Updated ALAMEDA’S MEASURE E FAILS
Alameda’s Measure E school parcel tax appears to have fallen short of the vote count it needed to pass, results released Wednesday afternoon showed.
A county elections official confirmed all the votes had been counted, but she said the results wouldn’t be certified as final until later this week, following a standard manual tally of 1 percent of the votes cast.
Some 65.62 percent of the 22,029 voters who cast ballots in the mail-only election voted in favor of the tax, while 34.38 percent voted against it. The measure needed the approval of two-thirds of voters to pass.
“Today we have won an important battle for fair taxation, control of government spending and return to a robust economy that can support the social services we, the people desire. This is a victory in the fight against predatory taxation,” The Committee Against Measure E’s Ed Hirshberg said.
Hirshberg, who hasn’t disputed the school district’s claim that it needs money in the wake of massive state funding cuts, said that if the Board of Education were to put a flat rate tax on the ballot that is “reasonable and fair,” he wouldn’t oppose it. Hirshberg had originally said he’d support a universal rate of four cents per square foot, though district staffers said that wouldn’t be enough to close the funding gap. Wednesday afternoon, he said he thought a higher rate might be “achievable.”
Meanwhile, he said he plans to appeal an Alameda County Superior Court judge’s rejection of a lawsuit seeking to invalidate Measure H, one of the district’s two existing parcel taxes. Those taxes aren’t slated to sunset until 2012.
APLUS campaign spokesman John Knox White said he’s proud of the campaign proponents of the measure ran, and he pointed out that they earned more “yes” votes than proponents of Measure H, which voters approved in 2008.
“Over 14,000 Alamedans and two-thirds of the people who voted supported our schools. And we’re very appreciative of that,” Knox White said. “I am very thankful to all the volunteers who worked so hard. They should be proud of what they achieved.”
Knox White said the campaign’s leaders have conceded the voted and that they will not request a recount.
At Tuesdya night’s school board meeting and again Wednesday after the votes were all counted, Superintendent Kirsten Vital thanked supporters, who she credited for making the vote as close as it was.
“Despite the fact that the results did not turn out as we had hoped, we should all be extremely proud of what we did achieve. A two-thirds vote is often times an impossible hurdle to overcome, yet we came very close.”
She said the effects of the loss will begin to be felt when students return to school in late August, and that school closures will be considered starting in the fall, with actual closures to be implemented in the 2011-2012 school year.
The school board approved $7.2 million in cuts for next year’s budget, including five fewer school days and bigger class sizes next year. And district staff have said they will need to close schools in 2011-12 to balance their budget.
The tax would have cost homeowners $659 for each of the next eight years and commercial property owners 13 cents per square foot of lot up to $9,500 per parcel. It would have replaced the district’s existing Measure A and Measure H parcel taxes.
The new tax would have raised $14 million a year, double what Measure A and Measure H earn the district. The Board of Education put the tax on the ballot in an effort to avoid an anticipated $7 million budget deficit for the 2010-2011 school year that they said they faced as a result of millions of dollars in state funding cuts.
Some 52.88 percent of Alameda’s 41,658 registered voters cast ballots in the election. Voting closed at 8 p.m. Tuesday.