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Another parcel tax? Not quite…

By Jonathan Morales
Thursday, December 10th, 2009 at 3:01 pm in Lafayette, Lamorinda, Moraga, Orinda, Schools.

Those who stayed until the end of the Acalanes school board may have been surprised to hear board members discuss how some in the community are talking about another parcel tax. Voters in the district of course just approved a parcel tax in November — a continuation of the old one but without a sunset date.

But like all districts, Acalanes is facing devastating budget cuts, and school officials made no qualms about saying the parcel tax extension was not a cure-all. Last night they got more grim news: nearly $5 million in cuts, and about 50 lost jobs, over the next two years or so.

Given that, perhaps it’s no surprise that some people have started thinking about another parcel tax, one that would be lower than the current one and short term, designed to help the district weather the current storm.

But that doesn’t mean it’s completely on the table yet. Superintendent John Stockton told me today that such an idea is “very speculative” and “would only happen if there’s a huge community movement.” He did say, however, that it’s not unusual for a school district to have multiple parcel taxes.

There are, of course, worries about spending between $300,000-$600,000 in this economic climate for an election they may not win. Voters in the district are typically very supportive of schools, but there could be voter fatigue from having a parcel tax vote just a month ago, and of course a parcel tax requires a two-thirds’ majority, something that’s difficult to get.

The district’s current $189 yearly parcel tax received nearly 75 percent of the vote in November.

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