Lafayette School District Parcel Tax Question, Measure B (May 2014)
|Voting on Taxes|
|Not on ballot|
If approved, Measure B would combine and renew two previous parcel taxes, Measure J and Measure B, set to expire in 2015. The combined parcel tax amount going forward would be $539 per parcel per year. This parcel tax would have no automatic sunset built in and would include an exemption for seniors and a cost of living adjustment.
The parcel taxes in question provide about $4.6 million per year, amounting to 15 percent of the district's budget.
A 2/3rds supermajority vote is required for approval.
Text of measure
The official ballot question for Measure B is:
Without increasing existing tax rates, and to preserve high quality academic programs in Lafayette elementary and middle schools in math, science, art, and music; attract and retain highly qualified teachers; keep classroom technology, science labs and instructional materials up-to-date, and maintain manageable class sizes, shall Lafayette School District extend the expiring $539 local school tax, with an exemption for seniors, an annual cost-of-living adjustment, and with all money staying in Lafayette to benefit our public schools?
The county counsel provided the following impartial analysis for Measure B:
The Governing Board of the Lafayette School District has adopted a resolution proposing a parcel tax (a qualified special tax). This ballot measure asks voters to decide whether a parcel tax should be imposed on parcels within the District beginning July 1, 2015.
District voters previously approved the Measure J parcel tax in 2007, and the Measure B parcel tax in 2011. Those parcel taxes are set to expire in 2015, according to the District. If this measure passes, a parcel tax of $539 per year would be levied on each parcel of taxable real property within the District beginning July 1, 2015. The amount of the parcel tax would increase annually based on the rate of inflation, but not by more than 3% per year. The measure does not include an expiration date for the parcel tax.
A parcel of taxable real property is any unit of real property located in the District that receives a separate property tax bill from the Contra Costa County Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office. The parcel tax would not be levied on parcels that are exempt from paying property taxes. The measure also provides that any person 65 years of age or older whose property serves as the person's principal residence may apply to the District to be exempt from payment of the tax. The ballot measure states that the proceeds from the parcel tax will be used to fund "core academic programs in math, science and technology," "the ability to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and school employees," "continued support for art and music programs," "up-to-date textbooks and instructional materials, classroom computers, technology and science labs," and "manageable class sizes." Proceeds from the parcel tax may be used only for the specific purposes set forth in the ballot measure and according to constitutional and statutory provisions.
State law requires the District's chief fiscal officer to file an annual report with the District's Governing Board that states the amount of funds received and expended in each year and the status of any projects required or authorized to be funded with parcel tax proceeds. State law also requires the proceeds from the parcel tax to be deposited into a designated account.
Two-thirds of those voting on the ballot measure must approve the measure for it to pass.
A "yes" vote is a vote in favor of authorizing the parcel tax.
A "no" vote is a vote against authorizing the parcel tax 
—Contra Costa County Counsel, 
School superintendent Rachel Zinn said, "Loss of this funding would be devastating."
The following people signed the official arguments in favor of Measure B:
- Ed Stokes, district resident and owner Diablo Foods
- Dana Green, realtor
- Erling L. Horn, former mayor
- Toni McShane, assistant vice principal of Stanley Middle School
- David Douglas, district resdient and business owner
Arguments in favor
The official arguments submitted in favor of Measure B were:
Without raising tax rates, Measure B will continue critical local funding for core academic programs in math, science, English, technology, and the arts to prepare Lafayette School District students for success in high school and beyond. Lafayette schools are among the highest performing schools in California. The strong academic achievement in our local schools contributes to the quality of life in Lafayette and helps protect local property values. Measure B renews existing local taxes that are expiring. It does not increase tax rates.
For over 20 years, our community has generously supported our neighborhood schools by approving local revenue measures. Our schools rely on this generous support to provide a high-quality education to Lafayette students. Measure B simply extends the local funding that homeowners already pay.
Measure B will provide vital funding to preserve:
Without approval of Measure B, significant cuts will need to be made to core academic programs. Measure B merely continues the financial support that Lafayette residents have historically approved, without raising tax rates.
Measure B will continue the local funding that our community provides to our elementary and middle school students. NO funds can be taken away by the State or used for other purposes.
Measure B funds can only be spent on programs listed in the measure and approved by voters. Mandatory annual audits will ensure that all funds are spent properly. Senior citizens will be offered an exemption.
Please continue your support of Lafayette schools. Please vote Yes on Measures A and B. 
—Ed Stokes, Dana Green, Erling L. Horn, Toni McShane, David Douglas, 
- Bruce R. Peterson submitted the official arguments in opposition to Measure B, as well as the arguments against Measure A.
The following arguments were submitted in opposition to Measure B:
Wow! An annual cost of living adjustment. That could mean anything. Tax money is squandered on trains, consultants and overpaid, arrogant administrators. What the public wants the most, is always on the ballot. It's usually schools, more schools, then roads. Then public money is squandered on everything else.
When will the foolish public wise up? With $651 or more, that could easily be kept off their property tax bills, some people might wise up.
The senior exemption is a trick to convince people to vote their own home's future owners, out of their money.
Some seniors won't remember to apply, fill out, or return their exemption form. They will be gouged without mercy.
Some seniors file their exemption, then promote tax increases..
Propagandists use treacherous tactics and the corrupt media, to promote their cause. Wealthy folks and huge rental complexes, are charged the same amount as the poorest person in the district. What's fair about that?
If voters ever wise up enough to vote against every tax that appears on the ballot, the bureaucracies will have to become more efficient. But no! They keep squandering money. Many bureaucracies go into debt, with no easy way out.
Propagandists will do everything possible to convince people NOT to read this free fine print against their tax.
Politicians never want people to ask questions. This tax was announced days before the deadline for filing arguments. How's that for trying to cheat?
I can't find a news source that will write anything slightly detrimental about the politicians or their parcel taxes. The media always insults tax opponents.
However you vote, it's 100% certain, the politicians and their media comrades will demand more money from you. 
—Bruce R Peterson, 
- Measure A: Acalanes Union High School District Parcel Tax Question
- California parcel tax on the ballot
- Parcel tax elections in California
- May 6, 2014 ballot measures in California
- Contra Costa County, California ballot measures
- Contra Costa Times, "Acalanes, Lafayette school districts approve parcel taxes for May ballot," January 30, 2014
- Lamorinda Weekly, "Greenlight on Lafayette School District Parcel Tax," February 12, 2014
- Contra Costa County Registrar of Voters, May 6, 2014, Measure B information, accessed February 19, 2014
- Note: This text is quoted verbatim from the original source. Any inconsistencies are attributed to the original source.
- League of Women Voters of California Education Fund, "Measure B Parcel Tax Extension Lafayette School District," accessed April 7, 2014