Last week, we examined ballot measures in four East Bay districts that would authorize bonds for construction. Now we turn to four other districts seeking permission to extend existing taxes that provide money for annual operations.

Parcel taxes provide school districts facing challenging economic times a reasonable temporary means to augment their budgets.

That's why Dublin voters should approve Measure B to extend a $96-per-parcel tax until 2019. Voters there are receiving mail-in ballots that must be received back at the elections office by May 6. Similarly, Livermore voters should support Measure G on the June 3 ballot, renewing a $138-per-parcel tax until 2022.

Both Alameda County districts have set expiration dates, at which time voters can revisit whether continuing the taxes is merited. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said of two Contra Costa May 6 mail-in ballot measures.

Acalanes high school district voters should reject Measure A and Lafayette voters should oppose Measure B because both attempt to turn temporary taxes into permanent levies, with no expiration dates.

The Acalanes measure would make permanent an annual $112-per-parcel tax now expiring in 2015. That would be on top of an existing permanent $189 parcel tax, for a total of $301 per year.


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The Lafayette measure would combine two parcel taxes, totaling $539, set to expire in 2015. Measure B would not only make the combined tax permanent, but also build in annual inflation adjustments of up to 3 percent a year, locking in an ever-increasing property tax increase.

Parcel taxes should be subjected to periodic voter review to adjust for changing economic conditions and shifts in state school funding formulas, and to provide voters an opportunity to review whether district budgets are being wisely managed.

Acalanes and Lafayette provide excellent examples of why such periodic review is essential. The Acalanes district has nearly a $9.7 million unfunded liability for promised retiree health coverage. The Lafayette district shortfall is $5.7 million.

Neither district has a plan in place to pay off its debt. Indeed, neither district is making the minimum required contributions toward its retiree health fund, meaning the debt continues to grow, much like when an individual fails to make the minimum payment on a credit card.

If voters reject the two measures, district officials could bring back temporary tax extensions in November, before the existing levies expire. That would also give them time to establish repayment plans for their unfunded liabilities.

Responsibly dealing with those liabilities should have been a top priority. Acalanes and Lafayette voters should demand responsible fiscal management before approving tax extensions.