Parcel tax can't fix everything | January 23, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Perspective - January 23, 2009

Parcel tax can't fix everything

The school district has just completed forums held at its four high schools to get feedback from the community on how best to continue the parcel tax, which expires June 30.

The tax, passed in 2004 as the Excellence in Education Act, assesses each property in the San Ramon Valley Unified School District at $90 per year. It has funded specific programs, such as class-size reduction, fifth-grade instrumental music, middle and high school libraries, and counseling during the last four years. A new parcel tax will be even more important given the current budget slashing going on in Sacramento.

Measure D was on the ballot last June to continue the tax, asking for $166, but it was defeated, with 63 percent voting in favor when it needed two-thirds to pass. Now the district must decide on a monetary amount for a new parcel tax.

Consultant Jared Boigon of EMC Research suggested to the school board members that they recommend a moderate amount for the new tax, something from $128 to $144. Although at least one resident at the meeting recommended going as high as $350.

Although it is tempting to go for an amount that would make a dent in the projected deficit, the tax amount should be set closer to that recommended by the consultant. We cannot solve all the district's financial problems with a parcel tax. A certain segment of the population is against any new taxes, and it would only strengthen their argument to set the proposed tax too high.

The forums were held in an effort to gather information and do everything possible to get the voters to renew the parcel tax. After this good start, it would be a shame to jeopardize it by asking for too much money. We must remember the heartbreaks of 2003 and 2008, when the parcel taxes passed by a majority but not the requisite two-thirds. And this was before the economy entered its current challenges.