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Voters approve 2 replacement parcel taxes with no expiration dates

Original post made on Nov 4, 2009

Voters yesterday overwhelmingly approved replacement parcel taxes that have no expiration dates.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, November 4, 2009, 6:00 AM

Comments (42)

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Posted by Old Timer
a resident of Birdland
on Nov 4, 2009 at 8:41 am

Parcel tax measures for Santa Clara Unified School District and Fremont School District (in Sunnyvale) did not pass.


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Posted by reader
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 4, 2009 at 9:37 am

op: the well has run dry here and we voted down a parcel tax earlier this year - get it? it is pointless to point out other communities that passed them. the whiny argument that "they did it" is just as convincing as my kid saying that her friend's parents are letting their kid go to a party unsupervised so why can't she? that has nothing to do with me or how i make a decision based on my own interests and abilities. i'm voting with my wallet now...my feet will follow out of the state if they have to. no more parcel taxes. no more state taxes. no more.


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Posted by Karen
a resident of Foothill Farms
on Nov 4, 2009 at 9:56 am

I would definitely take the 'no expiration date' to the Ca Supreme Court....that is in violtion of state law, prop 13
Right, many will continue the hike out of CA


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2009 at 10:01 am

"Parcel tax measures for Santa Clara Unified School District and Fremont School District (in Sunnyvale) did not pass."

However that news does not meet the thinly veiled PW agenda.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 4, 2009 at 10:06 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Karen,

The 'no expiration date' is increasingly popular and worrisome, but I think they aren't necessarily illegal unless they have an automatic increase tied in to them, which could violate the Gann limit.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2009 at 12:48 pm

A parcel tax in Pleasanton will play an important role in maintaining the quality of our schools. A parcel tax will, among other things, help us maintain class sizes and retain the best teachers.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 4, 2009 at 12:52 pm

Karen,

They don't have to leave the state, they just have to leave the school district to avoid a parcel tax. That way they can keep their current jobs, friends, and extended families. All they need to do is move to a community without a parcel tax.


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Posted by Original Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 5, 2009 at 10:13 am

The only reason that this would even be a "story" on the PW is because they want to push for a new parcel tax after their defeat. They had everything, money, org., and the "news media" and they still lost. They won't have those odds the next time.
You want more money for the schools...1/4 cent sales tax, city income tax, who knows, get creative but leave the property owners alone, they've already done their part to pay for those high salaries and insane pensions.


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Posted by geesh
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 10:41 am

To Original Joe (and others):

The story IS news...and not a push for an agenda by the PW.

In this day and age, any community that passes a parcel tax with such overwhelming majorities WILL MAKE news. Simple as that.


I congratulate those communities that decided to pass their measures. Others can be upset....(although since it does not impact them I can't for the life of me imagine why).

It's their community - and they decided. Good for them.

geesh...


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Posted by Original Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 5, 2009 at 10:47 am

geesh...Its the Pleasanton Weekly, not the Walnut Creek Weekly and if the passage of a tax makes the "news", then why didn't the failure of other taxes make the "news"? It all could have been part of one story if the PW didn't have an agenda to push.


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Posted by To Original Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 11:49 am

You and other people in Pleasanton are so short-sighted. What you are not seeing beyond the obvious is that EXCELLENT SCHOOLS SERVE THE ENTIRE COMMUNITY: from lowering crime rates and improving poverty levels to increasing property values.

Do you think that people would move to Pleasanton if the schools here were bad? Ask many of the residents who have moved here recently and you will find that they were willing to pay the premium housing prices to get their kids in the reputable Pleasanton schools.

You only have to look at places such as Hayward, Oakland, parts of San Jose, among other areas, to see what happens to a community that has failed to support their schools. Let the schools go and you'll see people leaving in droves.

Places such as Palo Alto, Cupertino, Walnut Creek, Piedmont, etc., who have all passed parcel taxes realize the value of good schools. Even our neighboring cities (Dublin, Livermore, San Ramon) all support their schools and have parcel taxes. Do you really want to make Pleasanton the pariah of the Tri-Valley area?


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Posted by Original Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:03 pm

I think I've heard this all before...yaddayadda. Its about selective reporting to push an agenda, and you call me short sighted.


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Posted by To Original Joe
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:20 pm

I agree that PW is biased. I think people here know that the PW isn't Pulitzer Prize material. That is not the issue. The issue is whether Pleasanton will support their schools.


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Posted by geesh
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 12:50 pm

"Posted by Original Joe, a resident of the Downtown neighborhood, 2 hours ago

geesh...Its the Pleasanton Weekly, not the Walnut Creek Weekly and if the passage of a tax makes the "news", then why didn't the failure of other taxes make the "news"? It all could have been part of one story if the PW didn't have an agenda to push."




Probably because the failure of a parcel tax happens all to frequently....no news there ;-)


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Posted by resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 1:11 pm

Pleasanton is already overwhelmingly supporting its schools. But it's beyond unlikely that the homeowners of Pleasanton would vote to supply extra funds to support the automatic raise and retirement packages in place at PUSD anytime soon. And if another consultant driven, taxpayer funded parcel tax drive is mounted, the public backlash will be much more severe than last time.


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Posted by To Resident
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 1:45 pm

Tell me: how is Pleasanton overwhelmingly supporting their schools? I really would like to know, after the failure of the parcel tax and the fundraiser.

And if you had done any research, instead of automatically jumping on the anti-parcel-tax bandwagon, you would have found out that teachers have not had raises since the 2007/08 school year, which amounts to 2 years without a raise.

And if you HAVE kids in school, you would already see the impact that the lack of funding is having on the schools. I am a parent volunteer, and I've seen how the addition of just 5 more students per class has affected teachers' ability to instruct. There has been a dramatic decrease in differential teaching: kids who are behind are getting the most attention, but that leaves the kids who are on track or ahead of the game getting the short end of the stick.

If your only issue is teacher raises, then you are going to have to come up with a better reason than that, because even if (and that's a BIG IF) teachers got raises for the 2010/11 school year (and that is HIGHLY UNLIKELY) that would acount for only about $1.2 million dollars. How are you going to make up the difference for the expected $6-$8 million shortfall for the coming school year?


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Posted by another parent volunteer
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 2:25 pm

And just how did we come up $8-$9 mil short in the first place? I am one of those who bought in P-ton at the height of the market - We MORE than pay our fair share of taxes and certainly about 3 times more than most of our neighbors. Maybe everyone who's lived here forever should have their homes reassessed and start paying taxes even close to ours....there's a start!


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 3:08 pm

To resident,

"And if another consultant driven, taxpayer funded parcel tax drive is mounted, the public backlash will be much more severe than last time."

You'll have to help me out with that one. How in the world do you define a majority (62%) of voters favoring the parcel tax a "backlash".

The state of California has let us down, not the Pleasanton school district. A parcel tax can work wonders here for ours schools, just as it is doing in Palo Alto, and many other good districts.

Your opinion is very much in the minority and I wouldn't be surprised if any "backlash" went in the other direction. We'll see on voting day because it will be on a ballot coming soon.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 5, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

To Resident wrote: "And if you had done any research, instead of automatically jumping on the anti-parcel-tax bandwagon, you would have found out that teachers have not had raises since the 2007/08 school year, which amounts to 2 years without a raise."


I call your bluff. Just because an organization created jargon (salary schedule, step and column, etc.) to obscure from the average person a raise in employee compensation costs, doesn't mean it isn't a raise. What you're referring to as "raises" that weren't given out is the COLA grants that the State sends out to districts. What you're misleading readers with is that even with no COLA grants, the district is still under contract to increase employee compensation based on years employed. Districts normally use the COLA from the State to fund these contractual obligations. We're all still on the hook for these obligations regardless of whether or not the State sends the money.


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Posted by Diana
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Nov 5, 2009 at 4:44 pm

Good response Stacey!
Do we really need to repeat the many lists of how Pleasanton supports PUSD?
More than 155 million that we continue to pay on our property taxes to PUSD.
Tens of millions in developer fees.
Classroom fees, supply fees, fundraisers, donations, sports fees, band fees, joint use fees from the City, loans from the City the list goes on.
The cuts from the state were made up in federal stimulus dollars.
The only real shortfall was due to staff raises called step and column.
The community has not let PUSD down, PUSD has let the community down!!!!!

I do have kids in the district.


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Posted by Another Parent
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 4:54 pm

"And just how did we come up $8-$9 mil short in the first place? I am one of those who bought in P-ton at the height of the market - We MORE than pay our fair share of taxes and certainly about 3 times more than most of our neighbors. Maybe everyone who's lived here forever should have their homes reassessed and start paying taxes even close to ours....there's a start!"

Right on. This is my family to a T. Unfair, excessive taxation. I'm all about everyone else seeing their property taxes increase until they reach the level we're currently paying out. I bet tunes would change quickly.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Diana,

"The cuts from the state were made up in federal stimulus dollars.

The only real shortfall was due to staff raises called step and column."

Where did you get that idea? The cuts were in no way completely made up by federal stimulus dollars. I'll call your bluff. That is just wrong.


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Posted by Original Joe
a resident of Downtown
on Nov 5, 2009 at 5:05 pm

Nothing brings them out of the woodwork like a discussion about TAXES and the schools. I was getting tired of ObamaCare, its good that we get back to US; i.e, US-Pleasanton.


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Posted by out of cash!
a resident of Country Fair
on Nov 5, 2009 at 5:33 pm

I already pay enough for my "parcel" - sorry people! I bet you didn't buy your home in the last 5 years, did you? I'm all for good schools but a good lesson in cutting costs and balancing budgets never hurt anyone.


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Posted by Diana
a resident of Amador Valley High School
on Nov 5, 2009 at 5:48 pm

a reader,

In June it was reaserched and documented, if the numbers have changed since you provide the information. You do not seem well informed if you don't understand that the parcel tax was defeated because the entire amount would have been used for staff raises over the term of the tax. Those raises were give anyway, consequently there was a shortfall and other things needed to get cut. There will be more raises, so there will be more cuts.

While I do beleive the cuts from the state will continue a parcel tax will not pass in Pleasanton untill the community can trust the district!!!!


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Posted by to Diana
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 7:30 pm

I am calling YOUR bluff and would like to see where you get your numbers. I would like to see your proof that "raises were given" and that the entire amount of the parcel tax would have gone to "raises". Both of these statements have been debunked in the past. So tell me, where did you get your latest info?

You have already posted wrong information regarding the federal stimulus dollars. Talk about trust: how can there be trust between the community and PUSD if there is all this false information being posted?


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 8:50 pm

I have to agree with the second Diana. The first Diana makes a statement like it is fact when it is clearly wrong. It would be like someone saying teachers in Pleasanton took a 20% overall pay cut last year. So we really want to cut teacher's pay by that much? Shouldn't we give some back? And that includes step and column. Even factoring in the increases from step and column the net pay of any individual teacher will go down by 20% this year. That is just too much of a pay cut. And remember that is with step and column factored in.


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Posted by Get Educated
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 9:45 pm

"Just because an organization created jargon (salary schedule, step and column, etc.) to obscure from the average person a raise in employee compensation costs, doesn't mean it isn't a raise."

You may not understand Step and Column or agree with the way all the public school employees are paid in California, but this system has been in place for decades.

I have never heard such misrepresentation about what it is, why it is used in public schools, and how it works as I hear posted on this site.

Out of a thirty year career, a teacher will only move steps 15 times. The rest of the years are "frozen" years. To state that teachers are getting a yearly raise is simply wrong. To move across the columns teachers have to personally pay for units taken at a University.

If you would like to see reform of this system, take it to the state level where it was implemented. To use it as a way to punish our local schools is shortsighted and an avoidance of the real issues at hand.

I congratulate these communities for finding local solutions to the crisis of school funding in California. PUSD cut $12.5 million from the budget last year and mid year cuts are on the way. We are talking proportions that don't even logically fit with complaints about cell phones, and lunches out, or even a reserve budget goal.

I wonder, is this community really ok with what these cuts are doing to the quality of the schools here in Pleasanton? Does this community even know or understand what has changed? Go to PTA meetings, School site council meetings, school board meetings....the opportunity to be involved with funding decisions in our schools is available and taking place daily in this town.


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Posted by Enough is Enough
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 11:19 pm

Enough is enough... after learning that ALL STATE EMPLOYEES get an automatic 5% raise EVERY YEAR no matter what happens... It's written in their union contracts. There WILL BE NOT MORE PARCEL TAX or any other TAX until everyone gets the same treatment! So ENOUGH IS ENOUGH! I DARE anyone to challenge this statement!


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Posted by Highly Educated
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 5, 2009 at 11:20 pm

Actually we are talking about a system that allows the employees to control their own pay raise schedule, includes a generous union pension plan, has union protection that makes it almost impossible to remove poor performers, and pays astonishingly well for part time employment. It seems the more the public "gets educated", the less likely they are to reach deeper into their pockets at this time.
No to your parcel tax … find a new tune.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 6, 2009 at 12:09 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Get Educated wrote: "To state that teachers are getting a yearly raise is simply wrong."

No one made that statement. You're confusing my statement about the yearly increase in total employee compensation costs with what individual teachers receive. The District even admits these costs increase yearly on average by $2MM and calls them costs to "rollover the budget". The District usually funds this with COLA given by the State and when the State doesn't fund it, where does the money come from?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 6, 2009 at 12:16 am

Stacey is a registered user.

I wrote: "You're confusing my statement about the yearly increase in total employee compensation costs with what individual teachers receive"

Edit: You're confusing my statement about the yearly increase in total employee compensation costs with your desire to focus on what individual teachers receive.

But budget problems are never about what Mr. X nor what Mrs. Y receives. Such problems are caused by TOTAL expenses minus total revenue and the management's ability (or lack thereof) to be financially prepared to deal with it. If they're not, well then they try to raise taxes or they have to cut into programs in order to maintain staff or they have to layoff staff.


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Posted by To Enough is Enough
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2009 at 9:33 pm

"5% raise EVERY YEAR no matter what "

You completely made that up. There is no truth to that at all. That wasn't a very difficult challenge. No go out and support the parcel tax. You'll be glad you did.


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Posted by To "Highly Educated"
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2009 at 9:37 pm

The parcel tax won't be about any of that. It will be about restoring programs that have been cut and maintaining quality education for Pleasanton's children. Let's turn that negative energy into positive energy and go out and support the parcel tax.


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Posted by Like PP said
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2009 at 2:15 pm

Pleasanton residents, it's all about community . If you don't believe that education is the responsibility of the entire community, just as providing food for the hungry or support for seniors, then you aren't very highly educated.


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Posted by Beth
a resident of Del Prado
on Nov 10, 2009 at 12:38 am

"…it's all about community"

Yeah, not so much. We have close to the highest sales tax in the nation. We have close to the highest property tax in the nation. We have close to the highest unemployment in the nation. And we have undisputedly the best public employee retirement packages in the nation. And yet the trough is empty. Though the public service unions consistently shout "it's for the little people" we are really talking about additional taxes to continue feeding the machine. It is time that the public sector makes some adjustments in their spending. That's what the rest of us are doing.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2009 at 8:54 am

To Beth,

"We have close to the highest property tax in the nation. "

That is just completely wrong. We have the nearly the lowest property tax in the nation.

Web Link

That is the result of proposition 13. Do you ever do you homework? Why do you post this nonsense. It is just completely wrong.

Because public schools are funded by property taxes, California allows parcel taxes to compensate for declining revenue caused by proposition 13. This isn't about protecting some sort of political machine, this is about maintaining the quality of our schools. All of the best school districts in the Bay Area, like Palo Alto, have used them with excellent results.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 10, 2009 at 9:39 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Fun with numbers. Try dollar amounts, not tax rate. High housing values cancel out lower tax rates. While we don't have the highest in the nation, we're certainly not nearly the lowest either.

Web Link

"The top 10 states in median real estate taxes paid for 2008 are, from 1 to 10, New Jersey ($6,320); Connecticut ($4,603); New Hampshire ($4,501); New York ($3,622); Rhode Island ($3,534); Massachusetts ($3,406); Illinois ($3,384); Vermont ($3,281); Wisconsin ($2,963); and California ($2,829)."

But there's a bigger picture than property taxes alone. The State education budget is not made up entirely of property taxes. Most of the education budget comes from the General Fund. California has some of the highest sales and income taxes in the nation. Those also cancel out any benefit received from a lower property tax rate.

Web Link

Also comparing Palo Alto to PUSD funding is not easy because Palo Alto is a basic aid district afaik. They don't take money from the State like PUSD does and such districts also tend to keep higher reserve levels.


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2009 at 12:29 pm

Stacey,

You said "Try dollar amounts, not tax rate". Why would you do that? That isn't a very useful way of looking at taxes. It is the tax rate that is important, not the dollar amount. If we use dollar amounts instead of tax rates we might conclude (wrongly) that Sweden has lower income taxes than the US. Even using total dollars rather than tax rates, we don't have have the highest property, so we both disagree with what Beth said above.

To reiterate, California has among the lowest property taxes in the country. That is the result of Proposition 13.

Here is a document explaining some of the issues with parcel taxes and Prop 13.

Web Link

You said:

"Those also cancel out any benefit received from a lower property tax rate."

You've said that without any justification or any documentation showing what portion of sales tax goes to PUSD and how much loss of property tax it cancels. Even if it were true, my post said nothing about sales tax; It was about property tax which is quite low in California. Beth was just wrong in her post.

You said "Also comparing Palo Alto to PUSD funding is not easy ..." I don't agree on the basic principle there but OK, compare ANY other high quality district with PUSD, and they ALL needed and have enacted parcel taxes.

It sounds like Beth would oppose the parcel taxes in all these other districts, just on principle. I'm hoping that is not the case for you. I'm hoping in the future you'll be using some of your energy to get a parcel tax on the ballot and get it passed.


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 10, 2009 at 1:32 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

a reader wrote: "Even using total dollars rather than tax rates, we don't have have the highest property"

Right, but we don't have the lowest either.

As for looking at the bigger revenue picture: Web Link You'll see that property taxes doesn't make up a big piece of pie. It's about 22% total while 52% is from sales and income taxes. That's why trying to discuss property taxes in a vacuum doesn't work too well.

"Total estimated revenues for 2008–09 from all sources are about $71.9 billion including:

State funds $42.2 billion (including $37.5 billion Proposition 98)
mostly from California sales and income taxes, including about $4.6 billion not counted toward the Proposition 98 guarantee.

Local property taxes $16.5 billion (including $14.0 billion Proposition 98)
are collected and distributed locally, but the state determines the distribution among school districts and other local governments. The $16.5 billion includes $2.5 billion not counted toward the Proposition 98 guarantee, such as $2.1 billion in local debt service. "

Speaking of looking at tax rates, how about the higher tax rate an owner of a lower valued property would pay versus the owner of a higher valued property on a parcel tax? How about the higher tax burden on single-family residential property owners compared with all those large commercial parcels?


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Posted by a reader
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Nov 10, 2009 at 1:56 pm

Stacey,

I was disagreeing with Beth. I think we both disagree with her on property taxes. I didn't say anything about any other kind of taxes.

Also, I asked if you wouldn't support any parcel tax, just on principle. I was guessing that the answer was no. Do you think all those other districts, like Palo Alto, Piedmont, San Ramon, Dublin and Livermore, did the wrong thing by enacting parcel taxes? Do you want to see a parcel tax in Pleasanton?


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Posted by Stacey
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Nov 10, 2009 at 3:54 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

A reader,

It is a tough question. I can't decide my mind like that for the future while lacking information necessary to make such a decision. I can only say that there are certain features such a tax would need before I'd support it, for example, I'd not support a parcel tax with a flat dollar amount because it is a regressive tax.


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