Oct 8 2019

CONFUSION ? Election on School Tax Measures G and H: Questions and Answers

Piedmont voters are called to a special election exclusively for Piedmont Schools on November 5, 2019.  Some confusion has arisen as to the amount of the Measure G and H taxes and the relationship between various current and proposed tax measures.

Measure G, essentially a continuation tax, preempts existing school parcel tax, Measure A, which is scheduled to expire in 2021.  Every property owner in Piedmont will pay a base rate of $2,763 per parcel per year if Measure G is approved. 

Measure H is a new additional school parcel tax increasing the school parcel taxes property owners will pay.  If Measure H, if approved by voters, will require property owners to pay an additional tax of  $0.25 per square foot of habitable space on their parcel.

Example:

$2,709 = Base amount for approval of Measure Gl.

If Measure G and H are approved, a homeowner with 2,000 square footage of habitable space will pay $2,763 base tax plus 2,000 multiplied by 25 cents  equaling $500 for a total of $3,263, rather than the current yearly base rate of $2,763 per parcel.

   MEASURE G IS ESSENTIALLY A RENEWAL OF THE CURRENT SCHOOL PARCEL TAX 

The Piedmont Board of Education is asking Piedmont voters to support (“Measure G”) on November 5, 2019 the renewal of its existing parcel tax to maintain current programs starting at the $2,763 rate with a potential 2% annual increase. In a separate measure (“Measure H”) voters are asked for an additional amount ($0.25 per square foot of habitable square footage / building improvements – on a parcel.)  

Measure G is a continuation tax without a tax base increase. Measure G, if approved, will have an 8-year “duration” of the tax. The tax can be increased by 2% per year.  Approving Measure G will provide $10.6 million in revenues to the Piedmont Unified School District. 

MEASURE H IS A NEW ADDITIONAL TAX BASED ON THE HABITABLE SQUARE FOOTAGE OF BUILDING IMPROVEMENTS ON A PARCEL.

The second ballot measure (Measure H) is new and an additional tax to be applied to all Piedmont parcels. Measure H would be set at a flat rate of $0.25 per square foot of building improvements, square footage of a home  (Improvements are existing improvements of the habitable square footage space of all buildings and homes on a parcel).  Measure H would  have an 8-year duration. Passage of Measure H would result in an additional $2.6 million to the Piedmont schools. All homeowners and business will pay for this  additional tax if approved.   Homes with more square footage of habitable space will pay more than smaller homes and buildings.

If both G and H Measures pass, rates will vary tremendously per parcel on the additional tax with the largest square footage homeowners paying up to $6,568 per year.

Both Measures G and H would raise $13.3 million.

Registered Piedmont voters have received a Voter Information Guide in the mail that details the election.  The election is a stand alone special election exclusively related to the Piedmont Unified School District.  The current parcel tax does not expire until June 2021.  The two proposals, if approved, will take effect in 2020.

Residents have been canvassed by volunteer supporters to determine individuals voting preferences – yes or no.   Individuals stating they are in support of the ballot measures can expect reminders to vote in the November 5, 2019 Election. Those who have voiced opposition or no preference to the ballot measures should not expect to receive a reminder to vote on the November 5 ballot measures.

 Explanations and the rationale for supporting the school parcel tax proposals can be found in the Voter Information Guide.  No argument was filed against the measures in the Voter Information Guide. 

Voters have been asking:

1.The Voter Information Guide is unclear about whether or not PERMANENT “Vote by Mail” voters need to re-apply for their mail ballot.

Answer:  It is our understanding that those previously receiving their ballot in the mail will continue to receive their ballot without reapplying. If for any reason, a voter does not timely receive their ballot in the mail, the voter can vote in person at their polling location listed on the back of the Voter Information Guide or any polling location.

“Vote by mail allows voters to cast a ballot without going to a polling place. If a registered voter has applied to vote by mail, the Registrar’s office mails a ballot to the registered address of the voter beginning 29 days before an election. The voter votes the ballot and returns it to the election office by mail. The voter can also return it in person to the office or to any polling place on Election Day to be counted. Any voter can apply to vote by mail permanently in every election.”  Alameda County Registrar of Voters

2. Are the school parcel taxes deductible on Federal income taxes?

Answer: Deduction of state and local taxes are each year limited to a maximum deduction of $10,000 per single or married couple on Federal income tax returns. Many Piedmonters will likely not be able to deduct the school parcel tax in additional to their state income taxes.

3. What happens if the school parcel tax measures are not approved by Piedmont voters?

Answer: To be approved, each ballot measure requires approval by 2/3 rds or 66 2/3rds of the voters voting on the measures.  If voters approve Measure G, but not Measure H at the November 5 Election, the School Board will likely accept that voters did not want additional funding beyond the base amount of Measure G. However, if both measures are rejected by voters, it is assumed that the School Board will return with a different measure to achieve voter support prior to the 2021 expiration of the current school parcel tax, Measure A.

4. Is there an exemption for senior homeowners ?

Answer: No.  The School Board was informed that many other school districts have an exemption or tax reduction for senior homeowner taxpayers; however, in calculating the result of reducing or eliminating the tax for seniors and given the significant number of seniors residing in Piedmont, a determination was made that insufficient funds would be derived from the tax  to produce adequate funds to support School District needs. Additionally, the School Board noted that property values related to excellent schools benefited all Piedmont property owners whether seniors or not.

5. What percentage of the school population does not reside in Piedmont?

Answer: The number varies but all city and school employees are allowed to send their children to the Piedmont schools.  Additionally, the Piedmont Millennium High School has a significant number of students residing outside of Piedmont.  A recent need for more students to maintain the budgeted amount derived from the California state contribution of approximately $8,500 resulted in an invitation to residents’ grandchildren and others from outside of Piedmont to fill specific slots in certain grades.  About 18 additional non-resident students were added to the student population for the 2019-2020 school year.

6.  Does the School District need Measure H to balance their budget?

Answer:  Measure H provides funding beyond the basic budgetary needs of the District. Measure H was proposed as a way to increase funding for school teachers and other purposes identified by the School Board.

7.  Where can I return my “vote by mail” ballot?

Answer: An Alameda County Ballot Box where voters can drop their no postage ballot will be at the corner of Highland and Highland Way, next to the mailboxes, near Wells Fargo Bank in central Piedmont. Voters can also mail their ballot as stated on their envelope.  When mailed, the envelope requires no postal stamps.  Voters can also turn in their ballot to officials at their regular voting location noted on the back of their Voter Information Guide or any polling location.

8. D0 City of Piedmont municipal parcel taxes go to the schools?

Answer:  No.  The School District and the City of Piedmont have separate revenues, separate budgets, and separate governance.  Piedmont property owners pay separately for the schools and the city The funds are not commingled.  Property owners can see the distinct taxation for the schools and the city on their recent Alameda County property tax statement.

Editors Note:  PCA does not support or oppose any ballot measures. 

Updated 10/14/2019

2 Responses to “CONFUSION ? Election on School Tax Measures G and H: Questions and Answers”

  1. Mercury News editorial opposes the measures, worth reading:

    https://www.mercurynews.com/2019/10/12/editorial-piedmont-voters-should-reject-increase-to-record-tax/

  2. What’s the answer to #5? How many students attend Piedmont schools but aren’t residents? What is the state’s contribution of $8,500? Is that per student per year? Will grandchildren be allowed to continue on after 2019-2020?

    #6: what are the “other purposes identified by the School Board”?

    Editors’ Note: To our knowledge, the exact number of non-resident students is not publicized. The $8,500 per student of state funding is for the 2019-2020 year. All unexcused student absences reduce the amount funded by the state.

    The Piedmont Unified School has a policy allowing grandchildren of Piedmont residents to attend Piedmont schools, if space is available. There is a priority policy for nonresident student admissions. The School Board reviews the policy on an annual basis and determines the number of spaces available.

    As to “other purposes” for the new Measure H, the School Board has indicated expenditures for adequate teacher compensation to encourage teacher retention and employee opportunities. The funds can also be used for other purposes identified by the School Board during the eight year term of Measure H (Tax equals 25 cents times the square footage of habitable space on a parcel). Additional information is in the Voter Information Guide.
    Please contact the School District for further details.

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