Nov 18 2012

School Board Changes Initial Direction on New School Tax

Permanent tax abandoned; “low income” exemption becomes  SSI “disability” exemption –

After concerns were raised by the League of Women Voters and other residents, the Piedmont School Board veered away from plans for a permanent (“evergreen”) school tax and, at its meeting on November 14, directed staff to draft a ballot measure proposal for an 8-year tax which authorizes annual increases of up to 2%.  

The draft tax plan eliminates the current independent citizens oversight committee (which will be absorbed into the Budget Advisory Committee), designates the Superintendent to identify and qualify BAC members to serve on a newly created BAC “parcel tax sub-committee”, and removes previous restrictions on use of the parcel tax funds.

The November 14 draft allows an option to offer an exemption to Piedmont residents who are both low-income and disabled and qualify for SSI Disability.  The draft language does not provide for the low-income exemption discussed and supported by 4 Board Members at the meeting and does not make a Disability exemption mandatory.

The tax levy will not automatically decrease if previously lost state or federal funding is restored to California schools in the future. 

The final ballot measure language is scheduled to be approved at a Special Board  of Education Meeting on Wednesday, November 28, in the City Council Chambers starting a 7:00 pm.  Input should be offered prior to this meeting.  See email list below of School Board Members & Superintendent.  Click here to send email to all School Board Members.

Summary of Draft Resolution

  • 8 year term (not permanent)
  • Up to 2% increase per year
  • Independent oversight committee abolished
    • The current Citizens Advisory Committee (CAC) will become a Parcel Tax subcommittee of the Budget Advisory Committee (BAC).
    • The Superintendent will verify eligibility of the 3 to 5 Parcel Tax subcommittee members, who must be Piedmont homeowners and approved by the School Board President and Vice-President. (The CAC currently must have at least 7 members and generally has 9-10 members.)
    • The BAC is a committee consisting of staff, teachers, union representatives and parents chosen by the Superintendent.
    • Current District staff members are excluded from the sub-committee, but not former stafF
  • As is current School Board practice, no mailed written notice of 2% increases to property owners will be provided.
  • SSI Disability Exemption (not senior; not solely low income)
    • Homeowners will qualify for a PUSD tax exemption only if they are disabled and have very limited income and assets as defined by Supplemental Security Income (SSI) Low income residents eligible for SSI based on age (over 65) will not receive a PUSD exemption under the resolution presented to the Board on November 14.  In response to a question, the Superintendent asserted that low-income residents who are blind (a separate SSI eligibility category from “disability”) would qualify for the PUSD exemption.
    • The Board acknowledged that few homeowners would qualify for the PUSD exemption.
    • Providing this exemption is discretionary, rather than mandated.
  • Two School Board meetings to determine levy and up to 2% increases

    • At its first meeting in January, the Board will hold a public hearing to determine if the tax levy shall be maintained, decreased, or increased up to 2%.  At a following Board meeting it will vote on the resolution.

Homeowners attempting to determine their total school tax obligations can find their additional school bond assessments in the left column of their Alameda County tax statement.  Unlike Piedmont school bonds, however, the tax deductibility of the $2,000 to $3,500 school parcel tax may be in question, depending on current and future State and Federal regulations:  parcel taxes that vary by parcel size may not meet the IRS “like rate” requirement for deductibility.  (See Article).

PIEDMONT TAXES                                     AMOUNT                  INCREASES       TAX DEDUCTIBLE STATUS

  • School bonds                               up to $146 per $100,000               0%                             DEDUCTIBLE
  • School parcel tax                                $2,021 to $3,678                  up to  2%                                  ?
  • City parcel tax                                         $342 to $576                  CPI up to 4%                              ?
  • Sewer parcel tax                                     $471 to 849                    CPI w/o limit                              ?
  • Private undergrounding                             $2,000+                           0%                                      NO


Excerpts from Draft Resolution Language

“Parcel Tax Exemptions: Parcels owned and occupied by individuals who receive Supplemental Security Income for a Disability, regardless of age, may be exempt from the tax.”  (Disability will include blindness per Superintendent Hubbard.)

“(e) Parcel Tax Subcommittee: An annual written report shall be prepared and submitted to the Board of Education by the School Support Tax Subcommittee (“Subcommittee”) of the Budget Advisory Committee (“BAC”). All residents of the Piedmont Unified School District are eligible to apply for membership on the BAC on an annual basis. Members of the Subcommittee must be homeowners in the Piedmont Unified School District community and subject to the School Support Tax and not current employees of PUSD. Each year there shall be no fewer than three (3) and no more than five (5) volunteers identified by November of each year to serve on the Subcommittee. It is the responsibility of the District Superintendent or designee to verify eligibility of the volunteers. The President and Vice President of the Board of Education shall approve all nominees to the Subcommittee. The Subcommittee shall work directly with the Chief Business Officer of the District to review School Support Tax uses and report to the Board of Education at the first public hearing held each year to determine the subsequent year’s levy. Members of the Subcommittee commit to regularly attend meetings of the BAC.”


“Proposed parcel tax amounts:

Parcel with Single Family Dwelling:

0-4,999 sq. ft. lot $2,088/parcel
5,000-9,999 sq. ft. lot $2,373/parcel
10,000-14,999 sq. ft. lot $2,706/parcel
15,000-19,999 sq. ft. lot $3,107/parcel
more than 20,000 sq. ft. lot $3,547/parcel

Parcel with Multi-Family Dwellings:
Multi-family dwellings/unit, all lot sizes) $1,389/unit

Multiple Parcel Dwellings: $2,281/dwelling

Commercial Property:
0-10,000 sq. ft. lot $3,547/parcel
Commercial lots greater than 10,000 sq. ft. $5,305/parcel

Undeveloped Parcel $1,059/parcel

The uses and sizes of all parcels shall be determined according to the records of the Alameda County Tax Assessor. For parcels divided by Tax Code Area lines, the payment for the portion of the parcel within the Piedmont Unified School District shall be the same as the above square footage rates.”

Read the entire resolution prepared for the November 14, 2012 Board meeting.

Contact School Board Members and Superintendent:

Updated 11/19/2012

2 Responses to “School Board Changes Initial Direction on New School Tax”

  1. The summary mis-interprets the provisions regarding the “Parcel Tax Subcommittee.” If you re-read the language quoted, the Superintendent “verifies” eligibility, she does not screen, filter or make a formal recommendation. And membership in BAC is now open to all Piedmonters (changing past practice, where public members could attend but “members” were selected by the Superintendent and most were there as representatives of school support groups. Members of the current Citizens Advisory Committee have been encouraged to attend in recent years, but not all have).

    I’m the former chair of the current CAC and have been an outspoken reviewer of District financial numbers for the past five years… I’m fully satisfied that the new review group will have just as much POTENTIAL independence as the current one. Its ACTUAL independence will depend on who makes the time commitment to apply, and who the School Board selects — which are the same caveats that apply under the current parcel tax provisions. I, for one, intend to apply and make sure that citizen oversight continues – I hope others do as well.

    Thank you all again for providing this very useful forum for discussion!

    Editors Note: The resolution provides that “All residents of the Piedmont Unified School District are eligible to apply for membership on the BAC on an annual basis.” Members of the BAC are selected by the Superintendent. Parcel tax subcommittee members are identified from BAC members. Oversight subcommittee members will be limited to persons of the Superintendent’s choosing, who are subsequently also approved by the School Board President and Vice President. If there are any additional legal restrictions on the Superintendent choice of members for the oversight subcommittee, PCA would be happy to publish them.

  2. Your article states: “Low income residents eligible for SSI based on age (over 65) will not receive a PUSD exemption under the resolution presented to the Board on November 14.”

    Superintendent Hubbard corrected the relevant text during her presentation of the draft Resolution on Nov. 14. The proposed Resolution that will be acted upon on Nov. 28 provides:

    Parcel Tax Exemptions: Homeowners who are residing on their property and qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI) may be exempt. This could apply to adults who are blind or disabled, with limited income and resources, as well as to people 65 years of age and older without disabilities who meet the income limits prescribed by SSI. Individuals seeking such exemption must submit an application to the District, including proof that the individual has been determined to be eligible for SSI by the Social Security Administration, on or before July 1 of each tax year.

    Any Piedmont resident that the US Social Security Administration determines qualifies for SSI may obtain an exemption from the proposed parcel tax.

    Rick Raushenbush, President, Piedmont Board of Education

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