School Leaders Take Action to Put Parcel Tax on Ballot

The La Cañada Unified School District Governing Board voted 4-0 this week to place a parcel tax measure on the March 3 ballot in hopes of continuing what district leaders say is a vital source of revenue.
Measure LC would need two-thirds voter approval to pass and would pay for district programs, including teacher positions. The tax would be a $450 per parcel assessment that would generate approximately $2,686,500 per year, according to a district report. A property’s assessed value would be adjusted annually by the Consumer Price Index, not to exceed 3% a year.
The only people in the audience during Monday’s special meeting — which board member Kaitzer Puglia was unable to attend — were the two co-chairs of a new committee that will promote the tax measure, and Charles Heath of consultant group Terris Barnes Walters Boigon Heath Inc.
LCUSD Superintendent Wendy Sinnette said the measure, which will be shown to county officials before being placed on the ballot, is needed because the current parcel tax expires in 2021. It has been bringing in about $2.5 million annually for district programs, she said.
“It’s such an integral part of our budget,” said Sinnette, adding that more than 20 positions — certificated teacher and counselor posts and classified staff jobs — would be eliminated from the district if the tax isn’t renewed. “The impact this community would feel from those reductions in TK-12 would be felt in every corner of our schools.”
According to Los Angeles County records, LCUSD boundaries include approximately 6,872 parcels — 6,479 residential and 393 nonresidential — a district report said. But some parcels, such as those owned by the government, are exempt from taxation, and seniors also can be granted exemptions.
Heath told the board that the county registrar had in the past assigned the name Measure LC to the tax proposal and that the name would be requested again after successful campaigns in 2009 and 2014.
“It’s known as Measure LC in the community, so we might as well,” Heath said.
After the Governing Board’s approval of the proposed measure, Heath said future steps include getting it to the county superintendent of schools for a signature and then to the county registrar and Board of Supervisors to be placed on the ballot. He said the plan was to get the information to the superintendent by Wednesday, Dec. 4, and to the registrar by Friday, Dec. 6. The superintendent’s office confirmed Wednesday that it received the information.
Matthew Weber, a co-chair of the new Measure LC committee and member of the La Cañada Flintridge Educational Foundation executive committee, said after the meeting he understood the importance of the effort. The foundation raises money for the district and makes direct contributions annually to benefit youths in LCF schools.
“Over the years, I’ve realized how hard it is to raise $2 million,” Weber said. “As I think about $2.5 million potentially going away and what the alternative sources would be … it’s just not there. It is a necessity.”
Governing Board member Dan Jeffries said during the meeting that he didn’t believe the district would get much more funding from Sacramento.
“Our community has supported our schools in the past and hopefully they will continue to,” Jeffries said.
Sinnette said it was “critical” to figure inflation into the parcel tax.
“So we retain our purchasing power over time, so we can continue to provide all those courses and maintain the level of the teacher quality and the class sizes we do,” Sinnette said.
Josh Epstein, also a co-chair of the Measure LC committee, said he was working behind the scenes until the measure is approved for the ballot.
“I’m excited to start because it’s a pretty short campaign,” Epstein said after the meeting, referring to the March 3 date. “We’ve got a lot of work to do to make sure everybody knows it’s coming and understands what it means for the schools and for the district.”
Measure LCF, a $149 million general obligation bond that voters approved in 2017, pays for facilities.
At a special board meeting in August, consultants hired by the district said their survey showed there was about 73% support for extending the tax measure at its current rate.
Now that it has approved the measure, the board will back away from active advocacy and the proposed tax renewal will be advanced by the community action campaign.

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