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Proposed 2015 Measure A Parcel Tax

The current parcel tax expires after the end of the 2015-16 fiscal year. To preserve locally controlled funding tha cannot be taken away by the State, the Board of Education voted unanimously on January 27 to place Measure A, a parcel tax renewal measure, on the ballot this spring. Based on this decision the District mailed a notice to voters.

Proposed 2015 Parcel Tax Resolution | PAUSD Notice to Voters

Quality Public Education Preservation Act of 2015
“To preserve excellence in academic programs, including science, engineering, math, reading, writing, arts, and music with local funding that cannot be taken by the state; reduce class sizes; attract and retain qualified teachers; and advance health, well-being, and equitable opportunities for every student, shall the Palo Alto Unified School District renew its expiring parcel tax for six years, increase the rate by $120, and continue exemptions for seniors, annual two percent escalation adjustments, and independent oversight?”  Said qualified special parcel tax would renew, extend, and replace the qualified special parcel tax approved by the voters of the District on May 4, 2010, as Measure A.

To provide local revenue that cannot be taken by the State and to maintain exceptional public education in our schools, the Palo Alto Unified School District proposes to renew, extend, and replace its expiring qualified special parcel tax for a period of 6 years, beginning July 1, 2015, at the rate of $758 per year on each assessor’s parcel located within the School District, with an optional exemption annually available, upon application, for senior citizens, and an annual two percent increase (rounded to the nearest dollar) beginning with the 2016-17 fiscal year to account for increasing student enrollment and the rising cost of providing programs, and to implement accountability measures in connection with the special parcel tax to provide oversight and accountability to ensure that funds are used to:

  • Preserve excellence in core academic programs including advanced science, math, and reading and writing;
  • Protect class sizes by recruiting teachers to meet the demands of growing student enrollment;
  • Provide equitable opportunities and access for all students to excel at the highest levels;
  • Continue teacher professional development by providing training programs and activities that support high quality teaching and keep teachers up-to-date on the latest advancements in their fields;
  • Help protect critical high school electives, including arts, music, computer science,and social sciences that provide a well-rounded education, challenge students, and allow students to be highly competitive for colleges and university admissions, and that provide career vocational education to prepare students for the workforce;
  • Accommodate growing student enrollment throughout the District;
  • Provide staff and programming to advance the physical, social, emotional and mental health and well-being of all students;
  • Provide innovative programming and pathways in science, engineering, technology and math (STEM) to prepare students for college and 21st Century careers;
  • Protect teaching and learning programs from budget cuts caused by 10 million dollars per year in reduced funding and new cost mandates;
  • Expand independent research programs allowing local students to workwith mentors from universities, laboratories, medical facilities, cutting edge businesses, and others that are available in Silicon Valley;
  • Keep elementary school libraries open and fully staffed;
  • Provide a stable local funding source that cannot be taken away by the State for other school districts; and
  • Protect the taxpayers’ investment in education and ensure District accountability by providing for oversight and independent financial audits of revenues and expenditures.

The Board of Education will utilize parcel tax proceeds for the purposes listed above, unless the Board of Education determines in any given year that changes in student population, fiscal constraints, or other changes in state or federal funding or requirements make doing so infeasible or inadvisable. In any event, the Board of Education will not fund any program or purpose other than those listed above from the proceeds of the special parcel taxes.

Subject to two thirds approval of the voters, the renewed and extended replacement parcel tax shall become effective as of July 1, 2015 and be collected by the Santa Clara County Tax Collector at the same time as and along with, and shall be subject to the same penalties as general ad valorem property taxes collected by said tax collector. The tax and penalty shall bear interest at the same rate as the rate for unpaid ad valorem property taxes until paid. Any tax levied shall become a lien upon the properties against which taxes are assessed and collectible as herein provided.

With respect to all general property tax matters within its jurisdiction, the Santa Clara County Tax Assessor or other appropriate County tax official (“County”) shall make all final determinations of tax exemption or relief for any reason, and that decision shall be final and binding. With respect to matters specific to the levy of the special parcel tax, including the Senior Citizen Exemption as allowed below, the decisions of the District shall be final and binding. The procedures described herein, and any additional procedures established by the Board of Education, shall be the exclusive claims procedure for claimants seeking an exemption, refund, reduction, or re-computation of the special parcel tax. Whether any particular claim is to be resolved by the District or by the County shall be determined by the District, in coordination with the County as necessary.

The District’s Board of Education may adopt such additional or supplemental procedures as it deems necessary or convenient for the administration of the special parcel tax.

Optional Exemption Available
An optional exemption from the special parcel tax will be made available annually to each individual in the District who will attain 65 years of age prior to July 1 of the tax year or to those who qualify for Supplemental Security Income (SSI), and who owns a beneficial interest in the parcel, and who uses that parcel as his or her principal place of residence, and who applies to the School District on or before July 1, 2015, or July 1 of any succeeding tax year.  Any application for such exemption must be renewed annually.

The District shall annually provide to the County Tax Collector or other appropriate County tax official a list of parcels that the District has approved for a Senior Citizen or SSI Exemption.

Accountability Measures
In accordance with the requirements of California Government Code sections 50075.1 and 50075.3, the following accountability measures, among others, shall apply to the special parcel taxes levied in accordance with this Measure: (a) the specific purposes of the special parcel tax shall be those purposes identified above; (b) the proceeds of the special parcel tax shall be applied only to those specific purposes identified above; (c) a separate, special account shall be created into which the proceeds of the special parcel taxes must be deposited; and (d) an annual written report shall be made to the Board of Education of the District showing (i) the amount of funds collected and expended from the proceeds of the special  taxes and (ii) the status of any projects,  programs, or purposes required or authorized to be funded from the proceeds of the special  taxes, as identified above.

In addition to the accountability measures required by State law, an independent Community Oversight Committee shall be appointed by the Board of Education to advise the Board on the expenditures funded by the measure in order to helpensure that said funds are spent for the purposes approved by the voters.  The Community Oversight Committee will monitor the expenditures of these funds by the District and will report on an annual basis to the Board and community on how these funds have been spent.

Protection of funding

Current law forbids any decrease in State or Federal funding to the District because of the District’s adoption of a parcel tax. However, if any such funds are reduced because of the adoption of this parcel tax, then the amount of the special parcel taxes will be reduced annually as necessary in order to restore such State or Federal funding. 

Effect on Measure A

The qualified special parcel tax authorized hereunder renews, extends, and replaces the qualified special parcel tax approved by the voters of the District on May 4, 2010 as Measure A. If the ballot measure proposed herein is approved by two thirds of the voters casting ballots on the measure, then effective July 1, 2015 the qualified special parcel tax so authorized will entirely supersede and replace the qualified special parcel tax authorized by Measure A. If this measure is not so approved, then the qualified special parcel tax approved by Measure A will continue in effect only until June 30, 2016, at which time that qualified special parcel tax and Measure A will cease to be in effect, in accordance with the terms of Measure A.

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Revised March 2010