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Acalanes Board Moves Ahead With Parcel Tax Election

The board will take a final vote Thursday morning on a ballot measure to extend the current $112 per parcel tax indefinitely

The Acalanes Union High School District board of education discusses a proposed parcel tax measure on Monday night
The Acalanes Union High School District board of education discusses a proposed parcel tax measure on Monday night
The Acalanes Union High School District board of education decided Monday night to move forward with an extension of the district's current parcel tax.

The board will take a final vote at a special meeting at 9 a.m. Thursday on the proposed ballot measure that will ask district voters to extend the current $112 per parcel annual tax for an indefinite period of time.

The measure would be on a mail-only ballot on May 6.

A parcel tax measure for the Lafayette School District may also be on that same ballot. The Lafayette board is also scheduled to vote on their proposed parcel tax on Thursday morning.

Currently, the Acalanes district receives $3.9 million of its $56 million in annual revenues from the Measure A parcel tax approved in 2010.

That five-year measure is due to expire on July 1, 2015. The new tax would take effect that same day.

Before they reached consensus, the board was told by a consulting firm that there seemed to be strong support in the district for an extension of the current tax.

Timothy McLarney, president of True North Research, told the board that a poll taken by his firm earlier this month of 400 Acalanes district voters showed 76 percent of them supported the parcel tax proposal.

"That's an excellent place to start," he said.

McLarney did warn the board that the poll is simply a reflection of how people feel at a certain time and is no guarantee the tax, which needs a two-thirds approval, would pass in May.

"The poll is a snapshot. It's not a crystal ball," he said.

The board quickly agreed to keep the tax at the same $112 per parcel level.

They also agreed to continue the senior exemption for people 65 years of age and older who live in the home they own.

They also dismissed the idea of putting an automatic annual increase on the tax.

There was some discussion on whether to put another five-year term on the new tax or have no sunset clause.

Board members finally agreed the parcel tax is something the district needs and they don't see much assistance coming from the state for a number of years.

"It's an essential part of our budget," said trustee Nancy Kendzierski.

"We need to take care of ourselves," added trustee Tom Mulvaney. "The state isn't going to take care of us."

Kendzierski added having a parcel tax with no end date helps the district plan its budgets better.

There are 36,000 parcels in the 5,400-student Acalanes district, which oversees Acalanes High in Lafayette, Campolindo High in Moraga, Miramonte High in Orinda and Las Lomas High in Walnut Creek.

Steve Cohn January 28, 2014 at 12:57 PM
I am a strong supporter of public and private schools from pre-school through college. I believe that people should pay sufficient taxes to support these and donate voluntarily to allow their favorite schools to excel. But very few taxes should be voted on without any sunset; a time to review. It is like voting in an office-holder for life. I believe the Acalanes Board has made a grave error in note choosing a reasonable sunset, like six years. That would give them enough time to plan ahead and ask for a renewal when the time came. If they go through with this they may find their tax turned back when people generally support what local schools are doing.
Chris Nicholson January 28, 2014 at 02:45 PM
Steve took the words out of my mind/mouth. Exactly. I had the same reaction to the no-sunset concept. In addition, what about Prop 30 and the current surplus at the state level? By rubber stamping more parcel taxes (ESPECIALLY perpetual ones) we are dumbly falling into line with Gov. Brown's intended path to re-trade on the promise of Prop 30 and to increasingly starve districts like the ours....
Richard S. Colman January 29, 2014 at 10:09 AM
The Acalanes Union High School District needs to tell taxpayers how much money, if any, the district received from California's Proposition 30, which was passed by the state's voters in November 2012. Proposition 30, which raised California's sales-tax rate and personal income-tax brackets, was designed to provide extra money for schools. --Richard Colman, Orinda, California.
c5 April 01, 2014 at 01:17 AM
We get the privilege of voting on not just one, but two tax extensions/increases this year. Yippee, our school systems really are looking out for our best interests. Of course both have the usual senior bribe, and disturbingly measure b has no sunset and worst of all, a cola provision. This is horrible policy and a complete affront to taxpayers in this town. The state just passed a massive tax increase and increased school funding sharply, but oh wait, we need these temporary taxes to go on, and in one case forever at higher and higher rates. I might consider voting in favor of measure a which sunsets and does not have a cola, but we should all vote against at least b. There seems to be no end to higher taxes....
JKI April 09, 2014 at 02:32 PM
Ballots are here. No Sunset = Vote No. Hard to fathom why they are trying to get this through as Permanent Tax. They need to come back again with a new Measure incorporating a 3-5 year Sunset clause.
c5 April 14, 2014 at 12:35 PM
Huge tactical mistake to make the tax permanent. Loses votes just as the senior exemption does. Permanence is a non-starter for me, as is a COLA. Senior exemption bribe is difficult for me to stomach but in the case of a and b, I don't have to given the other provisions in there. By the way, the Contra Costa Times has come out against Measures A and B today.

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