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Milpitas Unified School District parcel tax, Measure B (June 2010)

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A Milpitas Unified School District parcel tax, Measure B ballot proposition was on the June 8, 2010 ballot for voters in the Milpitas Unified School District in Santa Clara County, where it was approved.[1]

The proposed tax was a $84/year for five years for all parcels of taxable real estate in the district. The district expected to realize about $1.5 million a year in enhanced revenue from this tax.[2]

Even though the tax was approved, the school district still had to cut expenses. School board president Marsha Grilli said, "I would just like to remind everyone that over the last seven years we have cut $10 million out of this district already, used our reserves and we're looking at another $6 million cuts and I can't imagine where that's going to come from. So that's kind of upsetting to think that even if we do pass this parcel tax, it's not going to stop the cuts that have to be made."[1] The district's budget deficit in 2011-2012 may be as much as $7 million, school officials said.[3]

A 2005 attempt to pass a parcel tax in the district failed, receiving 60% of the vote versus the 2/3rds supermajority vote vote that was required. The 2005 question asked for a $140/year parcel tax that would have lasted for 10 years.[3]

A 2/3rds supermajority vote required for the measure to be enacted.

Election results

Measure B
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 7,002 70.79%
No2,88929.21%
These final, certified results are from the Santa Clara County elections office.

Support

Supporters

Measure B had been endorsed by Congressman Mike Honda, D-Calif; Sen. Ellen Corbett, D-San Leandro; Assemblyman Alberto Torrico, D-Fremont; Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese; and the Milpitas City Council by a 4-1 vote.[3]

Milpitas Mayor Bob Livengood, Vice Mayor Pete McHugh and Councilwoman Althea Polanski also supported the Measure B tax.[4]

A "Friends of Milpitas Schools" group had formed to support Measure B. The group had a seven-member executive committee and a 24-member community committee. Marsha Grilli, who was also the president of the Milpitas Board of Education, was the co-chair of the advocacy organization's executive committee.[3] The campaign committee had raised about $65,000 through the end of April.

Arguments in favor

Assistant Superintendent Cheryl Johnson said that the school district had "been cutting since about 2002, and eliminated close to $13 million in programs," including library, counselor, and elementary music programs. Passing the parcel tax would help the district avoid further cuts, she said.[5]

The San Jose Mercury News endorsed a "yes" vote on Measure B, saying, "Without an extra $1.6 million from the tax, the district will increase class sizes in early grades, eliminate elementary science teachers and shorten the school year. Voters shouldn't let that happen."[6]

Opposition

Opponents

Official ballot guide arguments against Measure B were submitted by:

  • Brian Darby, chair of the Libertarian Party of Santa Clara County.
  • Doug McNea, president of the Silicon Valley Taxpayers Association
  • Al Newman, a Milpitas resident.

Arguments against

Their argument against Measure B said, "Record numbers of Milpitans are unemployed. Record numbers are threatened with the loss of their homes. Yet in the face of these threats, the school district wants to increase the burden on taxpayers. The school district wants to make Milpitas a less affordable, less attractive place to live."[3]

The argument against Measure B went on to say, "In 2005 the school district claimed that a 'budget crisis' was looming and they needed a parcel tax. After that attempt failed, the district raised salaries 7 percent in one year, nearly 17 percent from 2005 to 2009. The superintendent's salary went from $154,110 in the 2004-05 school year to $207,104 today a 34 percent increase. These are not the signs of a school district that truly believed they were dealing with a budget crisis."[3]

Helen McDermont of Milpitas spoke out against Measure B in the local press, writing, "Finally, a yes vote on Measure B is a vote for more intense lobbying on future taxes. The more money we give to grow the school bureaucracy, the more lobbying, for ever more taxes will await us next time around. Real per pupil education spending, and taxes, in California have been going up, and up, and up in the past 30 years, yet education quality remains at the same mediocre levels."[7]

Text of measure

The question on the ballot:

Milpitas Unified School District high quality education and local control measure

To help protect local schools from state budget cuts; provide revenue to stabilize local school funding; help maintain existing math, science, engineering, arts, music, athletic programs and smaller class sizes; and help prevent reduction in classroom instruction days, shall the Milpitas Unified School District assess an annual parcel tax of $84 for 5 years, with annual audits, exemptions for senior citizens, no money for district office administrators, and citizen oversight?[8]

Polling

Fairbank, Maslin, Maullin, Metz & Associates conducted a poll to learn about how voters in the district are likely to view a parcel tax in October 2009. The school district paid the consulting firm $20,000 for their work on the poll.[9]

See also

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