West Contra Costa Unified School District parcel tax, Measure K (June 2012)
This measure was defeated; if it had been approved, the measure would have increased and extended the duration of a school parcel tax already paid by property owners in the school district.
- The current parcel tax of 7.2 cents per square foot would have increased to 10.2 cents a square foot. This would have increased the annual payment for the typical home owner in the district by about $60 a year.
- The increased tax would have been extended through 2017. Since the June 5 measure was not approved, the current tax will end in 2014.
The existing tax brings in $9.6 million to the school district each year. If the June 5 measure had been approved by voters, the district's revenue from the parcel tax would have increased to about $13.6 million a year. The existing tax was first approved in 2004. In 2008, voters approved Measure D, which extended the 2004 tax through 2014.
In the wake of the defeat of Measure K, the governing board of the school district voted to put two new proposals on the November 6, 2012 ballot; one to extend the term of the parcel tax beyond 2014 but without raising it and another to borrow $360 million on a 10-year repayment plan.
- School board president Charles Ramsey said, ""if the parcel tax doesn't pass, class-size reduction is gone."
- In an eight-page, large-format, English-Spanish brochure mailed to voters by the school district, the school board said, "The need for local funding for our schools is greater now than ever. Our proposed parcel tax reauthorization and increase on the June ballot is intended to meet that need."
- School superintendent Bruce Harter said in a statement to the school board, "[the State of California has] dramatically reduced funding for K-12 education. By statute the per pupil revenue limit for 2012-13 should be $6,742 but due to the financial crisis and the Legislature's inability to fund public education in California, West Contra Costa Unified School District will receive only $4,911. The total loss of revenue to WCCUSD is more than $40 million."
- Karen Shebek, a parent of two students in the district, said, "The renewal of the parcel tax is critical. Over the last 4 years, WCCUSD has lost $40 million in state and federal funding. Most taxpayers are paying less to the government – either through the reduced vehicle license fees that Arnold promised, or the tax cuts enacted by the federal government. As a result, WCCUSD students are getting less. To offset just a portion those losses, Measure K would slightly increase the renewal by roughly $40 a parcel, with the largest payments coming from businesses like Chevron."
The editorial board of the Contra Costa Times opposed Measure K, saying, "This district has gone to the tax well too many times. District leaders brag that their massive school construction program enjoys widespread voter support. But for each of five bond measures put to voters, the ballot analysis referred only to the immediate proposal, hiding previously approved costs...For the owner of a district-average 1,367-square-foot home with an assessed value of $215,125, total annual school taxes would increase from $708 to $749. The bill would be more for larger homes and those with greater assessed value. That's not fair to property owners in some of the Bay Area's poorest communities."
The question on the ballot:
|MEASURE K: "To provide local funding the State cannot take away, preserve quality education including: reading, writing, math, science; maintaining reduced class sizes for the youngest children; retaining quality teachers; supporting libraries, improving campus safety; preparing students for college/workforce; shall West Contra Costa Unified School District renew its existing parcel tax for five years, increasing it by three cents/square foot of building area or three dollars/vacant parcel, with no funds for administrator salaries, exempting seniors and requiring citizen oversight?"|
Path to the ballot
The board commissioned a poll from Godbe Research in September 2011 to measure the likelihood that voters in the district would vote in favor of the parcel tax measure.
- West Contra Costa Unified School District website
- Text of resolution authorizing the parcel tax vote
- Contra Costa Times, "West Contra Costa school board unanimously agrees to ask voters for more parcel tax money", February 17, 2012
- Contra Costa Times, "WCCUSD board to consider parcel tax tonight", February 15, 2012
- El Cerrito Patch, "Schools Parcel Tax, Police in Schools: Topics at Council - School Board Joint Meeting"
- El Cerrito Patch, "Parcel Tax Increase for Schools on Ballot for West County"
- Hercules Patch, "Yes on Measure K – Setting the Record Straight", May 15, 2012
- Contra Costa Times, "Contra Costa Times editorial: Two school districts asking for too much from property owners", April 19, 2012