Sample ballots and voter information pamphlets for the proposed $98 a year parcel tax were sent to voters last week. Details of the parcel tax proposals as well as arguments for and against the measure are included in that material.
The actual ballot mailed starting Monday includes a postage-paid return envelope. The marked ballot is due back at the Alameda County Registrar's office by close of business Tuesday, May 3. Postmarks will not count, so voters are being urged to vote early to ensure their ballots are received by the registrar by 8 p.m. May 3.
If approved by two-thirds of the votes cast in this special mail-in ballot election, each parcel of taxable real property in the school district will be assessed $98 a year for a total of four years. For purposes of this special tax, "parcel" means any parcel of land that receives a separate tax bill from the Alameda County tax collector, large or small.
This marks the second time that the Pleasanton school district has asked voters to approve a parcel tax. Measure G, which sought approval of a $290 a year parcel tax, was defeated in June 2009 by a narrow margin. This time, the school board hired a consulting firm to conduct a public survey, which showed that more than two-thirds of those queried would support a parcel tax of under $100, but not a higher amount. The board chose to set the proposed tax at $98 and also to limit it to four years at the most.
Faced with a budget deficit of $7.7 million, the school board agreed to seek a parcel tax again in hopes of continuing some programs that otherwise would be cut. Already, the district has made tentative cuts in personnel, with 67 teachers, 25 school staff and 17 administrators and other services on the chopping block for a total of $3.5 million unless more funds come in. Although Measure E would not prevent all of the cuts, district officials said it could prevent the most devastating by providing stable and predictable funding.
With Gov. Jerry Brown's decision last week to call off negotiations for legislative approval of his much-touted special election in June to extend higher taxes on income, vehicles and sales, hopes are dimming for school districts around the state, including Pleasanton's, to see an uptick in state education funds.
The Pleasanton district, skeptical anyhow that the Brown plan would succeed, moved forward on preparing a fiscal 2011-12 budget without any of the increases his tax measure might have produced.