LAFAYETTE — Residents in this Lamorinda city may be confronted with another school tax measure next year.
As the Lafayette School District looks to another year of coping with state budget cuts, officials have taken the first steps toward a "bridge the gap" parcel tax, asking Superintendent Fred Brill on Monday to start looking for consultants who can guide the district through the process of putting a measure on the ballot.
Discussions are still in their infancy, Brill said, but "what I got is general consensus that this is the direction that we are moving."
The district is targeting a May 3, 2011, mail-only election.
District officials have trimmed their 2010-11 budget by $1.5 million but are still $1.4 million in the red. To close the gap, a parcel tax would need to be $172, according to a staff report Brill prepared for the board.
The consultant will help the district determine an appropriate parcel tax amount and whether the district should join with other elementary districts in the area.
The Moraga School District has formed a revenue study committee that will make recommendations to that district's board, potentially including a parcel tax, later this year, said Moraga district Superintendent Rick Schafer.
Lafayette residents voted in 2007 to increase the district's current parcel tax from $132 to $313, with 3 percent annual increases.
Residents of the Acalanes Union High School District pay $301 yearly for two parcel taxes, both approved within the past year.
In addition, the city of Lafayette is considering asking voters in November to increase the city's real property transfer tax, paid when property is sold, to help raise money to repair roads.
Brill acknowledged voters may be wary of another tax measure, but pointed a finger at the state for reducing the district's funding by $4.2 million — 18 percent.
"What I can tell you is if I had that extra $4.2 million, we would not be cutting positions, raising class sizes ... arts and music would not be in jeopardy and we would not be looking at a parcel tax," he said.
Raising class sizes is something the district should look at more seriously before asking voters to dig into their pockets again, said Don Lively, the Lafayette Taxpayers Association's executive director.
"Why before you ask for still another parcel tax do you not adjust your class sizes to a more reasonable number and see if that covers the deficit?" he said.
Contact Jonathan Morales at 925-943-8048. Follow him at Twitter.com/sosaysjonathan.