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No on E - Simple Economics - What's the ROI on a $392 tax?

Original post made by Jill on Apr 21, 2011

Putting aside the debate on school funding entirely, and looking at Measure E from a personal economic standpoint only, I believe it to be a bad investment.

Home values are based in part on the value buyers place on the community - whether the community that they're buying into serves to be beneficial or detrimental to their investment. I believe that if Measure E passes, the Pleasanton community will be seen by potential home buyers as a community that is just acepting bad financial judgement by the local government, and expect even higher taxes in the future.

Let's put some numbers around this. The parcel tax is $98 per year for four years, for a total tax of $392, and a total city tax of $8 million. At the same time district personnel will receive automatic raises of $15 million. So the $392 will not even cover the raises and we will dig our whole deeper with the existing financial policies. We will have to lay off all new and energenic teachers. Potential home buyers in the community know that the parcel tax will not even cover the raises so the district will be back real soon with an even higher tax, just to pay the raises; with no new programs added. These potential home buyers in the community know the existing community supports additional taxes, no matter if the data shows the tax will not save the programs. They figure that when there is a higher tax request from the district in a couple of years, that will be approved by the same people. Some sombody purchasing a home after Measure E passes knows that their taxes will keep increasing in Pleasanton, even if just there to pay for raises of district personnel.

Accordingly, I have voted No on E and encourage all of you in the community to do the same.

There are other problems with Measure E that are being debated elsewhere. In my opinion they alone are well worth a No vote.



Comments (32)

Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2011 at 5:07 pm

There are many factors that help to mold excellent school districts and educated residents that value education are a part of that mix, as are good teachers. I'm not bashing teachers. I'm calling out the district offices and the teachers union for the damage they are attempting to do to the school districts finances. Their argument is that people don't want to support education but, when math is applied, their logic, reasoning, and numbers fall flat.

This is really a math problem. The quality of education that Pleasanton residents have come to expect, for their children, will be severely impacted if the district and unions continue on this path of budgetary destruction. You can't continue to significantly increase cost beyond revenue without having it impact education. This isn't a new theory, and I can't sit idly buy and watch it happen! The unions math is 1+1= Much More. It is past time that budgets are respected - as opposed to something that needs a "work-around" solution, and our district is forthcoming with fully disclosed budget projections that include the soon to be overwhelming pension obligations.

The math doesn't work in regards to what the PUSD is proposing. The parcel tax only compounds the problem.


Posted by Paul, a resident of Del Prado
on Apr 21, 2011 at 6:28 pm

Jill, it's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and for your post, I thank you and appreciate the compliment.

(For those readers left wondering at this point, refer to the timestamps of my original post and Jill's rebuttal.)

The fundamental issue I raised still stands. From a homeowner's point of view, do you believe that the four-year parcel tax of $392 is a good investment?

As I stated earlier, yes, I believe it's a good investment and therefore voted Yes on Measure E, and encourage all to do the same.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2011 at 6:54 pm

"The fundamental issue I raised still stands. From a homeowner's point of view, do you believe that the four-year parcel tax of $392 is a good investment?"

No, I don't. How does creating a structural deficit benefit education/homeowner equity? This discussion should really be about the long term value of education. If your Only concern is your homeowner equity...maybe you are posting under the wrong topic?


Posted by Sam, a resident of Oak Hill
on Apr 21, 2011 at 6:57 pm

Jill said: "I believe that if Measure E passes, the Pleasanton community will be seen by potential home buyers as a community that is just acepting bad financial judgement by the local government, and expect even higher taxes in the future."

LOL! Jill, this is what I call "wishful thinking" or perhaps better "bending the facts to support your own conclusion." Take it from someone who recently bought a house in Pleasanton: School quality and the perception of how strongly a community supports its schools is of PARAMOUNT importance to the calculations of a prospective homebuyer. If Measure E passes, homebuyers will take that as a strong statement of school support from the community. If Measure E fails to pass, then homebuyers will perceive that to mean that this community doesn't strongly support it's schools. "Unfair characterization", you say? "Untrue perception", you say? Doesn't matter. As the old saying goes, "Perception is Reality". If homebuyers perceive that our community doesn't support it's schools, they'll go shopping for a home elsewhere. They'll head for Danville or San Ramon or some other community where they perceive the schools to be better. Watch your property value plummet as a consequence.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:02 pm

"LOL! Jill, this is what I call "wishful thinking" or perhaps better "bending the facts to support your own conclusion." Take it from someone who recently bought a house in Pleasanton: School quality and the perception of how strongly a community supports its schools is of PARAMOUNT importance to the calculations of a prospective homebuyer"

Did your realtor show you that the last parcel tax failed? Or did your realtor show the school districts state ranking?

I wish people would consider the long-term implications of creating a structural deficit, and how that impacts education going forward. There are a host of cities that have used the same arguments about property values that are currently in serious financial trouble. The conversation should really be about the fiscal health of the school system. If we can focus on that first, put the horse before the cart, the other things will take care of themselves. Creating a structural deficit that will only lead to future cuts from the PUSD budget will only hurt what you claim you're trying to preserve.

Nothing funny about that!


Posted by Julie, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2011 at 8:08 pm

Julie is a registered user.

When I moved here the broker told me that the schools were good. I did not request or receive any stats to support it, nor did I request or receive any data on Pleasanton voting history in regards to education.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 21, 2011 at 10:07 pm

When I moved here 32 years ago the brokers showed me the test scores of the students on the standardized state tests. They were meritorious. That was before there was a PUSD and instead Pleasanton was part of the Amador Valley Joint School District, which was shared with Dublin. Foothill High was still a work-in-progress, there was 1 fewer middle school and there were 3 fewer elementary schools, the population of Pleasanton was about half, and there was little in the way of high end housing (no Ruby Hills, no Vintage Hills, no high end communities off of Foothill Road with names beginning with Golden, Hopyard was still a two lane road, etc.) Yes, Pleasanton was much more middle class. And the schools excelled without having huge sums of money thrown at teacher salaries and benefits and the infrastructure. Maybe who the students and their parents are were more responsible for the quality shown on the test scores.

The message here is that realistically nobody checks the finances of the school district as part of their decision process to move here. They check historical performance. And that performance was rated highly before Pleasanton became a unified school district where 44% of the teachers make $89K or more, and the budget became the sole measure of student quality and performance.


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2011 at 10:45 pm

"No, I don't. How does creating a structural deficit benefit education/homeowner equity?"

Measure E doesn't create a "structural deficit". Talk about distorting the truth. Measure E reduces any structural deficit. It doesn't set district policy. It raises money. Any "structural deficit" will be worse without Measure E. Stop distorting the truth.

Yes on Measure E.


Posted by Yet Another Teacher, a resident of Hart Middle School
on Apr 21, 2011 at 10:55 pm

The median price of a single-family home in Pleasanton is about $665,000 (median meaning half the houses are priced below that and half above). Pleasanton is the richest town of its size in the United States, with a higher per capita income than Beverly Hills or Palo Alto.

If an annual tax of $98 a year discourages people who can afford a $600,000, $800,000, or $1 million home from buying, then they've got rocks in their heads.

Jill's argument is ludicrous, really.


Posted by frank, a resident of Pleasanton Heights
on Apr 21, 2011 at 11:26 pm

I agree with Yet Another Teacher. Anyone who would buy or not buy that truly expensive home in Pleasanton because a $98 dollar per year parcel tax was NOT passed or passed would truly have rocks in their head.

Schools are measured on the historical performance of the students, not whether parcel taxes were passed or not. The outcome of student performance is not simply predicted by $98 per year per parcel, as Yes on Measure E folks would have you believe.


Posted by Arnold, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2011 at 11:43 pm

"Measure E doesn't create a "structural deficit". Talk about distorting the truth. Measure E reduces any structural deficit."

John,

Measure E is the enabler. Do you understand the mechanics of a structural deficit? If you are basing your decision on "Measure E reduces any structural deficit" then you will be very disappointed.

I don't agree with you but it's your vote. If that's what you beleive then you should vote yes on E.


Posted by parcel?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 21, 2011 at 11:43 pm

Why a parcel tax?, how about a per-student-enrolled in school tax? Would people be so quick to jump on that?

This seems like an indiscriminate way to push the tax through, very uniform whether I'm on a 250k parcel or a 2.5M parcel. Whether I have 0 kids in school or 5.

I'd prefer to see a % tax based on parcel value, or even better a per-student-enrolled fee. Either of those makes more sense to me than a flat tax.


Posted by Buy a Coke, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 12:12 am

Soda tax would raise $1.7 billion, buoying school districts, study says

Buy a Coke. Save a classroom.

A study released Thursday estimates that a 1-cent-per-ounce tax on sugary sodas and other sweetened drinks would return $233 per student to California classrooms and fund childhood obesity prevention initiatives.

"The science linking sugary drinks to the obesity epidemic is rock solid," said study author Harold Goldstein, with the California Center for Public Health Advocacy, who is a leading proponent behind the largely successful removal of junk food and sodas from school vending machines and cafeterias. "It's time to make sure that the cost of these beverages includes the social cost of the harm they are doing."

The study is based on AB 669 by Assemblyman Bill Monning, D-Carmel, which would raise $1.7 billion statewide every year and send 85 percent of that to schools and local agencies and 15 percent to state-run anti-obesity programs.

At a penny an ounce, Californians would need to buy the equivalent of 14 billion 12-ounce cans of soda, an average of a little more than a can a day for every man, woman and child in the state.

If adopted, the tax would raise an estimated $39 million for Contra Costa County alone and and millions of dollars in other Bay Area counties, according to the center's analysis.

The money would help fill the gap left by school cuts and help teach children healthful eating and lifestyle habits through education and sports programs, say soda tax proponents.

"Soda has become the new tobacco," said Supervisor John Gioia, of Richmond. "It took us a while to get to the point where we linked the negative health implications of tobacco on public health, and we know that the taxes on cigarettes are working to reduce smoking."

A soda tax -- applied to all beverages with added sugar and fructose corn syrup -- has been debated for years.

The Obama administration floated it as part of its federal health care reform package, but the concept collapsed under heavy industry lobbying.

Now, in an era of serious government deficits around the country, a growing number of states and cities are taking a closer look at a soda tax, including California, Texas, Vermont, Philadelphia and Seattle.

...It's a bad idea, countered said Jon Coupal, with the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association.

Soda drinkers vastly outnumber smokers, a dwindling population whose ostracized members are accustomed to paying cigarette taxes, he said.

"It's the stupidest thing to come down the pike," Coupal said. "Why are we singling out this form of carbohydrate for taxation? What's next? A bread tax? A pizza tax? At the end of the day, this effort is a combination of bad fiscal policy with nannyism in government."

Classroom dollars and soda consumption have no ties, said Contra Costa Taxpayers Association Executive Director Kris Hunt. Web Link

More good work from the CTA and Bill Monning, D-Carmel. When is enough, enough?


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 8:35 am

"Do you understand the mechanics of a structural deficit?"

Yes, I understand thoroughly. Do you? The deficit was there to start with. Measure E mitigates it, diminishes it, makes it smaller. Failing to pass Measure E causes a larger deficit.


Posted by jill, a resident of Birdland
on Apr 22, 2011 at 8:41 am

Measure E mitigates a structural deficit as much as a bottle of water helps put out a house fire.


Posted by Will, a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on Apr 22, 2011 at 8:48 am

I just bought a home here and they told me all about the last parcel tax and that there was a new one coming up. When I learned it was roughly $400 over 4 years and it could help the school I figure it was a no brainer. I guess there are more people here with no brains than I thought. This is .27 cents per day.

Some people said this is not going to cover the cost of raises…..so I guess we just do nothing then…. Right? How does that make sense? So I get it, let's not pay and have them in even more trouble than they are in right now. Different scenario for you, you kid needs an operation and people have donated half of the cost. Do you send the money back because it does not cover it? No you pay the money and keep trying to get the rest.

.27 cents a day!!! You no on E people kill me! How much are you spending on you coffee, hair, manicures/ pedicures, oversized trucks? This is a small contribution for your schools. And the pay off is there, in your kid, your neighbors kid, property values (even if minimal) and in just being a good neighbor.

Yes on E!


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 22, 2011 at 9:19 am

Stacey is a registered user.

"so I guess we just do nothing then"

Voters invested individual school board members with representative power to negotiate for the public's common good. If they end up doing nothing, if they can't control labor costs and can't provide oversight for how public money is being spent, then they are ineffective and should be voted out.

The parent didn't set up the scenario which caused the child to need an operation. The school board sets up the scenario in which raises are needed.


Posted by Will, a resident of Grey Eagle Estates
on Apr 22, 2011 at 9:33 am

Stacey,

Regardless, we still do nothing? Fine vote them out. I dont care. we still have to fix or at least try to fix the problem. Just voting everything down helps noone!

The parent may not have set it up but they still have to deal with it, Right? So do we!


Posted by John, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 9:40 am

" if they can't control labor costs and can't provide oversight for how public money is being spent, then they are ineffective and should be voted out."

But they can control labor costs and they are not ineffective. Remember in was the recession and Sacramento that caused the shortfall, not PUSD.
Yes on Measure E.


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 22, 2011 at 11:26 am

Stacey is a registered user.

Sure, it's Sacramento's byzantine education financing structure plus categoricals and mandates, over-reliance on a very progressive income tax code, and the recession. But also remember, it wasn't Sacramento that removed the policy to have large reserves, spend one-time money on ongoing operational costs, treat the Sycamore Fund like an ATM, nor negotiate the contracts. The recession just provided exposure.


Posted by Really?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 1:01 pm

It was our district and school boards that have kept a parcel tax away from this community for years finding alternative ways to fund the schools with less money coming from the state to pay for even the minimum program. Prop 98 guaranteed funding has not been met for years and individual districts have had to pay for it themselves- with all surrounding districts voting in parcel taxes to do so. Not one of them have changed the structure of how teachers are paid or frozen salary schedules.

Our administration and board has avoided this, our teachers have taken significant pay cuts to pay for this, and now it is a negative? To me, this is commendable considering what every district in this state has had to do because of Sacramento's lack of funding. Our tax dollars are not coming back to fund our schools- that is the problem. Can't wait to hear more this May- as the revised budget is shared- how much cutting from the state will it take for residents here to see where the issue is coming from?


Posted by Darian, a resident of Walnut Grove Elementary School
on Apr 22, 2011 at 1:29 pm

I voted Yes on E and would encourage everyone to do the same.


Posted by Mr. Geeneeyus, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 2:09 pm

Since this is a PROPERTY TAX & not merely an assessment of all Pleasanton residents wouldn't it also be fair that only property owners should be able to vote on it?

Logic would only conclude that if I'm renting a house, condo or apartment I'm voting a big HELL YES on this since it does not affect me in any way at all.

...Just saying.


Posted by yeah, but, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 2:24 pm

"Since this is a PROPERTY TAX & not merely an assessment of all Pleasanton residents wouldn't it also be fair that only property owners should be able to vote on it?"

Um, no, because if the only people that were allowed to vote on it were people who actually paid for it there's no way it could pass!


Posted by concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 2:29 pm

"It was our district and school boards that have kept a parcel tax away from this community for years "

We do not need an additional funding source because we receive a lot more money from the state and the fed than other district. For example, from the State, we receive over $500 more per student than San Ramon.

And if you search on the Internet, you will see other district that are freezing Step and Column.


Posted by concerned, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

And,

Vote No on Measure E

(forgot to add this like all the supporters do to their messages)


Posted by Stacey, a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Apr 22, 2011 at 2:32 pm

Stacey is a registered user.

In Davis they have a parcel tax on the ballot that would levy $20 per unit in apartments.


Posted by bailout mentality, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 2:57 pm

everyone wants a bailout instead of living within their means (budget).


Posted by Love our schools, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 3:19 pm

We have been so pleased with the schools since we moved to Pleasanton. My daughter is getting a wonderful education.

Yes on Measure E!


Posted by ROI--Good Idea, a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Apr 22, 2011 at 3:38 pm

While difficult to assess, a ROI mind set seems reasonable. However, people looking to buy a home in Pleasanton will look at test scores, not whether or not the latest school tax measure was approved by voters. If schools are very crowded (not likely under any of the scenarios in Pleasanton) that is also important. Next is crime statistics. So, now the question is whether the extra tax will improve test scores and reduce crime, or the reverse. In my opinion, reasonable arguments can be made either way. My choice is to vote NO on Measure E. I respect others who come to a different conclusion.


Posted by Duuuhhh, a resident of Mission Park
on Apr 22, 2011 at 6:50 pm

Anyone who votes no and is a homeowner in Pleasanton is brainless. I too am frustrated with the state and our school district. There are several people in the district that can be cut to save hundreds of thousands every year, specifically Myla Grasso. Our once a week newsletters and filling in different departments as needed isnt worth paying her over 100k a year! I know it won't solve the problem, but it would help... People desire to live in Pleasanton because of it's school system. If $98 a year helps to save our home prices, we should all vote yes!


Posted by Really?, a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Apr 22, 2011 at 9:36 pm

concerned- San Ramon has a parcel tax, parents are also expected to pay over $300 per child per year for the learning fund, San Ramon has not frozen their S&C.

Money from the State is not coming back to our community to fund the students education. The price per pupil you quoted is no longer accurate - it is now significantly less as a matter of fact, and potentially more will be cut after the budget revise in May.

Your internet searches seem to leave out what is happening in your own backyard today!


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