Measure E opponents to develop parcel tax proposal
Alamedans for Fair Taxation’s Ed Hirshberg says the group the committee assembled to work on a new tax proposal will also interview candidates for two school board seats up for grab this November.
“We’ve always said we want to support the schools,” Hirshberg was quoted as saying in a press release announcing the effort. “(B)ut we insist that the tax be fair and uniform across all taxpayers, and not subject the local business community to predatory taxation, as past tax measures have done. By structuring the tax ourselves, and taking it to the public ourselves, we think we can come up with something that a two-thirds majority of voters will approve.”
Hirshberg declined to name the other members of the group without their permission Saturday, citing concerns about potential boycotts of their businesses. The group has not set a hard-and-fast timeline for their efforts.
Hirshberg has said he would support a uniform tax of four cents per square foot for all property owners, but he said he and his group will examine other options for a new tax. Proponents of Measure E had said that amount would bring in less money than the district’s existing Measure A and H parcel taxes, which are expected to net the district about $7 million a year until they expire in 2012.
Commercial property and business owners had said that the Measure E tax was unfair to them because many of them would be asked to pay more than homeowners. If implemented, the tax would have cost homeowners $659 a year for eight years and commercial property owners 13 cents per square foot of lot, with a cap of $9,500 a parcel.
The structure of the Measure E tax was formulated by an advisory group that came out of one of the two lawsuits filed by commercial property owners seeking to invalidate the tax. Hirshberg and others involved in the other suit declined to participate in that group, saying they didn’t think it would provide the outcome they sought.
Superintendent Kirsten Vital could not be reached for comment on the group’s efforts Friday. But the school board decided at its June 29 meeting to direct her to look into putting a new tax on the ballot in the spring of 2011.
In the face of unprecedented state funding cuts, the school board approved $7.2 million in cuts for the 2010-2011 school year. Vital and her staff will also be planning for potential school closures for the 2011-2012 school year.
School board seats held by Tracy Jensen and Mike McMahon are up for a vote in the fall.
At a meeting held Thursday night, representatives from the APLUS Measure E campaign, the Alameda Education Foundation, the PTA Council and the school district determined that the only way to provide the money the school district needs is to ask voters to support another parcel tax, APLUS volunteer coordinator Sarah Olaes said.
Olaes said it wasn’t APLUS’s place to comment on Alamedans for Fair Taxation’s efforts. But she urged people interested in donating money to the schools to send it to APLUS instead, “so that they will have the necessary financial strength to run the next campaign.”