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Measure B Passes In Lafayette

With all votes in and counted, Measure B reaches the two-thirds approval it needed to pass.

Voters in Lafayette turned out Tuesday in support of Measure B, a parcel tax appending an additional $176 in taxes on most properties within district boundaries — giving the measure the two-thirds margin it needed to win.

Measure B passed by a margin of 74.3 percent to 25.69 percent, with 10,048 votes cast.

The ballot measure includes a senior-citizen exemption. Any parcel owned and occupied as a principal residence by a person 65 years of age or older would be exempt from the parcel tax upon proper application to the district.

andrea rich May 04, 2011 at 06:01 AM
I'm so proud of our community. Prioritizing education and the future of our children. Thank you to our city council, thank you to our school board, thank you to the tireless volunteers, thank you to my 90 year old neighbor who voted "yes" without question, thank you to our teachers, and thank you to my kindergartener who hasn't seen her mom so much lately since I've been at phone banks! Green hills...great schools...yup, you've got it right. I love Lafayette!
Tony Rodriguez May 04, 2011 at 06:02 AM
Impressive total number of votes and margin of victory.
Michael May 04, 2011 at 01:18 PM
Nice work, Lafayette. And thank you to all the volunteers who worked tirelessly to help make this happen.
Beau Hunk May 04, 2011 at 01:28 PM
Lafayette voters approved school taxes in 2009 and 2010. And now they approved another one in 2011. They certainly are on a roll. Will they approve the 2012, 2013, and 2014 parcel tax increases? Where does it stop?
Dan Perkins May 04, 2011 at 02:00 PM
It stops when the state can get its act together and properly fund the schools...
Larry Pines May 04, 2011 at 02:23 PM
Facing well over $60,000 in PTA funding, plus the City of Lafayette effectively outlawing public election signs, and the consultant-driven District controlling the channels of communication advocating for the tax to anxious parents through their email system, it's hard to get any message across to would-be voters that this 10th Lafayette school tax is unfair to property owners. Also, costly Special Elections guarantee very low voter turnout, and skew the result toward passage. In handing out purely aged-based senior exemptions, the District in effect “buys” the senior vote – a very reliable voting block - putting more financial pressure on everyone else, over time making it more difficult to continue passing such taxes. In effect, parents are just taxing themselves more. In claiming that this 508% increase in the tax over 10 years is a “stable source of funding,” proponents forget that our property tax bills may be viewed as more “stable” by those that don’t have to pay, like seniors and non-homeowners. Seniors now make up almost 30% of Lafayette homeowners and their number is growing. With over half now opting out and more each day as they see the tax balloon, schools are just imploding by allowing them to opt out. Pretty soon 70% of the residents (about half being parents) will be paying for 100% of the school taxes. Lafayette Citizens for Tax Fairness will continue to strive for tax fairness in all future local tax measures effecting our residents.
Dan Perkins May 04, 2011 at 02:26 PM
I agree that senior exemptions are bogus.
JMR May 04, 2011 at 02:40 PM
It wont stop until we stop supplementing it.
Dan Perkins May 04, 2011 at 08:49 PM
Not every community is affluent enough to supplement their public schools and the pain felt in those districts hasn't changed anything so what makes you think not funding the schools in affluent Lafayette will make any difference?
c5 May 04, 2011 at 09:32 PM
while this result is no surprise, i can't wait until we have to extend/increase this 'temporary' tax in four years....if it takes that long which i doubt it will...
Larry May 04, 2011 at 11:23 PM
I would prefer not to see exemptions, either. As a citizen, I'm glad we passed Measure B because educating our children is vital to the future of our state and our country, and increasingly, it is our local communities who must take responsibility, like it or not. Saying it should be different is both true and not very useful. As a Lafayette homeowner, I'm glad we passed Measure B because I believe defeating Measure B would have reduced the value of my house by ten times or more what Measure B will cost me in total. I was thinking about why a rational person would vote against Measure B. A homeowner who plans never to move and has no heirs? Someone very optimistic about change coming from Sacramento or Washington? A homeowner on a fixed income where every dollar is vital? Someone who hopes Lafayette house prices will drop further so they can afford a bigger house? I suspect it is mainly people who think that taxes are just too darn high, no matter what. And though that kind of simplistic approach is appealing, it really means depending on others to initiate the balanced and complex reforms we need. It would be interesting to correlate those voting no with those paying very low property taxes because of Prop 13. I know of a few Lafayette residents who live in million dollar houses, pay effectively no property tax, and voted no on Measure B. To them it may be right and obvious, but to me, they are looking at the future through a paper towel tube.
Chris Nicholson May 04, 2011 at 11:50 PM
@Larry: I am responding to your assessment of impact on value of your home and why a rational person might vote "No." To the extent that home value is correlated with "good schools," a rational person might conclude that the MARGINAL impact (measured in terms of perception in the eyes of potential buyers) of the failure of "B" would be small compared to the current absolute quality of schools. I think buyers look at API test scores and outcomes (college placement, SAT scores). These things are largely correlated with quality (both nature and nurture) of kids and the parents, and less on whether the kids get, for example, 30 minutes of Art instruction per week or have 2 or 3 fewer kids in class with them. Finally, you are only counting the benefits of a perception of better schools-- these benefits are not free. A buyer of a home with a $100, $200 or $1000/year add-on in the form of parcel taxes the are reasonably expected to persist and increase forever would be IRRATIONAL if he didn't DEDUCT the NPV of this tax from the value of the asset he is buying. An alternative that I would support would be to raise the extra money from current parents and willing donors, instead of shifting the burden to others via semi-legitimate means. Oh well, not the end of the world in either case. I hope I have demonstrated that sometimes people who are against taxes are not crazy.
Larry May 05, 2011 at 01:45 AM
Chris: A well reasoned argument that makes some excellent points. I think your suggestion that, I'm paraphrasing, quality parents drive results more than small changes in budget is valid, but over time, a lack of community support for schools will drive away parents who have school quality as their priority. The economic argument is interesting. I calculate the NPV of Measure B at $830 (five years, 2% discount rate) and given a median house value in Lafayette of $750,000, then the COST of Measure B is reducing house values to a rational buyer by 0.11%. There are also reductions in house values because of the perception that taxes are high, and because it is clear that a super-majority is willing to vote for taxes. These add up to some unknown drag on house values. The only quantifiable one is pretty small. So if the costs reduce values, how much do the BENEFITS of Measure B increase values? Clearly for someone buying a house in Lafayette because they want to avoid sending their children to private school, a lot: $95,000 is the NPV of $20,000 per year for five years, 2% discount rate. Two children through high school is even more. For most, though, it is a comparison between public schools, which is harder to monetize. That leaves a rather subjective weighting. Still, given that 100:1 ratio, I don't think it would be too difficult to show that on balance, Measure B (I'm certainly not arguing for all taxes!) makes economic sense for a Lafayette homeowner.
Chris Nicholson May 05, 2011 at 02:29 PM
I think you've gone a bit (asymmetric) "slippery slope" comparing the small ant short-lived "B" on the one hand, versus the full cost of private education on the other. Since you are thinking about the full benefit on one side, you should think about the full cost on the other: all projected parcel taxes forever. History suggests that they never go down, so believing the four year horizon is not really fair. Also recall that only something like 20% of homes face the potential cost of private school (school age kids at home), whereas EVERYONE (except seniors) pays the taxes foreever--- can't really ignore those folks. This feature (some benefit; all pay) is what makes it ABSOLUTELY rational/selfish for CURRENT PARENTS to support all parcel taxes. Their kids get all the benes, and they pay only 20% of the cost. Not a bad deal. Anyway, we understand each other and the weightings are indeed subjective. At this point I think it is best to congratulate the Pro-"B" crowd, hope that the money is well spent and take a fresh and hard look at he overall district budget before the next "emergency" crops up.
andrea rich May 05, 2011 at 04:27 PM
Let's now focus our attention and lively discussion on how we can stabilize education funding at the state level. I think we can all agree that being 47th in the country on education spending is not where we want to be. I invite you all to join Lamorinda pajama-clad kids to "Wake Up California" Tuesday, May 24th from 7-8am before school. We will focus on the dire state of education in our state and how we, as a group of citizens, students, administrators, legislators, parents and teachers can come together to prioritize education in our state. Details to follow...
LafayetteRez May 05, 2011 at 05:45 PM
Direct foreign military and economic aid in 2010 totaled a bit over $41billion and if you delve deeper into the details, you'll find that quite a bit funds corruption, buys cooperation of local warlords, etc in Algeria, Bahrain, Morocco, Oman, QUatar, SaudiAr, UAE, Tunesia, Yemen..., The CIA believes that OBL was in this house for at lest 5 years so what does this say about our policy with our new best Frienemy Pakistan? THey got 2.6Bil in 2010. This $41bil works out to about $310 per year per tax payer. Maybe 3x that or half of your Fed Tax goes to the military. Our government tells us they are not going to pay for our highways, those overseas are more important.. or our schools so we just agreed to fork over another $179/yr with Measure B. This is not a state govt issue - this requires a total reevaluation of how we value education. Where's the outrage? Interesting article: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/01/opinion/01eggers.html?_r=1&scp=2&sq=teachers&st=cse
c5 May 06, 2011 at 01:30 PM
lr, if you point goes to the issue of how highly we as a nation prioritize eduction i am with you...i for one believe that at a state and local level, eduction should ideally be fully funded if at all possible. the questions are what does fully funded mean, and when money is a constraint what takes the hit. unfortunately it is far from clear to me that our eduction spending is all being well spent, and i for one would like to see much more of a performance oriented approach taken with our hard earned tax dollars. i'm not an expert on all the issues, but certainly something like elimination of tenure comes to mind as a way to invigorate our teachers and to give our younger teachers a much better shot at advancement. on the spending prioritization side, what we so far don't grasp is that tough choices must be made. it is far too easy to think we can just keep raising taxes forever to fix problems that are really spending related. the math never works out, and you just have to look at the situation we find our state in, or out federal govt for that matter, to see that the spending side of the equation has to be the focus in order to bring things into balance. we just don't hear that from those in power, certainly not in this state, and certainly not from the current administration in dc. so if we want to fund education better, my choice would be to first fund it more effectively, and second if we still need more $$ (not clear) cut other spending-just not the seals!!

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