Oct 28 2019

Dear Editor,

I’m writing to express my strong support for Measures G&H. As a realtor and a grandmother of children attending the Piedmont schools, I understand the importance of our Piedmont schools on many levels.

Every day, I work with families who want to buy homes in Piedmont because they know that our community offers a great education for their children. The strength of our schools directly affects the value of Piedmont homes.

I am proud to live in a community that values education, and I’m thrilled that my grandchildren attend the Piedmont schools. I know that they are receiving an outstanding education that includes small class sizes and access to art classes, libraries, current technology, and eventually AP classes and a range of electives. This breadth of programming exists because Piedmont has consistently passed school parcel taxes for over 30 years, helping to address the lack of state funding for education. In addition to preserving our educational program, we also need to support the teachers who work hard every day to teach our students. Measures G&H will allow us to preserve our educational programs and properly compensate Piedmont teachers.

All of the money raised by our school parcel taxes stays here in Piedmont. Even if you don’t have children who attend the Piedmont schools, Measures G&H are a wise investment because they help protect and improve our property values. The Piedmont schools have been the centerpiece of our community for decades. I encourage Piedmont residents to join me in voting Yes on Measures G&H in order to keep our schools strong.

Sincerely,

Anian Pettit Tunney, Piedmont Resident

Broker Associate , The Grubb Co.

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 24 2019

We all benefit by increased real estate values substantially created by our excellent
Piedmont Schools. Normally larger homes increase in value more than smaller
homes. A single progressive Per Square Foot of Building Tax, a PSFBT, is the best
tax solution for each of us to fairly contribute to our schools based on property
value increases.

PSFBT is used in Alameda since 2011, Emeryville since 2007, Berkeley since 2010, and W. Contra Costa since 2004. Instead our School District has chosen to keep our large regressive flat tax and add a small progressive PSFBT.

March 2013 the School District replaced the existing tax that had “a variety of
progressivity to it” (Board President Raushenbush 12/12/2012) with a
regressive flat rate tax. This resulted in 76% of Piedmont taxpayers on parcels less
than 10,000 square feet (“sf”) paying 6% to 21% more. However 24% of
taxpayers, owners of large parcels, commercial buildings and multi-unit buildings
pay 7% to 80% less. Some large parcels over 20,000 sf go untaxed.

The District commissioned a survey of voter preference. Presented April 24 2019 to
the School Board, the Final Ballot Result compared a single progressive PSFBT that
generates 125% of current revenue to a regressive flat rate tax at 115% of
revenue. The Survey concluded that 73.4% of Piedmont voters definitely/likely will
vote for a 125% progressive PSFBT. The 115% flat rate tax received 62.1%
support. 66.7% is needed to pass.

Initially, I suggested a 115% progressive PSFBT which would likely poll above 74%
and I’m disappointed by the District unfairly comparing a progressive 125%
revenue tax to a regressive 115% tax. Despite this headwind the progressive tax
polled 11.3% higher. Rather than follow voter preference the District created a two
tax Special Election at a cost of $125,000 versus General Election cost of $35,000.
Additionally, as Piedmont taxes and bond obligations are already as expensive as
any in the State and proper funding is critical for Piedmont Schools, the School Tax
conversation should be revisited every four years.

So what is the tax cost to homeowners of a single progressive per square foot of
building tax (“PSFBT”) versus Measures G and H? Proponents state “Measure G will
cost all homeowners $2,763 per year. The cost to homeowners for Measure H will
be 25 cents per square foot of their home.” Measure H generates an additional 25%
in revenue so a single $1.25 per square foot of building tax will generate the same
total revenue as Measures G and H. While I advocated a 115% revenue increase, I
will compare the tax cost of a 125% progressive PSFBT to Measures G and H:

House SF
Tax G Existing
Tax H  +25%
   Total 125%
PSFBT 125%
       2,736
$2,736
$684
$3,420
$3,420
 
 
 
 
 
       2,400
$2,736
$600
$3,336
$3,000
       2,100
$2,736
$525
$3,261
$2,625
       1,800
$2,736
$450
$3,186
$2,250
       1,500
$2,736
$375
$3,111
$1,875
       3,000
$2,736
$750
$3,486
$3,750
       4,000
$2,736
$1,000
$3,736
$5,000
       5,000
$2,736
$1,250
$3,986
$6,250

 

If your home is smaller than 2,763 square feet you will pay less under a single
progressive tax. The median size home in Piedmont is about 2,400 square feet. I
estimate that under a single progressive PSFBT 63% of homeowners will pay less
than with Measures G & H. Mindful of an excessive cost to large homes, Alameda
uses a $7,999 cap and I suggested a $4,999 cap in Piedmont.

Likely you are among the 76% who paid more after 2012 and are in a home smaller
than 2,763 square feet. Additionally according to the District’s own data 73.4% of
residents support a single progressive PSFBT School Tax.

Proponents state: “If Measures G and H do not pass, up to 100 teacher positions will be eliminated.” This outcome would be awful and fortunately our current tax runs through June 2021 so there will be no revenue loss should G and H fail. There will be no teacher eliminations.

Vote NO on Measures G & H so the District will put before us our preferred
choice: a single progressive tax.

Rick Schiller
Piedmont taxpayer

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.
Oct 14 2019

News coverage against Measure H, “No on Piedmont’s school tax increase,” was published in the East Bay Times, the former Oakland Tribune.  Click below to access the full article.

“Voters in the Nov.  5 special election should approve Measure G, which would extend what district officials have said is the largest parcel tax in the state.  But voters should reject Measure H, which would add a new one. “

“This district isn’t suffering.  At a certain point, residents need to ask district officials how much is enough.”

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

Local Measures
Measure G Parcel Tax Renrewal — Piedmont Unified School District (2/3 Approval Required)
To maintain the high quality of education in Piedmont schools, continue funding programs in math, science, technology, engineering, English, music, and arts, keep textbooks and instructional technology up to date, maintain smaller class sizes, and attract and retain qualified teachers, shall the Piedmont Unified School District renew its expiring parcel tax at an annual rate of $2,763 per parcel for 8 years, providing 10.8 million dollars annually, with independent citizen oversight and all money staying local?
Measure H Parcel Tax Increase — Piedmont Unified School District (2/3 Approval Required)
To provide critically needed funding to attract and retain high quality teachers and educational support staff, shall the Piedmont Unified School District levy a tax of $0.25 per square foot of building improvements, providing 2.6 million dollars annually in dedicated funding for Piedmont schools for 8 years, with independent citizen oversight and all money staying local?
Editors’ Note: PCA does not support or oppose ballot measures.
Oct 14 2019

Check your mail carefully for your “Vote by Mail” ballot. To some receiving their ballots in the mail, the  ballot envelope looks like an advertisement.  

At this election, no postage is required to cast your ballot via the mail.

Oct 14 2019

Click the link below to read an opinion in support of Measures G and H submitted by Piedmont resident Hari Titan.

>Vote_YES_on_Measures_G_and_H

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.  PCA does not support or oppose ballot measures.
Oct 8 2019

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:

$2,763 = Base amount for approval of Measure G.

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

Aug 27 2019

Piedmont Taxes are agendized for the Committee to make recommendations to the Piedmont City Council.

City of Piedmont Budget Advisory & Financial Planning Committee

Thursday, August 29, 2019   7:30 p.m.

Emergency Operations Center, Piedmont Police Department, 403 Highland Avenue Piedmont, CA

Agenda:

This is an opportunity for members of the audience to speak on an item not on the agenda. The 10 minute period will be divided evenly between those wishing to address the Committee.

  1. Update on the Committee’s Review of the Parcel Tax Pursuant to Resolution 120-14
  2. Consideration of Scheduling Future Meetings

Staff reports are not publicly distributed before the meeting. The meeting will not be broadcast.  Minutes of the Committee’s meetings are not agendized for Committee approval.  Audio recording are made of the meetings and are available through the City Clerk.

Jun 25 2019

Measure A = $2,763 Uniform per year tax for all parcels

Measure B = Adds an additional tax based on building Square Footage for up to $3,192 more per year. 

To view the actual proposed tax on your home or property go to the staff report and read the chart seen below.

The Piedmont School Board will act on June 26, 2019 to place on the November Ballot two new school parcel taxes. Measure A will be a uniform parcel cost of $2,763 per parcel.  Measure B is based on square footage of building space.  If both measures pass, the smallest square foot building homeowner would pay $2,763 per year, and the largest square foot of building would pay $6,675 per year.

The staff recommendation is for 2 Measures on the November 2019 Ballot.  Given the recent poll results and Piedmont’s current educational needs, District staff recommends that the Board of Education consider asking voters to support the renewal of its existing parcel tax to maintain current programs at the $2,763 flat rate (“Measure A”) and in a separate measure (“Measure B”) asking voters for an additional amount ($0.25 per building square foot) to ensure that Piedmont schools will be better able to attract and retain highly qualified teachers and educational support staff.

Renewing the existing parcel tax (“Measure A”) would secure $10.8 million in revenues. Measure A is a continuation, no tax increase measure. We [District Staff] would also recommend an 8-year “duration” of the tax to provide a stable ongoing source of revenue to the District and fulfill the description as a pure continuation of what is in place today.

To view what you would pay if Measure A and/or B pass, see below:

# of parcels

Square Feet of improved property

% of parcels

Measure A $2,763

Measure B @ 0.25 per sq/ft

A+B (total tax)

104

0/vacant

2.6%

$2,763

$0

$2,763

25

557-1,000

0.6%

$2,763

$139 – $250

$2,902 – $3,013

1098

1,001-2,000

27.9%

$2,763

$250 – $500

$3,013 – $3,263

1528

2,001-3,000

38.8%

$2,763

$500 – $750

$3,263 – $3,874

707

3,001-4,000

17.9%

$2,763

$750 – $1,000

$3,874 – $3,763

267

4,001-5,000

6.7%

$2,763

$1,000 – $1,250

$3,763 – $4,013

99

5,001-6,000

2.5%

$2,763

$1,250 – $1,500

$4,013 – $4,263

38

6,001-7,000

1.0%

$2,763

$1,500 – $1,750

$4,263 – $4,513

19

7,001-8,000

0.5%

$2,763

$1,750 – $2,000

$4,513 – $4,763

19

8,001-9,000

0.5%

$2,763

$2,000 – $2,250

$4,763 – $5,013

8

9,001-10,000

0.2%

$2,763

$2,250 – $2,500

$5,013 – $5,263

21

10,001-15,650

0.3%

$2,763

$2,500 – $3,912

$5,263 – $6,675

1

25,635 (apartment)

<0.1%

$2,763

$6,409

$9,172

VI_F_UpdatedBackgroundSchoolSupportTax_0 with chart

Additionally, we [District Staff] recommend that a second measure (“Measure B”) be placed on the ballot. [See above chart.] This second measure would be set at $0.25 per building square foot and would also have an 8-year duration. Passage of Measure B would result in an additional $2.6 million to the Piedmont schools. Importantly, the entire community would share the burden of an increased tax (although larger properties would pay more and smaller properties less – $139 per year for the smallest residential parcel). An added benefit is that if this tax were challenged from a legal standpoint, only the supplemental tax would be at legal risk.

If both measures pass, the smallest square foot homeowner would pay $2,763 per year, and the largest square foot building owner would pay $9,172 per year.

Together [Measure A and B], both measures would raise $13.4 million.

II. RECOMMENDATION: REVIEW AND ACTION After convening the second of two (2) public hearings—June 12, 2019 and June 26, 2019, District staff recommends that the Board adopt the two subsequent Board Resolutions (Measure A & B) that authorize both the renewal of a qualified special tax and a second qualified special tax for voter approval on November 5, 2019.

VI.F. Approve Resolution 19-2018-19 “Proposing a Qualified Special Tax and Establishing Specification of the Election Order Measure A”

At 8:40 p.m. the Board is requested to approve the attached Resolution 19-2018-19 “Proposing a Qualified Special Tax and Establishing Specifications of the Election Order Measure A”.

The Resolution calls for an election on November 5, 2019 to extend the authorization of the Board to levy the current School Support Tax as permitted in Measure A for eight years starting on July 1, 2020.  The new Measure “A” is a renewal of the current School Support Tax—a uniform flat tax on all parcels.  The new Measure “A” will continue to provide an exemption for churches, public utilities, and those eligible for Social Security Supplemental Income.  The new Measure “A” also continues to permit an inflation growth rate of up to two (2) percent per year.

Attachments:

VI_F_UpdatedBackgroundSchoolSupportTax_0

VI_F_UpdatedResolution19201819MeasureA_0

 At 9:00 p.m. ~

VI.G. Approve Resolution 20-2018-19 “Proposing a Qualified Special Tax and Establishing Specification of the Election Order Measure B” 

The Board is requested to approve the attached Resolution 20-2018-19 “Proposing a Qualified Special Tax and Establishing Specifications of the Election Order Measure B”.

The Resolution calls for an election on November 5, 2019 to authorize the Board to levy a new School Support Tax as permitted in Measure “B”  for eight years starting on July 1, 2020.  The new Measure “B” is a uniform tax applied at $0.25 per square foot of building improvements.  The new Measure “B” will continue to provide an exemption for churches, public utilities, and those eligible for Social Security Supplemental Income.  The new Measure “B” does not include an inflation growth rate.

VI_G_Resolution20201819MeasureBParcelTax_0

READ the above linked reports for further details.

The meeting will be held in Piedmont City Hall, broadcast on Cable Channel 27 and the Piedmont website under School Board. 

 

Jun 14 2019

Los Angeles voters soundly defeated a proposal to support LA schools based on a per square footage of interior space of buildings.  The owner of a 2,000 square-foot-house would have paid $320 a year to support the schools.

Measure EE would have raised an estimated $500 million annually for 12 years by charging property owners 16 cents per square foot of indoor space, excluding parking areas. … Los Angeles Times

To read the article below, click the headline:

Los Angeles voters decisively reject parcel tax that would have raised $500 million annually for schools

Jun 12 2019

Piedmont School Board
c/o Randy Booker, Superintendent

re: June 12, 2019 Agenda item: School Taxes

Dear President Smith and Board,

I.      I take exception to Mr. Booker’s comments May 22 at 3:48 that a single square foot building tax would not allow the District to have a separate flat tax on unimproved parcels.  I again cite two sources:
– SB2954 (2018) Legislation allows a separate unimproved parcel rate.
– Alameda School District’s 2011 Measure A square foot of building tax with a separate flat rate for unimproved parcels and the identical 2016 Measure B1 tax; both these taxes withstood legal challenges.  Significantly, Judge Petrou in his 2018 stipulated judgement required a flat rate tax on unimproved parcels to bring Measure B1 in alignment with Measure A (source: Sean McPhetridge, AUSD Superintendent,  4/4/2018 Press Release).

II.     While identifying all parcels by their Assessor’s Parcel Number (APN) is welcome, having multi-parcel owners combine parcels to a single APN to avoid paying multiple taxes is a problematic solution. Combining parcels at the County level eliminates some buildable lots. Should the owners wish to recapture these parcels, the process is not simple and is done at the City level.  Applications, surveys and new legal descriptions on new recorded documents would be required. This does not respect Piedmont taxpayers who have been so generous in their School support. Finally, eliminating buildable size parcels works against Piedmont’s requirement of meeting State mandates of providing more housing.
A multi-parcel exemption handled by the District is the proper and simple solution.

III.    I again propose a single $1.15 per square foot building tax which gives the District a 15% increase in tax revenue.  This acknowledges that Piedmonters have been very generous in their District support and a 25% in total increase is excessive.

Respectfully,
Rick Schiller, Piedmont Resident

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.