When school districts ask voters to approve tax increases, they are generally for one of two purposes.
First, they will often seek approval to issue bonds to finance construction of buildings and facilities. The bonds are repaid with tax increases over decades. The measures usually require 55 percent voter approval. Five East Bay districts are seeking bond authority on the Nov. 6 ballot. We evaluated those measures earlier this week.
Second, school districts will often seek approval for parcel taxes. The money generally goes toward ongoing operating expenses. Such measures require approval of two-thirds of the voters. This fall, five districts are seeking parcel tax approval. On Monday, we evaluated the West Contra Costa school district parcel tax. Today, we examine, and endorse, the other four.
Our K-12 schools and community colleges are being strangled by revenue cuts and are desperately cutting expenditures to balance their budgets. The question for us is whether the cost of the parcel tax, when considered in combination with taxes to pay off bonds, is reasonable.
Yes on Martinez Measure C: This is merely an extension of an existing $50 per parcel annual tax that is scheduled to expire after 2013. The tax comes on top of two bond measures voters previously approved for school construction. When all the taxes are combined, the owner of a home assessed at an average $279,000 currently pays $251 per year. When one of the bond measures is retired in a couple of years, the total bill will drop to $134 per year.
Yes on San Leandro Measure L: This new parcel tax would assess owners of single-family homes $39 per year. Commercial and industrial property owners would pay 2 cents per square foot of lot size. The tax comes on top of three bond measures voters previously approved for school construction, for which the owner of a home assessed at an average $264,828 currently pays $238 per year. The parcel tax would bring the total tab to $277.
Yes on Contra Costa Community College District Measure A: This new tax would add $11 per parcel to property tax bills. The tax comes on top of two bond measures voters previously approved for school construction. The owner of a home assessed at an average $167,664 currently pays $23 per year for those bonds. The parcel tax would bring the total tab to $34.
Yes on Chabot-Las Positas Community College District Measure I: This new tax would add $28 per parcel to property tax bills in the district, which includes Castro Valley, Dublin, Hayward, Livermore, Pleasanton, San Leandro, San Lorenzo, Sunol and Union City. The tax comes on top of a bond measure voters previously approved for school construction. The owner of, for example, a San Leandro home assessed at an average $264,828 currently pays $58 per year. The parcel tax would bring the total tab to $86.