LWV League of Women Voters of California
Smart Voter
San Mateo County, CA November 5, 2002 Election
Measure A
Parcel Tax for School Programs
Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District

Special Tax - 2/3 Voter Approval Required

6,566 / 65.3% Yes votes ...... 3,482 / 34.7% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Dec 6 2:34am, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (42/42 0/12 Absentee)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments | Full Text

To provide competitive salaries to keep experienced, qualified teachers from leaving, prevent library closures, preserve science, music/other programs, shall Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District collect $126/year/taxable parcel tax for ten years beginning July 1, 2003, with required citizen oversight, exemptions for parcels owned/occupied by persons 65 years or older, and annual cost of living increase capped at 3% to maintain competitive teacher salaries, and shall the District's annual appropriations limit be raised by such amount?

Impartial Analysis
The California Constitution and state law authorize a school district, upon approval of two-thirds of the voting electorate, to levy a qualified special tax for specified purposes.

By this measure, the Board of Trustees of the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District propose to levy a special tax for a period of ten years beginning July 1, 2003 and ending July 1, 2013. This tax shall be at a rate not to exceed $126 per year, adjusted annually by changes in the Consumer Price Index for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Metropolitan Area Consumer Price Index, but in no event shall increase by more than 3% per year, on all taxable parcels in the District.

A parcel shall be defined as any unit of land in the District which receives a separate tax bill from the County Assessor. All property which would otherwise be exempt from property taxes will also be exempt from the imposition of said special tax. Any property owner aged 65 years or older may qualify for an exemption from the special tax if the property owner occupies the parcel.

The stated purposes of the special tax are for teacher salaries, school libraries, science and music programs. The Board of Trustees must file an annual report accounting for the parcel tax revenues collected and the manner in which they have been spent. A community oversight committee of volunteers shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees to oversee all expenditures funded by the measure to ensure that said funds are used only for purposes approved the voters.

This measure would also increase the District's appropriations limit per fiscal year, in an amount equal to the levy of the special tax for that year, as permitted by Article XIIIB, section 4 of the California Constitution.

A "yes" vote on this measure would allow a special tax to be levied on property within the boundaries of the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District in an amount of up to $126 per year, adjusted annually by changes in the Consumer Price Index for the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Metropolitan Area Consumer Price Index, but in no event shall increase by more than 3% per year, per taxable parcel in the District to be used for teacher salaries, school libraries, science and music programs. It would also allow the appropriations (spending) limit to be raised.

A "no" vote on this measure would not allow the special tax to be levied and would not allow the appropriations limit to be raised.

This measure passes if two-thirds of those voting on the measure vote "yes."

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Arguments For Measure A Arguments Against Measure A
The Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District is a valuable community asset. Our local elementary and middle schools feature highly-qualified, experienced teachers, accessible school libraries, a well-rounded curriculum and a strong commitment to teaching basic skills.Local students consistently score well on statewide tests.

The most important factor in a quality education is a qualified, experienced teacher in the classroom. Today, the Bay Area's high cost of living and California's overall teacher shortage make it increasingly difficult to attract and retain enough qualified teachers in our local K-8 schools. Without increased funding, our schools will be unable to compete with neighboring districts to provide great teachers in Belmont-Redwood Shores classrooms.

Measure A will allow our local K-8 schools to keep great teachers by offering salaries which are competitive with neighboring districts.

Measure A will also prevent cuts to important academic programs and ensure that our students continue receiving an excellent, comprehensive education.

The Belmont-Redwood Shores School District has already cut over $1 million from its budget in the past three years by reducing administrative and clerical staff, cutting supply budgets, and containing other costs. Future budget cuts threaten the very programs that are important to a well-rounded education:
Art
Music
Science
Libraries
Middle school electives like foreign language, technology and vocational skills.

An independent citizens' oversight committee will review all expenditures to ensure that every dollar directly benefits student learning.

Senior citizens 65 or older can choose to exempt themselves from this assessment.

The high quality of our local schools is important for families and helps keep area property values high. Please help the Belmont-Redwood Shores School District keep our great teachers and preserve the high quality of education our community expects.

Join parents, teachers and hundreds of your neighbors in voting YES on Measure A.

/s/ Dave Warden
Mayor of Belmont

/s/ Rosanne Foust
Redwood City-San Mateo County Chamber of Commerce Chair-Elect

/s/ Howard Mason
Belmont City Treasurer

/s/ Helen Kauffold
Belmont Chamber of Commerce 2002 Educator of the Year

/s/ Jeff Gee
Redwood Shores Parent

Rebuttal to Arguments For
What part of NO don't they understand?

We already rejected this parcel tax--less than 2 years ago! Only 14% of the district's registered voters supported the tax then, and it would be a travesty of democracy if they can sneak it by now, in a low turnout mid-term election.

The most important factor: Parents

In any given class--even in the best-funded schools (like ours)--some students thrive, and others don't. The most important factors for individual student achievement are parental education, parental income, and home environment.

More money for the school bureaucracy won't improve students' homes, while a $1,400 parcel tax will affect parents' net incomes negatively, reducing the amount they can spend on their own children.

Bondage: Property owners (and renters) are already paying a surtax for the school district's $12 million bond, approved in 1997. That extra tax will continue for another 20 years.

Does this look like three years of budget cutting to you?

Here is the most current revenue data available from the state's Ed-Data web site:

District RevenueRevenue per Student Attending
94/95$8,827,976 $4,138
95/96$9,511,149 $4,309
96/97$11,140,248 $4,781
97/98$12,053,334 $5,039
98/99$14,127,650 $5,750
99/00$15,715,058 $6,862
00/01$17,423,773 $7,248

Have you noticed? Property values increase when we don't pay unnecessary parcel taxes!

/s/ Linden Hsu
Secretary, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Harland Harrison
20-Year Belmont resident

/s/ Christopher V.A. Schmidt
Retired Computer Professional

Our schools are well funded.

Last year, District taxpayers (including renters) contributed $12 million in property taxes to the elementary school district, and other taxes brought the total to over $17 million. (http://www.ed-data.k12.ca.us/dev/District.asp)

$17 million for 2400 students amounts to $150,000 per classroom of 21 students. That's enough to pay teachers very good wages--and leave plenty for building maintenance and overhead.

Budget cuts??

In March 2001, they claimed financial doom was imminent if voters didn't approve a parcel tax. Their ballot measure failed, yet the sky didn't fall. Chicken Little was proven wrong, and revenue increased from $14 million to $17 million--without any parcel tax.

This was no surprise, since government is not in the habit of lowering anybody's taxes.

ONCE AGAIN, they threaten to axe popular programs if you don't give them what they want. But, once again, they dissemble. We consider it bad taste to pretend to use teachers and school children as hostages, when their budget is in fine shape. Meanwhile, others are suffering through a real recession.

Many of our neighbors live close to the edge of genuine insolvency. Hitting them with this $1,400 parcel tax (even stretched over 10 years) will have a painful impact on their lives. Paying this tax could mean missing a critical mortgage payment, or a health insurance premium, or drowning in credit card debt. People who carry the balance on their credit cards will see this tax cost them $4,300 (with interest) in just 10 years.

Have a heart. Don't raise taxes on our most vulnerable residents. Vote against this greedy money grab.

/s/ Linden Hsu
Secretary, Libertarian Party of San Mateo County

/s/ Fred A. Graham
Belmont Resident for more than 20 years

/s/ Harland Harrison
Belmont Parent

/s/ Christopher V.A. Schmidt
Retired Computer Professional

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
Opponents Use Exaggerated Numbers

Sadly, Measure A's opponents have invented and exaggerated numbers to confuse voters. One ridiculous claim assumes property owners will pay taxes by credit card and leave the entire balance and interest unpaid for ten years!

Seniors Exempt

Everyone is concerned during tough economic times, including seniors on fixed incomes who may be unable to afford a tax increase. That's why Measure A exempts seniors. Measure A also protects all taxpayers-funds can ONLY be used for voter-approved purposes.

Community Oversight Required

Independent audits consistently show the Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District manages its budget wisely. For added accountability, Measure A creates an independent community oversight committee to monitor all expenditures and provide annual reports to the community # to ensure your tax dollars are spent prudently.

Teacher Salaries NOT Competitive

Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District offers compensation that is ninth out of ten local districts for qualified, experienced teachers. During the current teacher shortage, California issues "emergency certification" to thousands of unqualified teachers. Measure A will keep qualified, experienced teachers in local classrooms.

Elementary and middle school years make a big difference in children's lives. Measure A will support the teaching of the basics and prevent cutbacks to programs that promote a well-rounded education.

Measure A is fair, balanced, and responsible. All Measure A funds will stay in local schools, not be taken by the state. Measure A is vital for our children's future. Our schools need additional funding to maintain high-quality education. Don't let our children down. Vote YES on Measure A.

/s/ George Metropulos
Belmont-Redwood Shores 3rd Grade Teacher

/s/ John Violet
Belmont Finance Commissioner

/s/ Frank Scarpace
Retired Accountant

/s/ Paula Meier
Redwood Shores Parent

/s/ Denise Shackleton
Former Belmont-Redwood Shores P.T.A. President

Full Text of Measure A
To maintain high-quality education in local elementary schools; attract and retain experienced, qualified teachers; keep school libraries open; preserve music, science and other programs, shall Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District collect a parcel tax of $126 per year per taxable parcel, with required citizen oversight, exemptions for parcels owned and occupied by persons 65 years or older, adjusted annually by the San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose Metropolitan Area Consumer Price Index to maintain competitive teacher salaries (in no event shall it increase by more than 3% per year) for ten years beginning July 1, 2003, and shall the District's annual appropriations limit be raised by such amount, by undertaking actions such as: (a) Providing competitive salaries to attract high quality teachers and keep experienced teachers from leaving local schools for neighboring districts or the private sector; and (b) Keeping school libraries open and available to children; and (c) Maintaining a well-rounded education by preventing cutbacks to music, science, and other programs; (d) Supporting the teaching of the basics, including reading, writing, and math.

An exemption shall be granted for any parcel owned by one or more persons 65 years of age or over who occupies said parcel as a principal residence, upon one-time application for exemption.

This Measure will also increase the District's Gann Appropriation Limit in an amount equal to the levy of special taxes for said year, as permitted by Article XIIIB, Section 4 of the California Constitution. This increase is required for the District to use the revenues generated by the tax.

To insure additional accountability, an independent community oversight committee of volunteers shall be appointed by the Board of Trustees to oversee all expenditures funded by the measure to ensure that said funds are spent wisely and used only for purposes approved by the voters. The oversight committee shall monitor the expenditures of these funds by the District and shall report on an annual basis to the community on how these funds have been spent.


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Created: December 6, 2002 03:15 PST
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