John Swett Unified School District parcel tax, Measure A (May 2011)
Measure A, if it had been approved, would have imposed a parcel tax of $60 per parcel for four years for residential parcels. Commercial parcels would have been taxed at the rate of $0.0085/square foot.
A 2/3rds supermajority vote was required for approval.
The defeat of Measure A represents the sixth time that voters in the John Swett Unified School District have rejected a parcel tax request.
- Election results from the Contra Costa County elections office as of May 10, 2011.
Mike McLaughlin, the school district's superintendent, supported the tax. "I try to always be optimistic. I feel that our 'yes' vote will at least be higher than before. I hope it's enough."
The parcel tax was opposed by ConocoPhillips, which has a refinery in Rodeo. Mark Hughes, a spokesperson for ConocoPhillips, said, "The tax places an unfair burden on local businesses, including the refinery. We're concerned about the impact that would have on employment and jobs during this difficult economic recession."
If Measure A had passed, ConocoPhillips would have had to pay about $440,000 a year in additional parcel taxes.
Text of measure
Deborah Lowe filed a lawsuit over Measure A's ballot language. The lawsuit asserted that the official ballot question text was "full of extraneous and qualitative terms, rather than presenting a fair and impartial description of the parcel tax to voters." Lowe specifically objected to the phrases "retain highly qualified teachers," "citizens oversight," "senior exemption," and "funds spent locally and not taken by the state."
This was the text of the Measure A ballot question before Lowe's lawsuit led to the school district agreeing to change the wording. Words and phrases in bold italics do not appear in the final version.
|To maintain academic programs including math, science, reading, writing, music, art and computer technology and retain highly qualified teachers at Rodeo Hills Elementary, Carquinez Middle and John Swett and Willow High Schools; shall John Swett Unified School District levy a special tax of $60 per parcel for four years, except industrial/commercial parcels levied at $0.0085 per square foot (see voter pamphlet), with citizens' oversight, senior exemption and all funds spent locally and not taken by the state?|
|To maintain academic programs including math, science, reading, writing, music, art, and computer technology and retain teachers and other staff, except administrators, at Rodeo Hills Elementary, Carquinez Middle and John Swett and Willow High Schools; shall John Swett Unified School District levy a special tax of $60 per parcel for four years, except industrial/commercial parcels levied at $0.0085 per square foot (see voter pamphlet) with citizens' oversight and other applicable accountability measures?|
- Effective Governance Teams, "May 3 School Parcel Tax Results," May 3, 2011
- Mercury News, "John Swett educators hopeful about Tuesday's tax election," April 29, 2011
- Bay Citizen, "School Districts Call in Cavalry of Consultants to Push Parcel Taxes," April 28, 2011
- Mercury News, "Tough campaign ahead for John Swett parcel tax," March 18, 2011