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

Non-resident students are sought for the upcoming Piedmont school year.

The Piedmont Unified School District has announced the application process which begins on June 24, 2019 for inter-district non-resident student transfers into the Piedmont Unified School District for the upcoming 2019-2020 academic year.

June 13, 2019

The Piedmont Unified School District (PUSD) announces the opportunity for interested families to apply for interdistrict transfers for the 2019-2020 school year.  Currently, there are openings at the Kindergarten level.  With approximately 15 kindergarten spaces available, a lottery will be held if there are more applications than space availability.

Additionally, new to 2019, the Board of Education revised Board Policy and Administrative Regulation (AR) 5117 that permits children of grandparents who currently reside in the city of Piedmont to apply for an interdistrict transfer. 

Enrollment will be based on the priority order outlined in AR 5117 and space availability.

Interested families can find more information about interdistrict permits on our District’s website www.piedmont.k12.ca.us under the “District Info Tab” – Admission and Enrollment. http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/district-info/enrollment/

The application process includes:

1. Complete an interdistrict permit (contact your school district of residence for the form).

2. Visit your district of residence and submit the completed interdistrict permit for approval. Your district may require additional items and/or an in-person visit. Please speak with them about their requirements for your permit.

3. Once you have been approved by your district of residence, please submit the original approved permit, along with the required proofs outlined in AR 5117, to Sylvia Eggert, Administrative Assistant to the Superintendent, PUSD, 760 Magnolia Avenue, Piedmont, CA 94611.

4. PUSD will begin processing submitted interdistrict permits on June 24, 2019. If your permit is approved, you will be contacted by a PUSD representative by August 1, 2019.

READ the full policy below:

Board Policy and Administrative Regulation (AR) 5117 

http://www.piedmont.k12.ca.us/district-info/enrollment/

Questions ? Contact Administrative Assistant Sylvia Eggert at 510.594.2614 or seggert@piedmont.k12.ca.us

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.
Jun 11 2019

A Search for Students to Fill Piedmont Schools

A reduction in school populations, the potential loss of State per student revenue, and State Open Enrollment laws have induced the Piedmont School District to widen student acceptance to Piedmont schools on a priority basis.  The children of Piedmont City employees and Piedmont School District employees have previously been admitted to Piedmont schools. Newly added for priority acceptance are the non-resident grandchildren of Piedmont residents along with children residing in certain neighboring Piedmont properties.

The matter will be undertaken at 7:25 p.m.,  Wednesday, June 12, 2019, School Board Meeting, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  

Specific qualifications and applications are required for each potential interdistrict transfer student into the Piedmont schools.  Once a student is accepted into the Piedmont School District, they are allowed to remain during their school years.  See the proposed requirements linked below.

VI.B. Review and Approve Changes to Board Policy and Administrative Regulation 5117 – Interdistrict Attendance – 2nd Reading

VI_B_BackgroundBPAR5117InterdistrictTransferPolicies_0 (1)

VI_B_DraftBPAR5117InterdistrictTransfers_0 (1)

VI_B_DraftIDTAnnouncementLetter_0 (1)

Jun 11 2019

7:15 PM Piedmont School Board Meeting June 12, 2019, Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.

The public is invited to attend or watch the live broadcast on Cable Channel 27 and from the City website under videos/School Board meeting.

 VI.A. Conduct Public Hearing on the Proposed Levy of Current School Support Tax, Measure A, to be Levied in 2019-20

VI_A_MeasureATaxLevyReport_0

Jun 11 2019

One tax measure taxes every parcel equally and the second measure is an additional tax based on building square footage. Both measures will have a term of 8 years.

The public is invited to attend or watch the live broadcast on Cable Channel 27 and from the City website under videos/School Board meeting. 

8:45 PM  Piedmont Unified School Board meeting, June 12, 2019, Piedmont City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  

Staff recommendation to the School Board: 

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 $2,709 flat rate (“Measure A”) and in a separate measure (“Measure B”) asking voters for an additional amount ($0.25 per square foot of building improvements) 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, $10.6 million in revenues.

Measure A is a continuation, no tax increase measure. We 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. Additionally, we recommend that a second measure (“Measure B”) be placed on the ballot. This second measure would be set at $0.25 per square foot of building improvements 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 $2,795 per year, and the largest square foot homeowner would pay $6,568 per year. Together, both measures would raise $13.3 million.

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

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.

VI_E_BackgroundSchoolSupportTax_0

VI_E_Resolution19201819MeasureA

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

9:05 PM

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_F_Resolution20201819MeasureBParcelTax_0

May 6 2019

Recommendation:

Two parcel tax measures: one for each separate parcel and a second measure, an additional add on tax based on square footage of each Piedmont building including single family residences. See full report linked below.

The School Board will discuss potential School District parcel tax measures at their Wednesday, May 8, 2019 Board Meeting in City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The meeting will be broadcast live on cable Channel 27 and the Piedmont website under videos/school board. The tax measure agenda item is set for 8:40 p.m.

  1. Recommendation 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 $2,656 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 qualified teachers and staff.  Renewing the existing parcel tax (“Measure A”) would secure, $10.5 million in revenues. Measure A is a continuation, no tax increase measure. We 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.  Additionally, we recommend that a second measure (“Measure B”) be placed on the ballot. 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 $2,795 per year, and the largest square foot homeowner would pay $6,568 per year. Together, both measures would raise $13.1 million.

Read the full staff report on the tax measures: > VII_C_BackgroundSchoolSupportTax_0

Read the full May 8 School Board Agenda > https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=1241&MeetingID=72017&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False

May 6 2019

RECOMMENDATION: District staff requests that the Board accept the Department of Justice Tobacco Cessation Grant to address student use, exposure, and perceived harm of controlled substances (e.g. alcohol, drugs, and cigarettes).

“This specially trained officer (Juvenile Officer) will partner with PUSD to collaboratively conduct student and parent education classes on the harms of tobacco use and develop a Diversion Program for youth who are detected using tobacco products.

Finally, the Juvenile Officer will work with the PUSD to identify and implement tobacco/vaping mitigation strategies. Additionally, with the support of the Dept. of Justice Tobacco Cessation Grant, PUSD staff has developed goals and actions to help mitigate controlled substance use (e-cigarettes, drugs, alcohol)”:

Read full report below: 

VII_B_BackgroundDOJTobaccoCessationGrant_0

Read the full May 8 School Board Agenda: https://agendaonline.net/public/Meeting.aspx?AgencyID=1241&MeetingID=72017&AgencyTypeID=1&IsArchived=False

The May 8th Piedmont School Board meeting will be held at 120 Vista Avenue, Piedmont, City Hall.  The Grant will be considered at 8:10 p.m. and broadcast live on cable Channel 27 and also on the City of Piedmont website under videos/school board. 

Apr 22 2019

Discussion of School Support Tax Polling Results:

Piedmont Unified School District, City Hall, 120 Vista Avenue.  The School Board Meeting will be broadcast live 7:15 p.m., Wednesday, April 24th on Cable Channel 27 and from the City website under videos/School Board meeting.

READ the staff reports below:

VI_A_BackgroundSchoolSupportTaxPollingResults_

VI_A_PollingResultsPresentation_

Apr 22 2019

School Board Discussion Wednesday, April 24 of Building Square Footage Tax Basis

Recently I published a letter advocating a progressive per square foot of building tax, that no owner pay more than $4,999, unimproved lots would be taxed at $1099, a SSI/SSIW exemption be included, a 2% annual cost adjustment and an optional income based senior exemption with at most a 2% revenue reduction. Locally the per square foot of building tax is used to support Alameda, Berkeley Emeryville, and West Contra Costa County Schools.

Mr. Raushenbush published a letter opposing my square foot building tax proposal; I first presented this to our School Board Jan. 9. The per square foot of building tax is a more equitable progressive tax than the previous five tier parcel with commercial differentiations levy that Piedmont used for 27 years. Mr Raushenbush also states that a per square foot of building tax is not legally viable despite it being in common use in other School Districts.

This Wednesday April 24, 2019 at 7 p.m. Piedmont School District meeting will include the results of a survey concerning a per square foot of building tax and the existing flat rate parcel tax. The final ballot result at p.15 of the report shows definite/probable yes at 73% for the per square foot and 62% for the flat rate. 67% is needed to pass.

Rick Raushenbush was Chair of the School Board at the Dec. 11, 2012 emergency meeting when the existing 27 year partially progressive tax was replaced with current Measure A flat rate tax. Chairman Raushenbush stated the 27 year tax “had a variety of progressivity to it.” (Dec. 12, 2012 video at 14:40) http://piedmont.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=3&clip_id=851

The result of going from the previous tax with “progressivity” in 2012 to a flat rate tax resulted in the following. Of the 3,921 School tax parcels in Piedmont, 76% of Piedmont homes are on parcels under 10,000 square feet (“sf”). The 2012 flat rate “emergency” tax raised their previous $1,989 and $2,260 taxes to $2,406, a 6% to 21% increase. Taxes on undeveloped parcels, another 2%+ of taxpayers, went from $1,009 to $2,406, a 238% increase. Today the $2,406 tax is $2,656. At the same time a small percentage of taxpayers received significant reductions. Owners of large parcels, commercial buildings and multi-unit buildings saw reductions of 7% to 80%. Some large commercial buildings previously taxed at $5,052 went to $2,406, a 52% decrease. Lots of 20,000 sf went from $3,378 to $2,406, a 29% decrease. A multi-unit building went from $11,907 to $2,406, an 80% decrease.

The 2012 Board expressed regret at creating the above inequities. When I presented my square foot progressive tax idea to the School Board earlier this year, the regret was again sincerely expressed. The School Board wants to adequately fund our schools and in the most equitable manner possible. The history of other School Districts and their use of a per square foot of building tax:

I. ALAMEDA’s June 2008 tax Measure H imposed different tax rates on residential and commercial property. Alameda was sued by Borikas (as the case is commonly identified) and Alameda prevailed in Superior Court. Borikas plaintiffs appealed and the Appeals court reversed in favor of Borikas Dec. 2012.

March 2011 Alameda passed Measure A which abandoned the previous Measure H tax and imposed 32 cents “per building square foot.” Measure A also has an annual $7,999 cap and unimproved lots at $299. The same Boricas plaintiffs sued (Nelco, Inc. v. Alameda Unified School District, Alameda County Superior Court, #RG 08-405984 Measure A) to invalidate Measure A. Sep. 2011 Judge Frank Roesch, Alameda County Superior Court . . . rejected all the Plaintiff’s claims and dismissed the petition in the case (Alameda Patch Sep. 13. 2011). The per square foot tax of Measure A remained in place.

Nov 2016 Alameda passed Measure B1 which duplicated and continued the “per square foot of building” tax of Measure A. Alameda was then sued on the same issues by the same Nelco plaintiffs that had opposed Measure A in 2011. In Feb 2018 Alameda prevailed in Superior Court. See May 4, 2018: http://www.alameda.k12.ca.us/news/view?d=x&id=1525422895157

Since 2011 Alameda School District has used and continues to use the per square foot building tax. Alameda has been sued twice specifically on it’s per square foot tax. Both times Alameda Schools prevailed in court and uses the per square foot of building tax since 2011.

II. EMERYVILLE schools (“Emery”) passed a per square foot of building tax in July 2007. When considering a renewal of its previous 15 cent per square foot building tax, Emery relied on the legal opinion of two attorneys from Fagan, Friedman, Fulfrost, LLP and the opinion of a third legal expert on school tax challenges from Lozano, Smith. A fourth attorney that specializes in litigating educations issues, John Affeldt, was on the Emery board at the time. Measure K passed Nov. 2014 and imposes “fifteen cents of building area per square foot” for 20 years. In summary since 2007 the per square foot of building tax has been and is used in Emeryville unchallenged. Piedmont uses the same legal firm of Fagan, Friedman, Fulfrost, and LLP

III. BERKELEY passed School tax Measure H Nov 2010 which imposed a per square foot of building tax at 6.31 cents and 9.46 cents respectively on residential and commercial buildings. Nov 2016 Berkeley passed Measure E1 which imposed 37 cents per square foot of tax on “all taxable buildings.” Likely Measure E1 eliminated the residential commercial differentiation because of Borikas. Berkeley Schools use the per square foot building tax and has not been challenged.

IV. WEST CONTRA COSTA COUNTY started using per square foot of building tax in 2004; the tax imposed 7.2 cents per square foot of building and $7.20 on unimproved property. An identical tax was renewed 2008 with Measure D and again Nov 2012 with Measure G. 1/4/2013 plaintiffs Bypass 93 Properties & American Standard properties represented by David Brilliant, the Borikas attorney, sued to invalidate Measure G ( Contra Costa 1/4/2013 MSC13-00024). The same plaintiffs also sued the San Leandro School District. The result of the litigation against West Contra Cost is that in 2016 West Contra Costa passed Measure T which retained the 7.2 cents per building square foot and eliminated the unimproved property differentiation. Unchallenged Measure T renewed to 2024 and West Contra Costa continues to use a per square foot building tax. (Legislation AB2954 passed Sep 2018 now allows a different unimproved property rate. The plain language is readily understandable as I am not an attorney.)

Dannis, Woliver & Kelley, a noted Law Firm that drafts and administers Parcel taxes, commented on Donlinger, a Jan. 2019 appeals court decision concerning per square foot of building tax: “Last week (Jan 2019), a California appellant court validated a local agency’s special tax calculated on the basis of square footage of improved structures. In Donlinger . . . the statute involved mirrors the statutory authority used by school and community college district to levy parcel taxes, including the requirements that the tax be “uniform” . . . The court concluded: “We do not read the statute to require a uniform effect or outcome, but rather uniform application.””  https://www.dwkesq.com/per-square-foot-parcel-taxes-upheld-by-court-of-appeal/

Mr. Raushenbush states the per square foot of building tax is legally suspect. The per square foot of building school tax is used in Alameda which prevailed in 2011 and 2018 to legal challenges specific to its per square foot tax. There have been no legal challenges to per square foot school taxes in Berkeley and Emeryville. West Contra Costa after litigation uses a per square foot of building tax. Mr. Raushenbush raised the issue of litigation cost for Piedmont schools; all School Districts take litigation costs as seriously as Piedmont, they will not invite litigation and the per square foot tax is now unexceptional. There is no case of a per square foot building school tax being litigated which forced the School District to abandon the per square foot tax.

The groups of Plaintiffs in the various actions against Alameda Schools are large commercial property owners. In Piedmont a litigant would most likely be a homeowner who would then likely suffer a significant social stigma. With a reasonable cap in place, I suggest $4,999, the very few commercial owners that previously paid $5,052 before 2013 would have no incentive to sue. While virtually anything can be contested with a financially willing client, the likelihood of a per square foot of building School tax being challenged by a Piedmont resident is unthinkable.

Mr. Raushenbush states that unimproved lots should be taxed the same as homes “as the Piedmont schools make those parcels valuable.” A few examples of the 100+ unimproved lots currently taxed at our $2,656 flat rate:

Assessor’s Number       Lot Size             Tax Value                    Address
11-855-28                              nine sf                     $729                           558 Crofton
11-878-40                             21 sf                         $1,056                        1110 Portal
11-882-56                            38 sf                         $1,557                         1370 Sunnyhills
48C-7180-23                       200 sf                        $729                           5474 La Salle

There are at least 40 unimproved lots smaller than 1,000 sf. The owner/taxpayers of these low value unbuildable lots will never enjoy the increase in value created by our schools. Unimproved parcels and especially those that can never be improved should not be taxed at the same flat rate as a home.

Mr. Raushenbush misstates my income based senior exemption proposal by writing that a senior exemption will “impose a significant burden on remaining taxpayers.” A “significant burden” would be concerning to taxpayers if it were true, however Mr. Raushenbush omits key parts of my letter. I wrote: “The tax may (underline added) include an income based senior exemption at a rate to be determined and would not cost the District more than 2% of what the total tax revenue would be without this exemption.” My specific proposal is if the exemption is included, the Board can set qualifying income levels so that the total revenue reduction is no more than 2% or less; or not have any senior exemption which is traditional in Piedmont. Mr. Raushenbush’s concern of a senior exemption “significant burden” is baseless.

While no tax can be uniformly fair to all taxpayers, a per square foot of building tax is the best option Piedmont has to continue providing adequate revenue for our schools in the most equitable manner available. The final ballot results of the Tax Survey P.15 shows definite/probable yes at 73% for the per square foot and 62% for the flat rate. 67% is needed to pass.

I ask the Board to put a square foot of building tax before voters this year.

Rick Schiller Piedmont resident

April 22, 2019

Editors Note: Opinions expressed are those of the author.