“Measure A,” March 8th, 2011
What is the Parcel Tax?
Measure A is a proposed parcel tax levied by the Alameda Unified School District. It would replace previous school district parcel taxes, Measures A and H, and run for 7 years. It would tax property owners $0.32 (thirty-two cents) per square foot of building improvements on their land. For example, a homeowner with a 2,000 square foot house would pay $640/year, or roughly twice the combined current expense of Measures A and H.
Large property owners would have their tax capped at $7,999/year, meaning that some large property owners could pay as little as a penny or two per square foot. Parcels without building improvements would be charged a minimum of $299/year. There will be a special election on March 8, 2011 to decide if the tax will go into effect.
Our Editorial Stance
Action Alameda News recommends that you vote “no” on the tax, for the following reasons:
- The regressive nature of the $7,999 cap, which means that large shopping centers, which generate tens of millions of dollars in revenue each year, would pay as little as a penny or two per square foot while homeowners and local small business owners would pay 32 times as much.
- For-profit businesses that lease space from the City of Alameda, such as the Alameda Theater, are exempt from paying the tax.
- For-profit businesses at Alameda Point, such as The Bladium, are exempt from paying the tax, because they are on federal land.
- AUSD has ignored suggestions on how they might apply the tax to businesses like the Alameda Theater and The Bladium.
- The “oversight board” is a toothless body with no real power to ensure that the money raised is spent in accordance with voter wishes.
- The proposed measure exempts religious schools from paying the tax even as they divert students – and state money – from our public school system.
- The language of the proposed measure that defines how the funds are to be spent is so loose as to allow the Board of Trustees to change the allocations at whim.
- The amount of money allocated to charter schools is not in line with the charter school student population in Alameda.
- $0.32/square foot is simply too high for many property owners in this economic climate.
Alameda Unified School District Detailed Proposal
Alameda Unified School District Administrator and Teacher Salaries
The document below is an excerpt from a revised version of a September 21, 2010 presentation provided by the Alameda Unified School District. It provides details on salaries and benefits for AUSD staff.
Competing Parcel Tax Proposals
Over the summer, both the Alameda Unified School District, and Alamedans for Fair Taxation, a local business group, have brought forth proposed structures for a new parcel tax to replace Measures A and H, which expire in 2012. The District intends to put a measure on the ballot in March of 2011.
Alamedans for Fair Taxation has proposed a “per parcel square foot” based tax, premised on some 200 million square feet of taxable area in Alameda. (AUSD’s “per parcel square foot” based tax is based on just over 100 million square feet of taxable area.) AFT has produced a parcel database consisting of 19,984 parcel records for Alameda, which totals 154 million square feet. AFT believes that by adding in City-owned land rented to businesses that could be taxed, and tens of millions of feet at Alameda Point, leased to businesses that could be taxed, the figure could top 200 million square feet.
Alamedans for Fair Taxation (AFT)
o A tax rate at a single, flat rate, based on the size (in square feet) of the parcel. For example, if your lot was 5,000 square feet, at a rate of 4 cents per square foot, you would pay $200/year. If you owned a 1,000 sq ft condo, at 4 cents per square foot, you would pay $40/year. (AFT has also proposed a second alternative structure, based on a suggested rate of two cents per square foot of the land in a parcel, and six cents per square foot on building improvements.)
o Tax rate of 1 to 5 cents/sq foot of land in each parcel.
o Roughly 200 mil. sq ft of land in Alameda, at a rate of 5 cents/sq ft, would generate $10 mil. per year
o No cap on the tax. A cap means that some property owners pay a lower rate than others. That’s unfair.
o An exemption for low-income people only – no exemption for seniors. Seniors with the ability to pay should pay their fair share.
“Low income” would be determined by the federal HUD income limits, calculated annually by household size.
o No exemption for private religious schools that divert students from AUSD schools, and reduce the amount of State funding for AUSD.
o Tax the businesses that rent tax-free City-owned property through the principle of “possessory interest.” All businesses in Alameda should pay their share.
o Tax the businesses that rent tax-free Navy-owned property at Alameda Point through the principle of “possessory interest.”
o A 4 year maximum duration.
o A ‘giveback’ clause to return money to taxpayers if and when state funding returns to normal levels.