School Parcel Tax Renewal Placed on February Ballot

With the election for the renewal of one of the San Marino Unified School District’s parcel taxes officially set, the onus is now on community members to promote — or discourage — bringing it back for another six years.
Parents of SMUSD students traditionally spearhead cam-paigns for tax renewals and other measures, with school officials and Board of Education members limited to discussing information about the ballot item without weighing in on its merits. Even the campaigners must volunteer entirely on their own.
“It’s not actually something the board appoints,” explained Julie Boucher, the district’s assistant superintendent of business services, at last week’s meeting. “It’s something formed by the community, and they come forward to the board and say, ‘We’re going to lead the campaign.’ Once the board adopts the resolution, the board is very limited in what it can do.”
Those interested would operate through an already registered organization, Citizens for San Marino, which has nonprofit status.
Voters living inside SMUSD’s jurisdiction, which extends in some places beyond San Marino city limits into unincorporated areas or neighboring cities, will decide on Feb. 26 whether to renew the parcel tax, which is set to expire June 30. The renewal would maintain the current rate of $366 annually for each parcel in the district. That amount would be open to adjustment based on inflation beginning with the 2020-21 fiscal year.
Potential exemptions from the tax include contiguous parcels owned by the same person, being 65 or older, Social Security income and Social Security disability insurance income.
First levied in 1991, this parcel tax — one of two for SMUSD — generates around $1.6 million annually and is used to fund 14 mostly full-time teaching and support staff positions at most of SMUSD’s schools. Voters last renewed the tax in 2013.

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