Jan 25 2013

OPINION: School Parcel Facts Clarified

Difference Between Types of Exemptions- 

Dear Editor:

The supporters of Measure A are incorrectly characterizing one of the points made by the opponents of this proposal. The Proponent ballot rebuttal to the Measure A opponent argument states:  “The opponents simply have their facts wrong.  Low-income seniors are exempt from Measure A.”  The Argument Against Measure A makes this point:  “Piedmont does not have a senior exemption and this must be included. The proposed SSI (Supplemental Security Income) exemption for low-income seniors is meaningless in Piedmont.”

There is a substantial difference between a senior exemption and a low-income senior exemption.  In our region alone there are at least 35 school districts with age 65-only qualification for 100% senior exemption; the age 65 only qualification is common and most school districts use this straightforward qualification. Piedmont is 3rd in the top 10 list of California school districts by Academic Performance Index (API) and only Piedmont does not offer an Age 65 senior exemption if a school tax is present. The details for these two points are contained at http://tiny.cc/36xyqw.

Local school districts define “very low income” using Federal classifications and on a very different basis from what the proponents feel is right for Piedmont:

  • Berkeley USD:  household income below $37,400.
  • Moraga SD:  household income below $32,350 to $49,850, depending on household size.
  • Oakland USD:  household income below $31,250 to $58,950, depending on household size.
  • Orinda Union SD:  household income below $46,150 to $60,950, depending on household size.

 Regarding Piedmont’s SSI qualification as a senior exemption, regardless of even the extremely low income levels of SSI, a person is not eligible if resources exceed $2,000 (exclusive of residence and car). The high cost of living in Piedmont virtually ensures any senior with a home will not qualify for SSI. The reality is that there is no meaningful senior exemption with Measure A.

To reiterate the closing statement of the Opponents to Measure A:  “Vote NO on Measure A. Instead, let us vote for a tax in November that is equitable, has genuine citizen oversight, and a meaningful senior exemption.”

Thank you,

Jim McCrea,  Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note:  The opinions expressed are those of the author and not necessarily those of the Piedmont Civic Association.


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