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Smart Voter
Contra Costa County, CA November 2, 2010 Election
Measure M
Parcel Tax
West Contra Costa Unified School District

2/3 Approval Required

Fail: 35078 / 59.36% Yes votes ...... 24017 / 40.64% No votes

See Also: Index of all Measures

Results as of Nov 30 11:25am, 100.0% of Precincts Reporting (144/144)
Information shown below: Impartial Analysis | Arguments |

To provide local funding the State cannot take away, and preserve quality education by: providing manageable class sizes to improve core academics like math, science, reading/ writing, restoring arts/ music programs, attracting/ retaining quality teachers, improving campus safety/ cleanliness, preparing students for college and workforce, shall West Contra Costa Unified School District charge an annual tax of 7.2 cents per square foot of building area, or $7.20 per vacant parcel for five years, exempting seniors and requiring independent citizen oversight?

Impartial Analysis from County Counsel
The governing board of the West Contra Costa Unified 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 of taxable real property within the District for five years, beginning July 1, 2011. The proposed tax would expire June 30, 2015.

The tax would apply to each parcel of taxable real property in the District. If a parcel has a building on it, the tax would be 7.2 cents per square foot of total building area on the parcel. That means the annual tax on a parcel with a 1,500 square-foot building would be $108. The annual tax on a vacant parcel would be $7.20. A parcel of taxable real property is any unit of real property in the District that receives a separate tax bill for property taxes from the Contra Costa County Treasurer-Tax Collector's Office. A parcel otherwise exempt from property taxes will also be exempt from the imposition of the parcel tax.

The ballot measure includes a senior citizen exemption. Any parcel owned and occupied as a principal residence by a person 65 years of age or older would be exempt from the parcel tax upon proper application to the District.

The ballot measure states that the proceeds of the parcel tax will be used to provide manageable class sizes to improve core academics like math, science, reading, and writing, restore arts and music programs, attract and retain quality teachers, improve campus safety and cleanliness, and prepare students for college and the workforce. 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. The proceeds from the parcel tax will be deposited into a District account that will be kept separate from other District accounts.

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 for a five-year period of time.

A "no" vote is a vote against authorizing the parcel tax for a five-year period of time.

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Arguments For Measure M Arguments Against Measure M
The State of California can no longer be depended upon to adequately support our local schools. For years, politicians from outside of our community have chipped away at funding for class-size reduction, important after-school activities, and even support for core subjects such as reading, writing, and math.

But Measure M will ensure that our community's schools will no longer be victimized by the unstable political environment of Sacramento. Measure M will fund critical in-class programs in our local schools ++ and the State cannot take that funding away!

Measure M will enable our schools to provide:

  • Smaller class sizes
  • Safer classrooms and school campuses
  • Well trained teachers committed to our schools
  • Programs that prepare our students for college and the workforce
  • Support for core subjects including reading, writing and math

Measure M will provide in-class programmatic stability for our schools. This will allow our school principals, administrators, and teachers to create their long-range plans knowing that critical core subjects, educational basics, and college readiness programs won't be taken away due to statewide politics beyond our control.

Measure M also requires taxpayer protections including:

  • An exemption for qualified senior citizens
  • A citizen oversight committee
  • Independent financial audits

By law, Measure M can only be used for our community's schools. Measure M stabilizes funding for our schools' most important in-class programs. Please join parents, school principals, business owners, and community leaders in voting YES on Measure M.

Susan J. Wittenberg, Founder and Former Executive Director, West County Ed Fund

Michele Lamons, Pinole Valley High School Educator

Cathy Garza, Parent and Former Bayside Council PTA President

McKinley Williams, Educator and El Sobrante Citizen

Arthur J. Hatchett, Citizen of West Contra Costa Co., Executive Director at G.R.I.P.

Rebuttal to Arguments For
Your property tax bill (or that of your landlord) already includes assessments to pay the following for West Contra Unified School District:

  • 1998 - $40,000,000 bond
  • 2000 - $150,000,000 bond
  • 2002 - $300,000,000 bond
  • 2005 - $400,000,000 bond
  • 2010 - $380,000,000 bond
  • November 2008 parcel tax
  • Maintenance and Recreation Assessment District (MRAD) - $78 per parcel

There's no mention of these in the measure. Where are the disclosures? The last bond was just passed in June. Now they want more. Where and when will it end? You will pay for the bonds for 30 years and the amount you currently pay will increase even if no new assessments are added... and the interest attached to them does not go toward building a classroom or repairing a school

How can our residents allow more increases?

What of those on limited incomes? The School District promises an "exemption for qualified seniors" + only those who own their home and only if they file an application annually. But not only seniors are on tight budgets.

The District has asked for funds to bridge the gap left by the withdrawal of State funding. But the District has long been in debt, and is still repaying bail-out funds loaned by the State to avoid bankruptcy. Almost 20 years later, has WCCUSD learned anything about budgeting?

In this tough financial period, it's time to tell WCCUSD not now, not again.

Vote NO on Measure M

Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers, Kenneth E. Hambrick, Chairman

Thomas Lynden, Business Owner/CPA

Susan L. Pricco, Former Chair, WCCUSD Citizens Bond Oversight

Greg Engargiola, Parent/Homeowner/Physicist

Kris Gordon, Retired Superior Court Clerk

In June WCCUSD put a $380,000,000 bond measure on the ballot. Highly-paid consultants say that a bond is easier to pass because it only needs 55% of the votes. We knew then they would be back for a parcel tax when the bond passed, and here they are.

It seems the School Board is spending more time and money on ballots and surveys than they are on budgeting. California's residents are struggling financially. WCCUSD has already 7 items on your property bill for taxes or assessments or bonds. The amount you pay will continue to rise as more bonds are issued. Why is the District not borrowing from their bond funds?

The District's enrollment is declining. Isn't it logical that we should need less money, not more? We are already paying huge amounts to the District. Are the students doing better because of it? Exemptions for seniors? That applies to seniors who (1) own their home and (2) if they submit an annual application. Measure M funds are to be used in "local" schools? There's nothing to ensure that your dollars will be used in your neighborhood, or applied with any equity. Promises of an "oversight" committee give voters a false sense of security. WCCUSD Citizen's Bond Oversight Committee has no authority to impose changes or make decisions. The Board of Trustees has that sole power. The buck stops with them.

As long as money flows, there will be no meaningful change. Demand better money management and accountability from your school district by withholding your support. Vote with us and say NO to Measure M.

Alliance of Contra Costa Taxpayers, Kenneth E. Hambrick, Chairman

Susan L. Pricco, Former Chair, WCCUSD Citizens Bond Oversight

Dr. Greg Engargiola, PhD., Parent/Homeowner

Rebuttal to Arguments Against
It's no secret that the politics of Sacramento is hurting local school districts. In Sacramento, politics often gets in the way of what really needs to be done. Here in our own community we have no such luxury.

If our children are to have real opportunities for college admittance and solid places in the modern work-force, then we cannot abandon our responsibilities as parents, teachers, principals, and elders of our community. And that is why we've all joined together in support of Measure M.

  • Measure M guarantees funding for our local schools that cannot be taken away by the State.

  • Measure M helps to maintain smaller class sizes, and pays for in-class safety and campus security.

  • Measure M will fund classroom programs that focus on Reading, Writing, Math, and Science + the basics that so many other districts have been forced to cut.
  • Measure M enables our schools to become more independent from the politics of Sacramento and the statewide budgeting process of which we have no control.

Long-range planning and budgeting by our teachers and principals is routinely undermined by the impacts of Sacramento's out-of-control budget process. Measure M will give our District a greater ability to establish and implement long-range educational plans at a time when other districts and even the State cannot.

Simply put, Measure M will better enable our principals and teachers to educate the children of our community. Please join us in Voting YES on Measure M.

Patricia A. Player, Retired Teacher and Former School Board Member

Michael M. Booker, Lieutenant-City of Richmond PD

Genoveva Calloway, Mayor-City of San Pablo

Laura A. Ramos, Bayside PTA President

Don Lau, YMCA Executive

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Created: January 6, 2011 14:57 PST
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