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Latest AUSD Measure E Campaign Mailer Contradicts Ballot Measure Language About Exemptions for Seniors and SSI Recipients

A campaign mailer arriving in Alameda mailboxes today says that “If Measure E is passed by Alameda voters, and you apply for the parcel tax exemption, you will be exempted for eight years, with no re-application necessary until 2019.” But that conflicts with the language of the ballot measure which says that an exemption is good for one assessment year only.

The actual language of the ballot measure says that “exemptions must be renewed annually with the District”:

With respect to matters specific to the levy of the special tax, including the Senior Citizen and SSI Exemptions, owners must submit applications to the District in the manner and at the time set forth in procedures established by the District. Application forms shall be available from the Office of the Chief Financial Officer. Any one application from a qualified applicant for an exemption will provide an exemption for the parcel for that assessment year only, and exemptions must be renewed annually with the District.

(emphasis added.)

We have asked AUSD representatives to explain this and await a response.

AUSD March 2010 Parcel Tax Ballot

9 comments to Latest AUSD Measure E Campaign Mailer Contradicts Ballot Measure Language About Exemptions for Seniors and SSI Recipients

  • Anonymous

    “If Measure E is passed by Alameda voters, and you apply for the parcel tax exemption, you will be exempted for eight years, with no re-application necessary until 2019.”

    Does this mean you only have to apply for the exemption, or do you have to be found to be eligible for the exemption? If one only has to go through the process of applying to become exempt, don’t you think everyone will apply?

    If not, somebody should sue the people who put out this literature.

  • One must be eligible for the exemption. A header on the mailer says “Attention Seniors and SSI Recipients”

    More disturbing is that the mailer conflicts with the ballot language – and AUSD has not yet responded to a request to explain.

  • Anonymous

    Ah, regressive taxation. So anyone age 65+ can claim an exemption, regardless of income? I understand the back-room explanation for including this exemption (higher rates of older adults vote), but what’s the front-room explanation?

  • At the March 15th meeting wherein the approved the ballot resolution, they simply said that they need the senior votes.

  • Smart voter

    There bribing the seniors, pure and simple. I am sure the seniors are smart enough to figure this out. The way I read it, either you vote for it or you will have to apply every year for the exemption.

  • I had an op-ed piece published in the Alameda Sun about all this called “Representation Without Taxation,” and explained that this is just as bad as its reverse, which we all learned about in our history classes. It encourages people to vote Yes who won’t have to bear the burden. Cynical, right? And not exactly a model of democracy for the school kids of Alameda.

    Moreover, in the past, after Measures A&H, many SSI folks found they didn’t qualify with the AUSD requirements, which are more narrow than SS. Also, many seniors failed to qualify for the exemptions, because they have to sign up at AUSD Central, and the window to do so is very short and unadvertised, just a short notice in the classifieds in very small print.

    So, this whole Senior/SSI exemption thing is a ploy that is both cynical and dishonest, and has been used repeatedly by AUSD and parcel tax proponents. I’m a senior who doesn’t own property, also am disabled, but have already voted “NO!” on E on principle. Because Measure E is all about the unions and the teachers, not the kids, and as a former teacher, I find tenure and seniority rules despicable.

    D’Green

  • Anonymous

    Dennis: I found your op-ed piece online. Well said. Unfortunately, I think “representation without taxation” is endemic to democracy (e.g. cigarette taxes). Alexis de Tocqueville observed this almost 200 years ago. But usually there’s a front-room rationalization (e.g. cigarettes increase healthcare costs for everyone). I get that many people age 65+ live on a modest income. But (as you mention) so do many younger adults. Like me. And what prevents a wealthy senior with a seven-figure home from getting an exemption? I find that hard to swallow.

  • I also have a piece in the wings — which will probably appear on Action Alameda News rather than either of the print newspapers, which are filled disproportionately with Pro-E propaganda, a letter writing campaign pushed by APlus — exploring the whole subject of how regressive parcel taxes are. So are sales taxes, but as Anonymous says, they have a front-room rationalization, that the affluent buy more goods and eventually pay much higher sales taxes than the poor, who spend a lot of their money on food, which is not taxed, etc. But think about parcel taxes. I have. News at eleven.

  • Late last week, AUSD Superintendent Kirsten Vital explained that AUSD is changing the procedure regarding the exemptions: “Each year, the District will verify that the exemption is still valid by using publicly available information as to property ownership and other relevant data. The District will then inform Seniors as to whether the exemption is renewed for the following year.”

    She asserts that this is consistent with the ballot language, and would not require additional headcount at AUSD to do this work.

    As of today, she has not responded to questions about how much it will cost AUSD to do this (asked this twice) and why AUSD has not done this in the past for Measure A or H. (Seniors often forget to re-apply for their exemption and end up paying anyway.)

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