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on Feb 3, 2009
Los Altos school board rejects parcel tax increase
By Joshua Melvin
Bay Area News Group
Posted: 02/03/2009 07:55:21 AM PST
Facing opposition from community members, the Los Altos school board voted Monday night not to proceed with a proposed parcel tax increase.
If it had passed in a May mail-only special election, the measure would have increased the flat rate tax collected from all property owners in the district by at least $168. The district has had a parcel tax since voters approved one in 1989. Property owners currently pay $597 per piece of land they possess in the district and that money is used by the district to cover various costs including staff salaries.
"This is not the time to go to the community and ask for money," said resident Katie Matice, referring to the recession. She and other speakers said the $260,000 cost to hold the election would be wasted.
In addition to a sour economy, meeting attendees said they were worried there would not be enough time to raise the support needed to pass the measure -- they estimated at least $100,000 would be needed to run a successful campaign. The deadline to hold a May mail-only special election is this week, according to Santa Clara County Registrar of Voters rules. Ballots would have been mailed to voters on April 6.
The district had been investigating the parcel tax increase as a means to respond to anticipated state budget cuts. Randall Kenyon, assistant superintendent for business services, said the district will likely lose $2.6 million of its roughly $42 million budget over the next two
If the state cuts come to pass, the district might have to lay off staff and cut programs like art and physical education, said Board Member David Luskin. The parcel tax increase could have raised an estimated $2 million.
Board Member Mark Goines said he voted against the proposal because there is no state budget yet. He said that it will be easier to convince the community to vote for a tax increase with hard numbers and added that voters are more likely to vote for a measure if they know what programs and services are on the chopping block.
I think it is important to note that this is not a regional problem. It is happening everywhere and the backlash is nearly unanimous. We need to start living responsibly, and that starts with creating budgets based on available revenues. Demanding additional taxes and borrowing from our future to cover expenses is what got us all into this mess in the first place. Make the hard decisions now.
Welcome the invite and go listen. Then ask questions. Get informed. You owe it to yourself AND the community of Pleasanton AS A WHOLE.
Just remember this: Your children and/or property values are DIRECTLY affected.
The bottom line is that PUSD and teachers will need to learn to live within their means like the rest of us in the eve of this depression.
You get what you get. Just make the necessary cuts to balance the budget. There are plenty of "fat" accumulated during the good years to trim. This is the time!
Ultimately, PUSD and teachers will need to decide where to make the cuts. They can trade in their step and column raises and COLA increases from the past couple of years to save some jobs, CSR, and other programs/services for the kids.
If we approve a parcel tax, the money can be used to free up millions from the general funds. PUSD can then use those "freed" general funds to support more raises instead of putting them back into the classroom.
Don't be fool by the usage restrictions set on the parcel tax. They can use the taxes to fund education programs and services while freeing up money elsewhere for raises.
NO ON PARCEL TAX!
Not too many years ago our district spending was a fraction of its current level. Then the big Monopoly game started. With each move across the board the tax base increased exponentially. And to no ones surprise, so did our tax funded expenditures.
My point is that the kids that graduated before this whole board game started did not turn out to be idiots. In fact the test scores and success rates of our community's children has exceeded the median by a significant margin for as long as I can remember. So our local teachers AND parents must be doing something right. Although it appears that throwing more money at the business of education does not radically alter the equation in either direction.
The California Teacher's Association is one of the most powerful lobbies in the state. The airwaves are filled with pleas for more school funding before every election. And those ads are entirely funded by the teacher's union to preserve and create new teaching jobs. And I am usually ok with that … but these are extraordinary times.
Most of us that are mature enough to be affected by the proposed tax realize that hasty decisions made under duress usually prove to be bad choices in the long run. And taxes, even those with "expiration dates", are generally permanent assessments. There is loads of data to support this claim.
We have a problem. We are going to be addressing many of them in the next year and beyond. I agree with those who have stated that this is a time for responsible action, and that begins with solving this crisis without further burdening the tax payer.
Why should I go down there? So I could be told, in the most educated and polite way, that my opinion doesn't matter...? Has anyone ever tried to do this except me?? I hope the people show up, but please don't expect to hear anything except; "this isn't the venue", or "we have to stay on task, so that is a discussion for a later date"... , or "we will have to get back to you"= (knowing they won't)...or my favorite "we're sorry you feel that way"
Give it a shot and let me know how the metting goes...I'll hold my breath...
correction: last line should read "meeting"...
well, they could institute a student parking fee. and if they made the fee just for those students driving a lexus, mercedes, infinity, bmw, land rover or any SUV, that would just about cover the district budget for a year.
This is about how taxpayer dollars have been or will be spent and the clear lack of faith the community has in the abilities of the current administration to change its practices. This community has supported its schools and its teachers in every way possible. But the comment about freeing up dollars in the general fund is a real concern. Raises (COLAs) have been given without clear sources of funding into the future to support them; frivolous lawsuits have cost millions and are going to continue with little hope of success; reserves have been squandered so there is nothing to fall back on now when it is needed most. Those in control have not figured out that "if you find yourself in the bottom of a hole, stop digging."
The parcel tax is asking homeowners to put dirt into the hole with no power to take away the shovels.
I find the lack of faith in this community disturbing...
Teachers and the administrators deserve more than just a pad on the back for their wonderful contributions to our community throughout the years.
We should thank them by offering them more COLA and raises this year, showing them that we as a community appreciate them and their contributions. Yes on a parcel tax is the least we can do. I'm thankful that you bloggers represent only a small minority in this community. Most of us are willing to give our district and our teachers all the financial support they need.
Superintendent Dr. John Casey is employed under a contract which ends June 30, 2010. His annual salary is $227,002, with a 12-month work calendar and 24 days of vacation. Medical and other health insurance may be purchased at his sole expense, and the District contributes $5,000 annually for life insurance premiums. At the completion of each year of the contract where he has worked at least 85% of the days, he receives a payment of $10,000 into a tax-sheltered annuity. He receives $1,000 per month as a transportation allowance and membership in professional organizations as appropriate and necessary. When Dr. Casey moved to Pleasanton, he received a $200,000 loan to help purchase a home in the community. This loan is interest free and must be repaid within 18 months of the termination of his employment. There is no provision or expectation that the loan would be "forgiven." The current balance of this loan is $190,000.
I strongly agree that attending this meeting is a waste of time if you expect to hear anything other than a sales pitch. I went to the last one, as well as watched the entire board meeting on TV. This is not about gathering ideas or community input. This is about figuring out how to convince the public that we should dig deeper and continue to fund the indulgence. I hope the board has the good sense not to waste their resources funding an election and marketing campaign. Just because no one wants to be shouted down by the PTA doesn't mean there is a glimmer of hope that a new tax will pass at this time.
I think that those of you that voted for "W" for prez are getting what you deserve and more!
Wars are costly. Bush and his pals got rich on the war!
We could do wonders just getting good management at Amador Valley High School. Principal Coupe and Athletics Director Lou Cesario are at not capable managers or adminstrators. If people are worried about the community or house values and their schools get rid of these guys.
Please note that the article stated in the comments above, explains that the Los Altos school baord decided not to seek an additional parcel tax. They already have one in place and have for years. We are lucky that Pleasanton has been able to put off such a tax for this long!
For our schools, I Support a Pacel tax!
We have been paying 155 million on PUSD bonds for the last 20 years!!!! They want us to keep paying the bond tax and add a salary... I mean parcel tax also.
Re: Los Altos's parcel tax.
They have had many parcel tax over the years. From their website, Web Link, the current's parcel tax is $597 / parcel. Yeah, they decide not to pursue since they're already collecting $597 / parcel. What would they do if they don't have that $597 / parcel tax?
INteresting that so many of the Pro Parcel Tax Blogs have disappeared - including all of my post -- I guess Pleasanton Weekly editor has a view
I will vote yes on a parcel tax .I want to support out schools- teachers and administrators and am glad I don't live in Los Altos where $597 still isn't enough!
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