UPDATED ALAMEDA’S MEASURE A PASSES
UPDATE: With most of the 2,400 absentee ballots election officials received at the polls Tuesday, support for Alameda’s Measure A slid Wednesday, but the measure was still passing with 67.82 percent of the 21,180 ballots cast.
An elections official with the Alameda County Registrar of Voters told The Island on Wednesday that the office must still count a “handful” of absentee ballots and that officials there are researching between 400 and 500 provisional ballots submitted for the vote, a task that could be completed over the next few days. Stay tuned.
Alameda schools Superintendent Kirsten Vital broke down Tuesday night as she spoke to volunteers for the Measure A school parcel tax campaign. But unlike the night nine months ago when the school district’s last parcel tax try narrowly failed, these were tears of joy.
Voters approved the tax Tuesday night, with 68.43 percent of the 18,818 voters who cast ballots registering “yes” votes according to unofficial results. Roughly 45 percent of Alameda’s 41,609 registered voters turned out for the special election.
“I just thought about so many bad things that could happen for our children. And we just can’t have that,” Vital told a crowd of ebullient campaign volunteers who spilled down the steps of Tucker’s Ice Cream during a post-campaign event Tuesday night.
The school district will capture an estimated $12 million a year for each of the seven years the tax is in effect. Without it, Vital and other school leaders said they would be forced to close schools, raise class sizes and slash programs.
Opponents of the tax said it unfairly gives bigger property owners a tax break while pushing their tax burden off on homeowners and small business owners, and they questioned whether the cuts school district officials said would come without the tax would be made. On Tuesday night, they said the tax will delay needed reforms.
“Less than 32 percent of registered voters imposed an unfair, regressive tax on the residents of Alameda. This is a setback for the children of Alameda and their families,” the Committee Against Measure A’s David Howard wrote in a statement Tuesday. “Alameda residents will be surprised next year when they see their tax bills and realize what they voted for.”
Measure A will cost property owners 32 cents per square foot of building on each parcel they own, with a per-parcel cap of $7,999 or $299 for unimproved parcels like parking lots. Seniors and some disabled people can apply for an exemption from the tax, which replaces the district’s two existing parcel taxes.
Under Measure A, a homeowner with a 1,600-square-foot home would pay $512 a year in parcel tax for schools. That’s more than the $309 a year homeowners pay under the district’s existing parcel taxes, which are set to sunset in 2012.
School board president Ron Mooney credited a massive volunteer effort with the win, along with the support of much of the local business community. Jeff Cambra, who sits on the boards of the local Chamber of Commerce and the West Alameda Business Association, had worked with businesses to help draft a tax plan they felt comfortable supporting in the wake of last year’s Measure E, which business owners felt disproportionately targeted them. Measure A was endorsed by the Chamber and WABA, along with the Greater Alameda Business Association.
Measure E lost by around 250 votes last June, and the school district followed the loss by making $7.2 million in cuts. That tax would have raised $14 million a year, but it would also have imposed the same split roll business owners had objected to when its predecessor, Measure H, passed in 2008.