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UPDATED ALAMEDA’S MEASURE A PASSES

Submitted by on 1, March 8, 2011 – 10:35 pm43 Comments

Updated 5:02 p.m. Wednesday, March 9

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.

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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.

43 Comments »

  • Jon Spangler says:

    We attended the noisy and crowded YES on Measure A victory party at Tucker’s Ice Cream. The latest results, with 28/28 precincts reporting:

    Measure A – Alameda USD
    Unofficial Final Results

    YES – 68.43%

    NO – 31.57%

    And the percentage of YES votes is certain to climb as the absentee votes are counted. according to vote-count guru Mike McMahon. (Thanks, Mike!)

    Thank you to all those who worked for and voted for Measure A! You DID know what you were voting on, despite the efforts by Alamedans for Fair taxation and the Committee Against Measure A to misinform voters and spread ill will.

  • Danica says:

    Yay! I am so excited! Now I don’t have to move out of Alameda!

  • Lanie Anderson-Barrett says:

    Thank you, Jesus!! Those naysayers made Charlie Sheen look absolutely normal. Measure A – WINNING! Guess we can expect more of their rantings. Guess I’ll just pop a brewski, celebrate the victory, and sit back and watch the show…

  • Jack B. says:

    Great news for Alameda.

    Don’t forget to support our local businesses, because they made the difference. Please… if you can buy it here, do so. Let’s help prove that we are all in this together.

    • Laura Palmer says:

      Totally agree Jack! Let’s all commit to buying local whenever possible. I am so relieved this passed and last night’s gathering reminded me how lucky I am to be a part of this committed, intelligent, hard working (and fun!) community.

  • Chrissy says:

    Ok great, couple questions.
    1. when does this take effect?
    2. is this on top of the 2 measures that are supposed to sunset or do the old measures like H and something just go away now?

  • Kate Quick says:

    The naysayers will be back, so let us all let them know that we want to live in a friendly, cooperative community and that their negativity and mean tactics will not be tolerated. We need to encourage them to be “for” something and work with us to take positive actions to solve our problems. If over 2/3 of us can come together and agree to tax ourselves for the betterment of the community, we have great power to do even more positive things to build on this success. More volunteerism and donations to schools; more participation in civic life; more involvement with youth programs – its all good. We are on a roll!

  • Betty says:

    I find this a very sad day in Alameda.

    The citizens of this city were taken in by fear.

    I still would like to know why it takes almost 100 M. a year budget to educate 9,000 kids.
    I still would like to know why we have 1 administrator for every teacher.

    I support public education and would have voted for this parcel tax, but I do not trust the AUSD…there is something not right in Alameda.

    A very sad day indeed….

    • Tracy says:

      Betty, where is the data that supports your assertion that we have one administrator per teacher here? I teach in the district, and that has not been my observation.

    • Tracy says:

      Betty, I would still like to see the data that supports your statements above. You repeat that AUSD spends like crazy, but offer no proof.

    • Ian E says:

      According to the National Association of Independent Schools, the median tuition for their member private day schools in 2008-2009 in the United States was $17,441. By your numbers ($100M for 9,000 kids) AUSD is able to educate children for only $11k per child – a deal compared to private institutions – and yet Alameda still maintains excellent schools.

      (Sectarian private schools are much less expensive – I assume it’s because the church often owns the property and doesn’t have to pay a full salary for the educators)

    • Jon Spangler says:

      Betty, you have been misinformed or misled. AUSD has an extremely lean administrator-to-teacher ratio, as several reputable statewide studies show. The study(ies) like the one cited by the No on A forces lumps speech pathologists, counselors, special tutors, and a host of other classroom educators and specialists in with administrators, which is improper methodology.

      As to the now-$89 million annual AUSD budget, AUSD’s is typical for school districts its size, but Alameda’s kids receive an excellent education for the dollars spent, which is a below-average per-pupil expenditure. With many students from different cultures, the fact that public schools MUST take the harder-to-teach students that private schools often reject as “too expensive,” including all kinds of “special needs” kids, education is far more costly than when I was in school (I graduated from Sequoia HS in Redwood City in 1969.)

  • david burton says:

    Congratulations Alameda and a big thanks to everyone who voted. A special thanks to all the folks with AlamedaSOS who did the heavy lifting to make the campaign a success.

    I agree with Jack B. – let’s show our appreciation for local businesses by shopping locally.

    For those residents who face hardship in paying additional assessments, perhaps someone better versed in tax law and charitable giving can come up with a plan whereby we can contribute to a fund that would help them out.

    According to David Howard’s “logic” it would have been okay for less than 16% of registered voters to impose their will on the overwhelming majority? His statement, as is typically the case, makes absolutely no sense. I hope that his failure in this campaign is a sign that Alamedans are tired of his brand of misinformation and vitriol. Vigorous, honest debate is to be welcomed, deceit and divisiveness, not so much.

  • Margie Sherratt says:

    I couldn’t have said it better. Thanks, Kate.

    I am so grateful to be a part of this committed, forward thinking community, one that realizes the importance of, and the value our children’s education.

  • Karen Bey says:

    This is great news! I’m so excited to know that the majority of this community believes that education is a priority. We have now joined other communities in the bay area, like Berkeley, Piedmont, and Albany who have successfully passed parcel taxes and have put education first.

  • Scott says:

    I am so happy for Alameda today. As a future teacher and Alameda resident, I am so happy to know that the education system in my home town and the town I hope to have my children grow up in will be secure for some time out. Once I receive my teaching degree, I hope to be part of the Alameda School District so I can give back to where the community and the schools our taxes are paying for!! YAY ALAMEDA!

  • Yesterday’s vote for Measure A was a great day for all the Alameda children, the schools, the teachers and the whole City of Alameda!

  • Steve says:

    Wow! Measure A passes with a super-majority. That really speaks well of this community’s support of its public schools, ESPECIALLY in light of these tough economic times. Way to go Alameda!

  • Jody Willson Palmer says:

    YEAH!!!!

    I am so happy that this ordeal is over, and our schools have the funding they need! I am so happy that now I don’t have to worry about my neighborhood school closing, and my home value dropping any more than it already has! I am so glad that Alameda will continue to attract upstanding families who care about education. I am so, SO glad I don’t need to come up with $20,000 a year for private school, or alternatively, move away. Yeah! Yeah! Yeah!

    Thank you to all the voters who voted Yes on A!

  • Becky Sotello says:

    Congrats, Alameda!

    I am off at college, and no longer live in Alameda, but I remember struggling to pass Measure H and I’m so glad our Alamedans are still fighting the good fight! Education first!

  • Lori Keep says:

    A community that supports its schools is a community worth living in. I feel privileged to have been part of such a well organized, upbeat campaign in support of Measure A. The sense of community was palpable at the election gathering at Tuckers last night. I am happy that Wood will not close and that my daughter will still have a middle school band to play her trumpet in! I love this town!

  • Michele Kuttner says:

    I’ve updated my Yes on A sign. It now reads, “Thank you, Alameda!” Today was such a lovely day at school-parents hugging, teachers smiling. I feel confident that I speak for the teachers, parents and so many Alamedans when I say I am proud, grateful and ready to take on the challenges ahead knowing that we have the support of this wonderful community.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    I must admit I am as much relieved as I am happy that A has passed. I’m not sure I could take another campaign’s worth of blog-combat with certain individuals…. :-)

  • Kathleen Seabolt says:

    Many thanks to our committed volunteers – SOSAlameda!

  • concerned_citizen says:

    I’d like to see a breakdown of enrollment by school, and costs to maintain each school – including Charter Schools.

    I’ve heard that one culprit for diluted state funding is enrollment drifting from traditional to charter schools, but even with this, the infrastructure costs for supporting the charter schools is higher per pupil. That makes Charter Schools a double negative whammy on school funding for traditional public schools.

    If someone has the data to disprove this, by all means, pls advise.

  • Betty says:

    I must say I am very happy. Yea Alameda for passing Measure A.
    According to KRON-TV Alameda now has the most expensive parcel taxes in the state. We’ver surpassed Atherton, Piedmont and Beverly Hills! So for those of you who thought our property values will go down, people will be waiting in line to buy houses in Alameda.
    I am getting rid of my cable and if my 1300.00 a month health insurance doesn’t go up we’ll be just fine. Except I’ll have a very unhappy disabled husband who can no longer watch his beloved Giants.
    But at least the superintendent will get her raise.
    Yep! It’s a good day.

    • Larry says:

      Betty, KRON is wrong. I was looking at moving to Piedmont if Measure A didn’t pass. A house my size pays two school parcel taxes of $1,800 combined. I will pay about $400 under Measure A.

      You’re right. It’s a great day!

  • dave says:

    Piedmont’s school parcel taxes are more than $2000/yr.

  • Jon Spangler says:

    Betty, if your husband is disabled you may qualify for an exemption from paying the parcel tax. Seniors and those receiving SSI for a disability can apply for an exemption from the school district office.

  • 3rdGenAlamedaNative says:

    Well, Margie Sherratt, it’s your pension.

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