Local votes of confidence: Most bonds, parcel taxes pass
Nov 9, 2012 | By John Fensterwald | 5 Comments
Proposition 30, raising statewide taxes to support education, was a nail biter, struggling to get a majority of voters behind it. But that wasn’t the case for most K-12 parcel taxes and school construction bonds on the ballot Tuesday. Voters passed 14 of 22 parcel taxes by margins of victory ranging from 67.1 percent – just above the requisite two-thirds majority – to an impressive 77.3 percent, in the Berryessa School District in San Jose (see chart below).
Even in five of the eight districts where they lost, parcel taxes drew at least 55 percent support. Superintendents and school board members in those districts at least can take solace in knowing that help may be on the way in Sacramento.
Now that Democrats in the Assembly and Senate are on the verge of gaining a supermajority, they may soon be in a position to put before voters a constitutional amendment lowering the threshold for parcel taxes to 55 percent, just as it is for school construction bonds.
For a decade, state Sen. Joe Simitian, a Palo Alto Democrat, tried, to no avail, to persuade the Legislature to put the question on the ballot. But he couldn’t persuade any Republican colleagues in the Senate to vote for it, so it died shy of the two-thirds needed for approval. Assemblymember Mike Feuer, a Los Angeles Democrat who authored a similar bill last year in the Assembly, didn’t fare any better.
Simitian and Feuer are termed out as of January, so another legislator will have to pick up the cause, this time without having to ask for Republican support. Had the 55 percent been in effect this week, 86 percent of the parcel taxes would have passed.
The parcel taxes included a modest $39 per property for five years in Alameda Unified and $196 for eight years in Mill Valley – on top of $731 voters already are paying. Davis Unified had an enticement written into the measure to vote for Gov. Brown’s Prop. 30. Because it passed, property owners won’t have to pay the $204 additional parcel tax they approved on Tuesday.
Parcel taxes are one of the few taxes that school districts can levy. Because of Proposition 13, they cannot be based on the value of a house or property. Cottages and starter mansions must be charged a uniform amount, although some districts are experimenting with parcel taxes based on square footage, and some, like Centinela Union High School District and four feeder districts in Los Angeles County, are charging commercial and residential properties different rates. A dozen of the 22 parcel taxes were renewals or extensions of existing parcel taxes. New parcel taxes had a harder time; six of the 10 failed.
Three community college districts also put parcel taxes on the ballot; only Measure A, the $79 per parcel tax in the financially troubled San Francisco Community College District, passed. Proposals in the Chabot-Las Positas and Contra Costa Community College Districts came just shy of 66.7 percent.
Over the past 20 years, 55 percent of parcel taxes – 322 of 584 – have passed, according to Mike McMahon, a school board member from Alameda Unified, who has tracked the results. Only about 10 percent of the state’s nearly 1,000 school districts, mostly in the Bay Area, have passed parcel taxes.
Also on Tuesday, a record 106 school construction measures, requesting $14.5 billion in bonds, were on the ballot. They needed only a 55 percent majority vote to pass, and 85 were approved – 80 percent, on par with the historic average. Among the largest to pass: $475 million in Oakland Unified and $346 million in Sacramento City Unified. Among the largest to fail: $497 in Mira Costa Community College District and $449 million in San Dieguito Union High School District. The bond receiving the most support was $90 million in Inglewood Unified, with 86 percent support – a vote of confidence for a besieged district taken over by the state this year after declaring insolvency.
|Results of parcel taxes from Nov. 6, 2012 election (updated Nov. 8)|
|County||District/Measure||Amount||Passed (2/3 needed)||% Yes vote|
|Alameda||San Leandro Unified/L||$39/yr for 5 yr (new)||No||65.6%|
|Contra Costa||Martinez Unified/C||$50/yr for 5 yr (extension)||Yes||67.7%|
|Contra Costa||West Contra Costa Unified/G||7.2 cents sq. ft for 5 yr (extension)||Yes||74.7%|
|Humboldt||Arcata Elementary/E||$49/yr for 5 yr (new)||Yes||77.3%|
|Kern||Mojave Unified/N||$42/yr for 5 yr (new)||No||50.4%|
|Los Angeles||Local Classrooms Funding Authority CL (4 elementary districts + Centinela Union High)||2 cents/sq. ft (residential); 7.5 cents/sq. ft (other property) for 12 yr (new)||Yes||69.5%|
|Los Angeles||Little Lake City Unified/TT||$48/yr for 5 yr(new)||Yes||74.1%|
|Los Angeles||Westside Union School District/WP||$96/yr for 4 yr (new)||No||53.6%|
|Marin||Mill Valley Schools/B||$196 yr/8 yr (in addition to a $731 tax through 2018 that increases 5% a yr)||Yes||70.4%|
|Marin/Sonoma||Shoreline Unified/C||$184.70/yr for 8 yr (extension)||Yes||71.5% (Marin: 76.8%;Sonoma: 63.2%)|
|Monterey||Pacific Grove Unified/A||$65/yr for 5 yr (extension)||No||65.1%|
|Nevada||Pleasant Ridge Union/K||$92/yr (new)||No||36.7%|
|San Mateo||San Bruno Park School District/G||$199/yr for 5 yr (new)||No||58.5%|
|Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara Unified (high school)/A||$48/yr for 4 yr(continuation)||Yes||68.6%|
|Santa Barbara||Santa Barbara Unified (elementary)/B||$45/yr for 4 yr (continuation)||Yes||69.6%|
|Santa Clara||Berryessa Union Schools/K||$79/yr for 8 yr (continuation)||Yes||77.3%|
|Sonoma||Fort Ross Elementary/L||$48/yr for 8 yr (renewal)||No||65.4%|
|Sonoma||Sebastopol Union/O||$76/yr for 8 yr (renewal)||Yes||71.4%|
|Sonoma||West Sonoma County Union/K||$48/yr for 8 yr (renewal)||Yes||72.3%|
|Tulare||Three Rivers School District/I||$60/yr (new)||No||61.6%|
|Ventura||Ventura Unified/Q||$59/yr for 4 yr (new; voters rejected $96/yr in 2010)||Yes||67.1%|
|Yolo||Davis Joint Unified/E||$204/yr for 4 yr (renewal plus $242 more; contingent on Prop 30 failing)||Yes||68.9%|