999, many of them occurred in the same districts. For example, there have been five successful parcel tax elections in Davis Joint Unified School District. The first election, held in 1984, authorized a levy of $45 per parcel for four years. Voters subsequently approved new levies of $91 per parcel for four years in 1987, $104 per parcel for four years in 1991, $120 per parcel for four years in 1995, and $114.36 per parcel for four years in 1999." From Web Link

I wonder if PUSD ever answered the person who kept asking if there's any districts that, after having passed a parcel tax, didn't put it up for renewal. Casey said the answer would be up on the website. It's been over two months now and I haven't seen an answer yet.


Posted by Russell, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 26, 2009 at 10:04 pm

@Kathleen

Are the first two under-funded? Crime rates are low, the streets are fairly safe. Crime rates are significantly down from the seventies and eighties, so the results there are good. Regarding fire and paramedics, I didn't know there was a problem there -- Could be my ignorance. Likewise, I haven't heard of problems with sanitation and refuse services.

For me, I would rather have bumpy, badly maintained streets and good schools than the other way around. I admit that I have a strong pro-education bias. That is all I was saying.

As to how much is enough spending on education, aren't questions like that always difficult to answer? How do we know we are spending too much or too little on anything? What metrics do we use? For education, I would say we're spending enough if K-12 students in California test at levels equal to the best students in the world. That would do it for me. We've all seen the reports of how much lower American students score on achievement tests compared with their counterparts in other developed countries. We are making progress. I'd like to see us beating them all out. Why not? If we get to the point that we're scoring better than Finland on average, then I'd say we've done our job.

Web Link
Web Link

I know money doesn't solve everything, but it is an important part of it. Throwing money at the problem got America to the moon in 1969. We are still benefiting from the many technology spin-offs from that endeavour.


Posted by Russell, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 26, 2009 at 10:35 pm

Along the same lines as what I was saying before, I think America made a big mistake when we cancelled the Superconducting Super Collider (SSC) in 1993.

Web Link

Now the Europeans are leading the way. Scientific research and education are in my opinion two of the most important things we spend public money on. Some polls show that majorities of US voters agree.

Web Link

Only a tiny fraction of the US budget goes to scientific research. Whether we need to raise taxes, borrow, cut other program or all three, to boost science funding, I'd be in favor of it. If we want to start a conversation on the benefits of it, I'd be happy to do it, but I think we'd be getting away from the Measure G discussion. How much would be enough? The National Science Foundation budget for 2008 was $6.02 Billion.

Web Link

At least doubling that would be a good start.



Posted by Joe, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 26, 2009 at 10:41 pm

Stacey (and others)...This is the main danger of the Parcel Tax as outlined on the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association web site-THEY DO NOT GO AWAY AND ARE OFTEN RENEWED FOR MORE THAN THE ORIGINAL AMOUNT.
Everything PUSD is doing is outlined; consultants, special election to insure low voter turnout, scare tactics, targeting sympathetic groups, flyers, etc. and all at taxpayer expense. Well intentioned voters who think they are "helping the kids" are being duped by professional election consultants. DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR TO THIS TAX, IT WILL BE THE GUEST WHO NEVER LEFT. This school district, or any government agency, will never learn to budget because they will not be able to do without this tax.


Posted by do it now..., a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2009 at 11:10 pm

What's wrong with the PT not going away? They money goes into educating our children and keeping our home values high.

We should vote to put even more money into our schools. In fact, we should subsidize our teachers lunch and vehicle expenses to help shoulder some of their financial burden.

Some money should also be put aside to provide no interest mortgages to our teachers!


Posted by don't do it, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 26, 2009 at 11:23 pm

do it now
When you make such outrageous statements everyone knows that you're just a chain yanker and they ignore you. If you really want to rile folks up you need to us a little tact, you know tug at the chain before you yank. Use a litle intellect as you approach the chain and you can anger more people.


Posted by Joe, a resident of Downtown
on Apr 26, 2009 at 11:59 pm

Its been written by people more knowledgable than I that there is a hidden danger in passing a parcel tax. Namely that given the current economic crisis in Sacramento, the State may choose to cut funding to districts that show a willingness to pass parcel taxes. And of course if that were to happen then the school district would have no choice but to extend and raise the parcel tax even more.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 27, 2009 at 7:34 am

Russell: "Only a tiny fraction of the US budget goes to scientific research. Whether we need to raise taxes, borrow, cut other program or all three, to boost science funding, I'd be in favor of it. If we want to start a conversation on the benefits of it, I'd be happy to do it, but I think we'd be getting away from the Measure G discussion. How much would be enough? The National Science Foundation budget for 2008 was $6.02 Billion."

So, you think science is a priority? Great idea! But you aren't going to get money for science K-12 in this parcel tax. Vote no on Measure G and the entire community can prioritize what it wants and where to spend it, be it math, science, or any other area. I'll get back to you on the other stuff soon.


Posted by ME, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 27, 2009 at 10:25 am

@KR
K-3 teachers teach science.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 27, 2009 at 4:20 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

They do? I thought they get a preparation period while the "elementary science specialist" teaches science.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 27, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

From the Jarvis website...

"Although most parcel taxes are imposed for a fixed period of time, statistics reveal that the vast majority of parcel taxes initially approved by voters are subsequently placed on the ballot by the local government in order to extend the tax. In many of these cases, the tax amount is increased in addition to being extended."


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 27, 2009 at 8:52 pm

ME, I wasn't arguing that science isn't taught. It was a response to Russell about prioritizing . . . part of a longer dialogue.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 27, 2009 at 10:02 pm

Hi Russell: The roads are in lousy shape; and a good book to read is "The Tipping Point" which takes a look at one possible reason crime rates are dropping. You might also enjoy reading "Outliers," same author, which speaks to accident of birth, opportunity, and hard work being the keys to success.

I'm glad you are pro-education; so am I. I don't know why you equate more spending to student success. I already gave you the link (Web Link) showing, with specific data from non-partisan sources, that we have increased spending, lowered class size, and aren't seeing the expected change in test scores. It is entirely likely there are sufficient funds, but where we are spending the money needs to be re-prioritized.

So, please quantify how much more you feel is needed, specifically for what purposes, and what might be redirected in current spending. It turns out, that's exactly what we are asking from the district about this parcel tax.


Posted by Russell, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 28, 2009 at 7:46 am

@Kathleen

I heard a radio interview with Malcolm Gladwell that left me thoroughly unimpressed. He was denying that there was any such thing as talent. It was all circumstance and effort. It seems hardly worth refuting that talent plays a huge role in an individuals level of achievement. I'll never be an artist. My brother grew up in the same family with the same parental encouragement and schools as me. His drawings and paintings looked great. Mine didn't. Still, some people whom I respect like his books, so maybe I should give them a second look. Does he really think that there is no such thing as talent, or was he just trying to be provocative in the interview?

Regarding those numbers, two people can look at the same data and come to different conclusions. I would say that money by itself is not sufficient at the national level to improve test scores. If you combine increased funding with other reforms like improved accountability you may see other results. I think more recent studies show that test scores have been improving when reforms are implemented in combination with increased spending.

Web Link

Web Link

"So, please quantify how much more you feel is needed..."

I have only a vague idea at the state and national level that more is needed. I don't have specifics. If we can get to the high achievement levels without anymore spending, then that is fantastic. I the same time, I don't think the link provided proves that more spending isn't needed if it is combined with other reforms. So, maybe we're not that far off on agreeing on this one.

"specifically for what purposes"

I would spend it on more programs like "No Child Left Behind". I would put back more fine arts and physical education programs. I would spend more money on vocational training programs. I would spend more on science labs. I think that if we could attract more teachers with advanced degrees in science (like MS and PHD level in physics, chemistry, biology and mathematics) I think that couldn't help but improve things.

Coming back to the issue of Pleasanton's schools and measure G, I think that we should not only spend enough such that programs and CSR reductions are not cut, but we should also be working on improvements such as more physical education and fine arts education.

Yes, for the time being I'm hostage to the PUSD demands. I'll be looking to get more involved and asking a lot more questions going forward.


Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2009 at 2:08 pm

Russell,

I posted this on two threads, because I wanted to be sure you'd read it.

I have decided I will support Measure G...If you will pay my $233/year.

If not, then stop trying to argue an emotional argument with those of us that are fiscally responsible and are not in support of this tax at this time.

Another poster on a different thread summed the logic of why we shouldn't support this tax: He said as an ER doctor he needs to locate the site of a bleed and repair it first. Sure, he can continually pump in new blood to keep the patient alive, or in our case pump in more money to the district, but unless the source of the problem is fixed, no matter how much blood or money is pumped in, it will not fix the REAL problem.

Your argument for weeks (at least) has been that we should support Measure G because "Pleasanton schools are SO good". Well, does the good ER doctor's example above become false if the patient is now the esteemed President of the United States or another very important person? No. Your shallow arguments have wasted a lot of people's time.

If you have something that is factual and can be verified as to why we good citizens should give more of OUR money to this problem, I mean school district, before PUSD locates the hemorrhage so it can first be fixed, then I want you to volunteer to pay my parcel tax for me. This is not an outrageous request since you think it is "only" $233 a year and it is for a "good" cause and the teachers of PUSD "deserve" it.

The ball is in your court. Let me know if you want me to support the measure and where the address of your "court" is so I can forward my tax bill to you.


Posted by Community of Character, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2009 at 2:21 pm

Support our children, our schools, and our community with only 64 cents a day.

Vote YES on G!


Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2009 at 2:43 pm

Community of Character -

You are right! We are on the brink of our children losing their education outright if this parcel tax does not pass!!

I'm SOOOOOOOOO scared for "the children"!! How soon can we vote to make sure this doesn't happen??? We should even consider building bunkers! Fear is always the emotion to base decisions on! Why didn't I see that??

Money is the answer! More, More, MORE! It doesn't matter that the district mismanages the money we give them and that ONLY 3.5 MM of the 18.5 MM that is generated by this tax will ACTUALLY go to the programs of the kids and then 15MM balance to the teacher's salaries. That is beside the point! Logic is over rated!! They DESERVE the money! And you are right to get us back on the right track!!

Who cares if they don't get it right this time and we'll need an additional tax to generate MORE revenues in the future?? The point is, we are selfish adults not in touch with reality like you are! You have won me over with your logic-lacking arguments and emotional manipulation about my own children and the poor helpless children of my neighbors like yours.

Thank you for setting me straight! I'm sure you are right and that this parcel tax will pass, because that would mean the majority of Pleasantonians are ignorant and emotionally led by the snout clowns. Thanks for letting us know what you think of the "majority" of your neighbors!

Actually, I believe, unlike yourself, that sound judgment and reasoning of this educated community will prevail and THAT, my friend, points to the fact that they will not be supporting this measure. Pleasantonians are just not that easily pressured or mislead.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 28, 2009 at 5:36 pm

Community of Character: Support our children, our schools, and our community by not spending $18.4 million that many in our community cannot afford. Vote NO on G!

Russell:
Mr. Gladwell has a particularly unique way of looking at data. He spoke with some very successful people who don't themselves credit talent as much as they credit hard work and opportunity, including Bill Gates. One data point is that if you spend 10,000 hours doing something, you're more likely to develop a talent.

I think people like to clang the accountability bell, for teachers and students, without really knowing what they want from it. And then if curriculum and teaching is adjusted to answer accountability demands, the same people try to unring the bell saying that students are being taught to the test. You also have to believe that the federal government should be in the business of education. And then there's that ugly little bit where very little money comes without a 3,000 mile string and a stack of regulations attached (shorter string to Sacramento, but just as many regs).

Now, if you could just take the money we already spend at the federal, state, and/or local levels and allow for more local control, you would see districts spending money in ways that are more finely attuned to the student populations they serve. (I would hope communities would be contributors in defining what is needed, and there would have to be some sort of minimal standards set for what students must be proficient at as they complete any grade level.) Students would flourish, and you wouldn't necessarily spend more money.

I'm personally a big fan of magnet schools—a voucher type program within the purview of public education. You could have everything from schools like Kipp Academy in New York (Web Link) to the Academy of Science and Technology in Texas Web Link (these are just two schools I know). Maybe one district needs a pre-kindergarten program, maybe another needs a way to teach English to parents whose children are learning English when they themselves do not speak it, maybe a community wants an in depth K-12 fine arts program, and maybe a district wants or needs many of these all at once . . . you get the idea. The only limitations would be our imaginations. And if the funding isn't sufficient, the community then can say what else it is willing to support with additional funding.

Where we seem to have a line between us is that I think we need to look at the whole picture first, determine what we want, and then devise what it will take to get it. You seem to be saying, and this is what I infer, that we should just give them more money and then look at the big picture. But it will be too late . . . they'll have our money for four years . . . and, trust me, they won't want to hear much from you or me or anyone else.

There are proposals that save CSR without the parcel tax. The district has not done its homework and a yes votes gives them an A+ via $18 million dollars to support work they wouldn't acknowledge from one of its students. Sorry to see you are so willing to give in to the demands without asking the questions first. Picture the horse strapped in facing the cart. :o)

You must know that most educators don't support NCLB. Voc ed, science labs, attracting PhDs with more pay for specialized fields . . . I'm with you. And see, this is the conversation we should be having . . . and can't.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 28, 2009 at 7:37 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

I heard that NCLB is a disaster for some districts due to poor district leadership.


Posted by Fabian, a resident of Pleasanton Village
on Apr 28, 2009 at 8:05 pm

I can see that people are so against any tax that they don't care their property values will decrease as the school system degrades. This tax goes to the school not Sacramento. It's just ideology over the real needs of the school. If there are operational problems then get involved and help fix them. But if the school needs money they should get it. Good schools, low crime, educated families and community involvement lead to a great place to live. They are public schools so the public must support them.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 28, 2009 at 8:25 pm

Fabian: Not against any tax, have said it repeatedly; right tax when clear data is presented. The school system will not degrade; property values will be fine--it's just blackmail. It's just facts over emotion of the threat of losing CSR. If the district needed money, it shouldn't have spent it all on raises and should have put it some aside (fiscal prudence) like the administrations prior to this one. Voting no will fix the problems because there will be no choice. The public is supporting public schools, and rather handsomely, already.


Posted by Russell, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 28, 2009 at 9:40 pm

@Get out of the wagon

I'm not asking you to vote yes on Measure G. I'm not here as an advocate, just a parent with a lot of questions and some observations. Feel free to vote against.


Posted by Get out of the wagon, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2009 at 9:49 pm

Russell!

Good to hear from you! :)

I wrote what I wrote because all of your questions seem to be directed at those who are clearly against it.

Your statements are peppered with how much more money you want for this district and I am in favor of supporting school with the monies they need. But "need" is an interesting word. Until the district can responsibly use the funds we give them, and also the proponents of G stop threatening us with what will "happen" to the district if we don't vote, there is zero discussion taking place.

If you step back and read Kathleen, Ann, and other's posts, we are calling for fiscal responsibility. As a parent, if you left your teenager your credit card and they ran up the bill and couldn't pay it and you had to, would you be likely to give it to them again? I don't think so. That is why I am voting "no" this time. I want to see some serious changes over at PUSD and until then I will not support any tax.

I hope you'll be swayed by the logic and non-emotional threats by the No on G side. It is important to send a message to the district that they aren't running the show and things need to be changed before we are in a real crisis.


Posted by Russell, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 28, 2009 at 10:00 pm

@Kathleen

You're the third person to recommend "The Tipping Point" to me. I'll have to pick up a copy. Sounds like he is saying something like "talent is overrated" rather than "talent doesn't exist".

I agree with what you said about more local control.

NCLB was a pretty bad example for me to pick.

You inferred correctly, that was pretty much my view.

"Sorry to see you are so willing to give in to the demands without asking the questions first"

It is being presented as an emergency.

I don't know the district personnel well enough to predict what will happen if Measure G fails. I don't know if it will it have a demoralizing effect on teachers and students. I don't know if programs really will be cut. In a way, it is a question of who to trust.


Posted by Practical Parent, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 28, 2009 at 10:21 pm

Fabian wrote "If there are operational problems then get involved and help fix them."

That is the very heart of the problem. I believe that there are problems to be addressed and that with aggresive thinking and community input, changes and improvements can and should be made. BUT the district will not take help!

You would think that Budget Advisory Committee by their name would have been given the full budget (plus a tutorial on how to read it) so that they could come up with suggestions when budget shortfalls were discussed. But that wasn't the case! Prioritizing what the district staff already came up with was their assignment. I think many on that committee would have liked the opportunity to dig deeper; to take a scalpel to it instead of a hatchet. But they weren't given that opportunity because the district doesn't want us common folks lookin' to close!

Voting down this Measure is the only way we can push them to the point where they will look further at ways to do things differently.


Posted by Kathleen Ruegsegger, a resident of Vintage Hills Elementary School
on Apr 29, 2009 at 7:36 am

Russell: Outliers is the book that addresses the talent issue. Tipping Point speaks to change and how it occurs. Blink is about people who can make decisions, big ones, without a lot of processing.

Presenting it as an emergency is the only way the district can use the emotional hammer (CSR) so that you don't think.

In this case, I would suggest you follow the facts and not the people. Did you say you have an engineering background? Would you build a structure that is pretty, but not structurally sound, and then just keep trying to retrofit it without analyzing the problem first? The district is not fiscally sound; it needs scrutiny before we give them money to fix it. There are ways to keep it whole during that process.


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