Jun 10 2016

OPINION: School Board Needs to Act on Parcel Tax Exemptions by June 30

June 30th is the deadline for terminating the exemptions to the School Support Tax, Measure A.

   Otherwise, the District will lose another $130,000 in revenue in FY 2016-17. Fear of a lawsuit is the explanation given to me for continuing the unlawful exemptions, but I believe this fear is unfounded.

  The bottom line is that Measure A is the law and it allowed no such exemptions.

  I take no great pleasure in finding fault with the District. But what I first thought was a simple accounting error has morphed over time into gross negligence and an appalling indifference to the law.

William Blackwell, Piedmont Resident

Editors’ Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.

One Response to “OPINION: School Board Needs to Act on Parcel Tax Exemptions by June 30”

  1. Mr. Blackwell has raised questions about application of the School Support Tax for some time now. The District has obtained legal advice about Mr. Blackwell’s claims, and that legal advice has supported the District’s position. Mr. Blackwell most recently contends that the District should assess the school parcel tax against various church-owned properties in Piedmont. Doing so would violate an exemption for church property in the California Constitution. Nothing in Piedmont’s parcel tax measure could or does override the California Constitution (or state statute). Measure A is the law, to the extent it is applied consistently with state law.

    Mr. Blackwell also argues that the parcel tax is a “special assessment” rather than a “special tax’ under CA tax law, and therefore the Constitutional exemption does not apply. The District’s legal counsel has opined (and explained to Mr. Blackwell) that a parcel tax is a “special tax” to which the exemption applies, and also consulted with the State Board of Equalization, which confirmed that opinion.

    So, with respect to church properties, the California Constitution, statute, caselaw, legal opinion, and the State Board of Equalization are all against Mr. Blackwell’s belief that the District should attempt to tax church-owned properties. So, yes, the District is concerned that attempting to tax church properties would lead to a lawsuit. Moreover, doing so would be contrary to law, and the District does not seek to violate the law.

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