San Carlos Real Estate Agent, San Carlos Realtor It’s Official: $78 School Tax to go to San Carlos Voters in May… | The White Oaks Blog
San Carlos Schools February 5, 2009

It’s Official: $78 School Tax to go to San Carlos Voters in May…

by Chuck Gillooley

scsd

When Measure S went down to defeat in the November election, the members of the San Carlos Elementary School Board vowed to regroup, learn from their experiences from Measure S, and introduce another parcel tax initiative in a future election.   The Board has now fulfilled this vow by unanimously voting to put a special school parcel tax to San Carlos residents this May.    While more details will be forthcoming, here are the key highlights of this proposal:

  1. Vote will be an “all mail” ballot to be delivered in May 2009.
  2. Proposed tax:  $78 per household and business.
  3. Duration of tax assessment:  6 years.
  4. 2/3 approval required.
  5. Senior citizens 65 years or older to be exempt.

School officials admit that this tax will only repair about half of the revenue shortfall covered by the state budget crisis and the Lehman Brother’s investment collapse.   The District will rely on the efforts of private fundraising organizations like the San Carlos Educational Foundation to make up the remaining gap.

I’ll update the site as more details become available about this proposed parcel tax.   In the meantime, I’m sure that I’m not alone in searching for an answer to this question:

If a school parcel tax failed in November, what will ensure that a new one will pass in May?

Hopefully, someone who is closer to the initiative can help answer this question…

——————————————————————–
__________________________________________________________________

Welcome to to the White Oaks Blog — the most widely read blog dedicated to the San Carlos real estate market! Have blog updates sent to you automatically by subscribing for free by clicking here. Be sure to follow the White Oaks Blog on Facebook at https://Facebook.com/WhiteOaksBlog , and on Twitter @WhiteOaksBlog.
Don’t miss a single update!
_____________________________________________________________________________

GD Star Rating
loading...
GD Star Rating
loading...
Comments 31
  • I would support a parcel tax only if it were prorated according to the amount I am already paying in property tax towards schools. Since Prop 13 has significantly skewed how much each property is contributing to local education, I will not support a flat raise in the parcel tax.

    A “catch-up” clause to push the bulk of the parcel tax increase onto those who pay below market-value property tax would be nice, but I am sure that will never pass.

    I don’t understand why there is an exemption for seniors if this is for the common good of San Carlos, and not just for families with kids in school. Prop 13 is already effectively making that exemption, and seniors have just as much an interest in maintaining property values as anyone else. What about an exemption for those who have no kids in school?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • I AGREE 100% with the previous post! Why San Carlos senior citizens are presumed to be destitute and cannot afford to pay anywhere close to their fair share is so unrealistic. Prop 13 has really come home to roost and the direct recipients of that proposition are still benefiting outside of that proposition. I would love to hear the arguement in favor of this exemption. If a senior is going to be exempt, they should have to supply records to support why they cannot afford to pay the tax.

    Since we exclude seniors from this tax, is it fair to require families with children using the public schools to pay additional monies? If this is going to pass, it needs to be fair to everyone. As it stands, I believe this is unfair.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • a couple more points:

    1) If seniors will not have to pay the tax, shouldn’t they be excluded from voting on the measure?

    2) If a home is jointly owned by a senior AND a non-senior, is that parcel exempt or would they pay half?

    I am really looking forward to feedback.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • I’ll attempt to answer some of the questions posed on this thread. First, to Chuck’s question about what will make this measure have a different outcome than the one in November, I think there are three main reasons:
    – This parcel tax has a fixed term, unlike Measure S which went on inperpetuity
    – The parcel tax does not also renew (and make perpetual) the existing Measure D tax. It leaves Measure D to sunset on its own in 2011.
    – There is much bigger grass-roots community effort to run this campaign than the last time around. Perhaps it was due to losing Measure S, or perhaps it’s just due to the more obviousness of our financial situation (the School Board is looking into cuts of up to $2 million, and people are starting to understand that this can cut into the heart of our educational programs). So I suspect there will be much greater community outreach, education, and passion around this measure.

    To the questions around senior excemptions and the form of the tax…keep in mind that the law restricts us as a School District to propose only one kind of tax — the flat dollar per parcel tax. We are not allowed to create a percentage-based tax or any other kind. Also, by law, every registered voter in the District can vote on any measure regardless of whether he or she is personally affected by it. The Senior Exemption is one of the only modification the law allows, and it is designed to mitigate some of the regressiveness inherent in a flat dollar amount tax. Now, we know in practice that it’s not completely equitable, but it is one of the tools we have to help blunt the financial impact to certain people. Seniors must file for the exemption — it isn’t automatic. In practice, many seniors do not file for the exemption, but certainly any can, and it’ likely that those who have the greatest hardship will.

    Also note that the current Parcel Tax, Measure D, already has a Senior Exemption, so it would have been odd not to include one in this measure.

    So, I certainly understand people’s passion around the inherent unfairness of the system, but you must appreciate that we have to work within the law to get the best outcome for our kids are for the larger community.

    There is no other legal path to give a benefit (or impose a greater burden) to one segment of the population. Any change to this would require the State making a dramatic overhaul to our tax system, including a lot of the provisions of Proposition 13.

    To the last question, the language reads: “…any parcel owned and occupied by a person 65 years of age or older shall be exempt…”

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • As a San Carlos home owner of almost 3 years, my wife and I already pay over $12K/year on property taxes. We have no children. In this economy, there is no way we will vote Yes on this measure. The only solution to fix the school budget issues (not only for our city, but for the entire state) is to revamp the entire tax code. Prop 13 has destroyed the schools. How can our public schools on the Peninsula be so underfunded when we pay some of the highest property taxes in the country (based on home purchase rates)? It’s crazy to keep on asking people who are already paying more than their fair share of taxes to pay even more.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • I certainly appreciate anyone’s concern about the money they pay in taxes, particularly in a tough economy. But I would like to point out three things:

    – In the scheme of things, $78 is miniscule compared to the amount of other taxes we pay — this amounts to just more than $6/month, so it’s pretty modest

    – Although I agree the entire system is broken, it is unrealistic to assume that it will be fixed any time soon. In parallel to pressuring our legislative leaders to solve the larger problem, we must use the tools we currently have to solve the problem we have today. And today, that only tool is a parcel tax. This is absolute crisis, and our schools will be gutted without additional revenue. It seems unfair to me to hurt our children because of a broken system that they had no hand in designing.

    – Lastly, since a significant impact to our schools will most surely affect property values, it is almost a certainty that the passage of this parcel tax would increase home values (or stop the decrease of home values) by more than the cost of the tax itself. So, regardless of whether you have children in the schools that are affected, from a purely self-serving point of view, it seems like a good deal for every homeowner. Pay $78, and get a lot more back in value to your home.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • OK – seems like the whole funding process is hamstrung by a convoluted set of rules, and the ballot measure is being written just to have the best chance of passing – that seems to me the only reason the senior exemption is in there.

    How about adopting some of the same things that are done in healthcare programs (not that I am suggesting that to be a model of excellence)? Impose a “co-pay” element to public schools such that families who actually have children in schools can help the schools out directly. I figure if 10% of homes in San Carlos have children in school, then instead of a blanket parcel tax of $78 on every home, families with children in school will have to pay $780 per year.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Interesting that you suggest that, because we essentially do have that system now. We can’t require it, because again, by law, public school is supposed to be “free.” But in reality, most parents know that isn’t true. San Carlos has actually been quite successful in growing its Educational Foundation (see http://www.scef.us for more details) that asks each parent to donate $500 per child per year to the foundation, which then in turn donates the money to the school district. Many parents actually give more. We have been fortunate in San Carlos that our parents have “stepped up” quite a bit more than neighboring commnunities. This past year, the Foundation donated $1.2 million to the school district. So, without the SCEF, the school district would be approximately $3 million in the hole next year instead of $2 million.

    So, you’re right — it’s a convoluted set of rules. And the only way in California that we can even approximate a great education for our children is to do a combination of things — essentially a shared sacrifice, where (a) parents donate through an educational foundation, (b) the larger community supports the schools through a parcel tax, and (c) expenses are kept every low, which means keeping a very lean staff with modest salaries for teachers, etc. We need to continue to do all of those things in San Carlos.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • I still lean toward RB on this issue.

    If, as Seth states, $78 is a miniscule amount for a household to pay, senior citizens should not be exempted. As I have stated in past postings, it needs to be fair to everyone. If those of us without children in the public schools are supposed to be convinced that we will benefit from this tax, why then should the same case not be made to seniors and require them to pay?? They have already benefited by Prop 13, the rise in home values, our increased property taxes, etc. The fact that no senior groups got together to say they would pay to keep the SCOOT is a glaring example of how this group is so silent unless something is being taken away from them. Call it elder bashing if you like, but seniors are not poor by virtue of their age. I expect to continue to pay my fair share into my golden years and am planning accordingly. Most of these people should have done (and probably did) the same. There are plenty of seniors in my immediate neighborhood driving expensive cars and adequately maintaining their large $1+MM homes. They can afford to pay.

    If a non-senior homeowner cannot afford to pay, is it an option for them to be exempt or are they forced to pay?

    If the amount were less per parcel and seniors were included (face it, this is clearly not about the dollar amount), I think the group that RB and I are in might be won over.

    A few weeks ago, I was called asking my views in advance of this measure being written and offered this same suggestion; clearly I was not heard or others conformed to the standard questions (I offered my ideas unsolicited).

    Until ALL San Carlos homeowners are included in this or any measure, there will be a large gap (at least enough to prevent this from passing) in support.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Again, I don’t disagree with you on the notion of fairness, but there is a political reality here. Regardless of what we each may personally feel, school parcel taxes without senior exemptions are more likely to fail. This is just a fact. More people are disenfranchised by it’s lack of existence than someone like you who (understandably) feels disenfranchised by its existence.

    So, I just ask that you keep the bigger picture in mind here. This is about doing all we can to help kids, and kids who have no political voice. Kids who had no hand in designing the system, or creating the politics, to which they are subject. And the best thing we can do for kids is pass this parcel tax in this current form. We will have a much more severe problem as a community if it fails. BTW, I’m more than happy to chat anyone over the phone to discuss this in more detail. Send me an e-mail at seth@rosenblatt.org.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Sorry Seth, but I too have to agree with Michael, RB and others. I don’t think there should be a senior exemption… seniors are not automatically poor, just like those of us in our 40s aren’t automatically wealthy! Why isn’t everybody subject to the tax, with some sort of a hardship exemption (e.g. income under $XX,000)? Seems to me that would be more fair.

    By the way, in all your posts you say something like “think of the kids!! the poor kids!! who had no hand in designing the system or creating the politics.” Well, I had no hand in creating Prop 13. Think about me! Poor me!

    All I have now is my political vote and I would not vote for this measure. So far on this board the nays have it… so why do you say things like more people are disenfranchised one way than another? I just can’t agree with you on this one… sorry!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Well, you are certainly entitled to your opinion and to your vote — that is the point of democracy. I again just want to reiterate that the point about the senior exemption is not one of fairness, but one of practicality. It traces back to the practical political fact that seniors vote at much, much higher rates than other age groups. (And as I pointed out before, we don’t have any other tools in our toolbelt — we’re not allowed by law to create a hardship exemption, even though I agree with you that seem more fair). We didn’t create this reality, but to be successful, we need to recognize it.

    The irony of course, is that Proposition 13 is one of things that got us in this problem in the first place — this is why California is on the bottom five of all 50 states in funding education (just above Mississippi, I believe).

    And despite the tone on this blog, I am optimistic that a far majority of San Carlans will support the measure, as 66% supported it last time (and 70+% for Measure D in 2003) — and both of those had a senior exemption as well (as did practically every other school parcel tax measure passed in the Bay Area).

    I’m sorry to hear you won’t support our school children just to make this point.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Seth, obviously seniors vote at higher rates than other age groups… that’s why I feel it’s so important for me to vote no. If enough non-seniors start to vote, maybe our voices will seem louder.

      By the way, it seems a bit odd to quote statistics that include a large bunch of folks who aren’t impacted by a tax. Do you think that so many seniors would have supported previous measures had they been financially affected?

      And please… telling me that I don’t support school children just to make a point is just insulting. Either you agree with me or you don’t, but don’t patronize me by telling me to “think of the children!”

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • It’s a bit sad that this measure has to be manipulated in order to get it to pass. Those benefitted by Prop 13 get further benefits by virtue of their voting frequency.

    I would love to hear from a senior that disagrees with this exemption. Further, I would like to hear from families with children who also think this is unfair. Although the silence from these groups is deafening, I know there have to be people out there who can’t agree with this exemption; it is simply and shamefully biased.

    How disheartening it is that the concept of disenfranchisement seems justified in the name of our “poor kids”.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • There’s actually a huge group of parents rallying to support this measure (not withstanding the imperfections of the system). I suspect you’ll hear from them a lot in the next month or so. They know first hand what the consequences will be if this measure doesn’t pass. If you’d like to speak to a number of these families, please send me a note at seth@rosenblatt.org.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Quite frankly, I’m surprised that people won’t vote for this parcel tax, especially if it’s just to make a point that seniors should pay more. Your ‘No’ vote will have little impact on what we all know is a broken system, but will directly impact the value of your real estate. One of the primary reasons San Carlos real estate values have remained high/stable (despite the relatively small size of the homes and lots!) is the good schools. Once the stability of the schools suffer, there go the real estate values.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • I have a HUGE problem with exclusion in any form. If you are going to benefit from this, you very simply should pay what the rest of us have to pay.

    I am not necessarily saying the schools are not a worthy cause. But where does it stop? I can’t legally get married in this state, yet I am expected to pay for all the benefits that married couples enjoy. If my partner dies or I die, our home WILL BE reassessed at current market value and the taxes will go up proportionately. We bought here 6 years ago and if that were to happen tomorrow, our taxes would go up about $5000 a year for the surviving partner…any one want to take a stab at convincing me that this is fair??? How many of you would want to have to shoulder that liability after YOUR spouse dies? (and for those of you that may now lump me into the militant liberal gay communist group, guess again; you would never pick me out of a crowd and I have been a registered republican since I was 18).

    I have paid many dollars for taxes, programs and benefits that will probably never benefit me directly and I usually just accept it for the good of EVERYONE. Whenever I see unfairness (and that is what this is) at the expense of others, I have to speak up.

    If the children are in such dire need, why then is a case not made to senior citizens (if indeed it would need to be made) for them to pay the “miniscule” amount of $6.50 per month???? How much more would that add to the school’s coffers??

    Based on the comments on this blog, no one has even tried to make a convincing argument to me. It is not about the money.

    There…now PLEASE bring me your convincing arguments.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • Take a look at this comment from another blog. It explains that San Carlos gets less than half of each property tax dollar compared to Foster City because of some inane provision of Prop 13. It sure goes a long way to explain why San Carlos has financial issues.

    http://fostercityblog.com/2009/02/hows-it-going/#comment-8225

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • There are three reasons that we are reluctant to vote for this bond:
    1. The economy
    2. I voted for a bond few years ago (it passed) It was expressly for the maintenance of the schools. Where did my money go??? I live near White Oaks and it’s appearance (garbage, peeling paint, shaggy lawns, etc) has only gotten worse since then! Many of the San Carlos schools are eyesores to their neighborhoods — (yes, I am talking about property values)!!!! With the exception of Brittan Acres, I have never seen the community working on their schools!
    3. Less than 50% of the school families support the KidFund. Why should I support a school that the majority of school families ignore!

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • HI EAS…
      I’d like to comment and clarify on your second point.
      First, to clarify…
      School Bond measures are very different that Parcel Tax measures. Typically, bonds are use to improve sites and have very specific quidelines for spending that must be followed. Parcel Tax measures allow the district to use the funds to pay for teachers, programs, materials. So, if there were any funds left from the past bond measure, it couldn’t be used for anything other than improving the physical sites.
      Now, onto my comment…
      I, too, am a White Oaks school neighbor, as well as a parent at the school. I’d like to say that we have a very active parent group which is now is in the process of doing some site beautification. The bond measure that you referred to was strictly for updating and renovation of the school buildings. Those bond dollars were spent exactly as they were intended, for the physical improvement of the schools. Given the passage of that bond, White Oaks was under construction for quite a few years. Frankly, it wasn’t practical or smart to improve landscaping and such, just to have it bulldozed by a construction crew the next week.
      Since renovations have been finished about 18 months ago, we have slowly been working to update our site. As I mentioned, this work is all done by parent volunteers since our district doesn’t have the resources to relandscape.
      I’m sorry that you preceive that the White Oaks school community doesn’t work on their school. And, I would truly beg to differ with you on that topic. As I type this, I’m feeling the discomfort of the blisters that I earned at our last site beautification day, which occured last weekend. We’ve already had three this year, with one more planned! We’re getting there, but it takes time…

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • It’s just $78, is that too much to save good teachers and few programs we need in our schools? Let’s come together in this and give a little to our schools and we will all benefit. I can save twice as much by skiping dinner at Town. In this economy let’s sacrifice a little to save our schools.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • Hi Rafi,

      If my totally unscientific poll is any indication, it looks as if more people are in favor of this Measure than they were on Measure S. We’ll know soon!

      Thanks for your comments,

      CG

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      • @ Rafi Re: skipping dinner at Town.

        From my understanding Town (and many of the stores on Laurel Street) are locally owned. You do understand that “skipping dinner at Town” impacts your neighbors, right? And losing small, locally owned businesses impacts your quality of life, right? And your property values, right?

        Maybe you were just trying to make a point, but to be honest it grates on me a bit. I chose to move here because of the schools and the small town feel. I could have saved $20 by skipping the Pancake Breakfast at Hometown Days too.

        Why do you presume to tell me how I should spend the little disposible income I have?

        GD Star Rating
        loading...
        GD Star Rating
        loading...
  • I know that there are many people that will vote for this Measure.
    I wish we could do something about the fairness of Prop 13 but I have heard it is well protected by a large lobby faction.
    Jan

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    • maybe the same lobby that thinks seniors should be exempt from paying $6.50 a month to support their local schools…?

      GD Star Rating
      loading...
      GD Star Rating
      loading...
  • Silly question – who is paying for all of the measure B stuff (signs, mailings, etc) and what does that cost?
    I understand the grass roots effort, but what else is going into this?
    Anyone know where to get this information?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • You can get more information at http://yesonbforschools.org/.

    Basically, campaigns are run (and funded) by individuals who have a passion for the cause. The school district does not (and legally can not)sponsor the effort and not one penny of public funds goes to support such a campaign.

    Essentially there is a large number of extemely motivated citizens who understand how critical it is that this measure passes, and the devasting loss to our children (and our property values) if the measure fails. Obviously these folks are putting in a lot of their own time and money to make sure it happens.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • There is clearly passion on both sides. However, I would be more willing to vote for this parcel tax if it were not so clearly weighted against those of us already paying the bulk of the property taxes.

    I also question the legality of putting a measure on the ballot, exempting certain people from having to pay if it passes, yet allows those same people to vote on it. In addition, wouldn’t seniors also benefit from the assumed property value increase/protection (at least $6.50 per month)? Why hasn’t a case been made to them to support this measure?

    No, instead the easy road is taken and blatantly buys their vote by exempting them from having to pay the tax.

    This is yet another inequity: seniors further profiting on the backs of the rest of the taxpayers. With all the talk about taxing our children and childrens’ children, is this any different? I am reminded twice a year how my parents chose to tax me by voting for Prop 13…it never seems to end.

    HOW IS THIS FAIR AND WHY ARE THESE PEOPLE BEING PROTECTED?

    At least on this blog, not one person has answered or addressed this question.

    I have yet to hear back from our city attorney’s office; I have asked twice already.

    I guess if those of us against this measure can be stalled long enough, the measure should pass?

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • I don’t have children in the SC school district, but I want to share my thoughts as a property owner in San Carlos. Historically, Seniors won’t vote for school taxes so if they voted in a large block in San Carlos Measure B would probably not pass. If it doesn’t pass, Seniors don’t have to pay the tax and if it does pass (with the exemption) they don’t have to pay the tax so either which way they have a way not to pay the tax. In one scenario, the schools are harmed, in the other with the exemption, the schools benefit, but in both cases the Seniors don’t pay.
    I am a practical person. No matter how much you complain about inequity (and I’m with you on that) it will not convince the Seniors to vote yes. I think that the case has already been made to them that it benefits their property values. It is better to exempt them and just get the money for the schools as they will otherwise vote it down and harm my real estate value. As to the legal issue – Exempting Seniors from a school tax is not unique to San Carlos or California. It is a widely used strategy. You will find this exemption across this state and country. The fact that Seniors are exempted in San Carlos is a little more striking this time because the dollar amount is so low and it is not seen as much of a hardship. In other cities similar to ours, the measures are usually for more money and so people tend to be more forgiving of the Senior exemption.

    I am pretty surprised that people don’t realize that they will get way more back then their investment of $78/yr when they go to sell their house. Personally, I would prefer to attract people to San Carlos who value education. Chuck has already pointed out that the area in SC that has the Redwood City school district has a lower price/sq ft then those in the SC school district. I would actually like to see a higher tax similar to Menlo Park, Palo Alto and Piedmont where the schools are stellar and people are willing to pay way more for their properties per sq foot to get into these districts. Great schools would create more demand for our real estate, not to mention making our neighbors kids more well rounded and educated.

    Michael – I think you were the one who brought up gay marriage and taxes. Although I am not gay and probably can’t understand all your hardship, I sympathize with your feeling of paying taxes, yet not feeling as if you are being treated equally. I hope you have found San Carlos to be a friendly welcoming city. I find it an open accepting place for the most part. If it is any comfort, I noticed that almost all of my neighbors who have yes on Measure B signs on their front lawns also had No on 8 signs up. They had them up long after the voting was over. I hope you will not equate Measure B with Prop 8.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • The exemption is simply a bribe to get fixed income folks to vote yes.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
  • If that’s how you see it, did that get your vote?

    If you were required to pay if it passed would you have voted against it?

    While on a fixed income, would you say that there is no room in your budget for $6.50 per month if you had to pay for it?

    I am just trying to get into the head of a senior citizen who clearly saw this opt-out exemption as a bribe for a yes vote. If that is the case, it really is unfair to the rest of us that voted against it, effectively canceling out our votes by a vast margin.

    It’s a form of politically ganging up on us to avoid trying to pass a measure based soley upon its merits.

    GD Star Rating
    loading...
    GD Star Rating
    loading...
Leave a comment