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Acalanes Union High School District parcel tax, Measure G (November 2009)

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Logo of the Acalanes Union High School District
An Acalanes Union High School District parcel tax, Measure G ballot question was on the November 3, 2009 ballot for voters in the Acalanes Union High School District in Contra Costa County, California, where it was approved.[1][2]

Measure G replaced the district's then-current $189 per-year tax, which was set to expire in June 2011, with a new tax of the same amount but with no expiration date. The tax raises approximately $7 million a year for the district.[3][4]

In November 2008, the district's voters approved Acalanes Union Measure E, a $93 million bond.

In February 2010, the district voted to place another parcel tax, Measure A, on the May 4, 2010 ballot. Measure A, a $112/year parcel tax, was also approved.

Election results

Measure G
ResultVotesPercentage
Approveda Yes 28,429 74.5%
No9,72925.5%
These final, certified, election results are from the Contra Costa County election office.

Background

According to the California School Finance Center, the per pupil cost in the Acalanes Union High School District is on average $16,086.79/year.[5]

The district serves high school students from the Orinda, Moraga, Lafayette and Walnut Creek school districts.[6]

Money coming into the Acalanes Union district decreased from $56 million to $49 million in the two years leading up to the November 2009 election.

Support

  • The school board and school administration supported Measure G. School board member Tom Mulvaney told a local newspaper, "Staff and board members have been reaching out to community groups such as parent clubs and service organizations for their support." Superintendent John Stockton said "There also have been mailings and phone banking in support of the measure."[7]
  • The editorial board of the "Contra Costa Times" endorsed Measure G. They wrote, "While we back the measures, which require approval of two-thirds of the voters, we do so with some reservations. Voters should be aware that they are being asked to indefinitely extend existing parcel taxes. The current taxes are due to expire in 2011. Measures G and H have no sunset provisions."[6][8]

Opposition

Ken Hambrick of the Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers opposed Measure G.

Hambrick is a critic of how the school district has managed its bond funds. The district has used the controversial technique of refinancing its bond measures four times, on April 6, 2004, May 3, 2004, January 1, 2005 and December 14, 2005.[9]

Hambrick also said:

  • AUSD "made misleading statements in their 2008 bond campaign that our taxes would not go up. But they did go up."
  • AUSD "illegally refinanced bonds four times in 2004 and 2005. By so doing, they increased the amount of the bonds without voter approval."
  • They "want us to give them a 'forever parcel tax.' A 'forever tax' makes no sense at all. Future generations will be stuck with this tax without a chance to vote on it. And they will never get a chance to review it and the economic needs of the district.
  • "Words which should apply to a school district — words like honesty, ethics and integrity — just don't come into play when the Acalanes district goes after money.[10]

In January 2009, California Attorney General Jerry Brown said that this type of refinancing of bond debt is unconstitutional.[11] The refinancings are unconstitutional because they increase the bond debt owed by a school district without the voters of the district having any say over whether they want to increase the amount owed.

According to an article in "Bloomberg," a national financial publication:

"In the largest sale in 2005, Acalanes refinanced $46.4 million in 2002 bonds. Yields on the 10-year portion of the new 20-year bonds dropped to 4.45 percent, from 5.62 percent, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Still, the debt increased to $48.7 million after the district took cash of $1.2 million and paid costs of $663,048, or 55 percent of the new money.
Piper Jaffray collected $450,866, a fee equal to $10 for each $1,000 issued, about three times the national average. The new 20-year bonds required a jump in annual payments to $2.2 million a year from $1.2 million in the first two years of the debt, beginning in 2005, bond documents show.
County tax officials more than tripled the tax rate on the refinancing in the first two years after the transaction. The public could pay out less after 20 years, when the bonds are paid off, if the county holds property tax rates steady.
In the four Acalanes sales, the district spent an average of 41 percent of its upfront cash -- $1.6 million -- on fees, bond documents show."[11]
  • The Contra Costa Taxpayers Association is opposed to Measure G, according to its executive director Kris Hunt. As a public policy measure, this group does not think that parcel taxes should be made permanent.[7]

Polling

A survey taken in summer 2009 indicated that about 90% of likely voters in the school district were in favor of making the district's parcel tax permanent.[7]

Ballot question

The question on the ballot:

This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.

Measure G: "To provide stable local funding at our high schools and protect core academic programs from deep State budget cuts; preserve science, mathematics, arts, music and foreign language courses; and maintain library hours, shall Acalanes Union High School District renew and replace its parcel tax with one that continues the current annual rate of one hundred eighty-nine dollars per parcel, with an exemption for seniors, with all funds benefitting local high schools, and with an independent citizens’ oversight committee?"

See also

External links

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