Tonight: Menlo Park school board calls special meeting on parcel tax

District said it's considering increasing a parcel tax that expires in 2017

A possible parcel tax election is the subject of a special meeting of the governing board of the Menlo Park City School District on Thursday, Jan. 21. The meeting starts at 7:30 p.m. in the district's TERC building at 181 Encinal Ave. in Atherton.

A portion of the district's current parcel tax expires in 2017, and the board is scheduled to decide on Feb. 2 if it wants to put a parcel tax measure on a special May ballot.

Property owners in the district now pay four separate parcel taxes – three that are permanent and one will expire at the end of June 2017. All four taxes can rise each year by the amount of any increase in the Bay Area Consumer Price Index.

The total for all four parcel taxes, which appear as one on tax bills, is $851.60 for the 2015-16 tax year. The parcel tax due to expire is currently $201.38.

The district has previously said it is considering upping that to $550, which would make the annual parcel tax total about $1,053 per property.

Those 65 and older can apply for an exemption from the tax, but must do so each year.

The district, like the Las Lomitas, Woodside and Portola Valley districts, is funded almost entirely from local sources including property taxes, parcel taxes and donations. Such schools used to be called "basic aid" districts but are now labeled "community funded."

Community funded districts do not get more money when they get more students. In the Menlo Park district, enrollment has grown 38 percent since 2005, when it had 2,133 students. This year the district has 2,940 students. A consultant recently projected that the district will have 3,151 students in 2020 and 3,280 in 2025.

According to a presentation at an earlier meeting, the district gets only 8 percent of its budget from state and federal funding, 9 percent from donations and 16 percent from the parcel tax. Most of the rest comes from property taxes.

Statistics from the California Department of Education show that the Menlo Park district spends less per student than many other local districts including Woodside, Portola Valley, Las Lomitas and Palo Alto Unified.

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21 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 20, 2016 at 12:24 pm

The majority of school district funds come from property taxes. Property values have appreciated substantially in the last couple of years (= more revenue for city).

Parcel taxes disproportionately place the burden on single family property owners, while exempting seniors, people who vote the most.

We already pay more than other districts. Here are school district parcel taxes for other districts from 2015 property tax bills:

Burlingame $256
Foster City $304.58
Menlo Park $851.56
Las Lomitas $361
Hillsborough $630.20
Palo Alto $758
Woodside $281.52
Portola Valley $581
San Carlos $246.60

And they want to increase it to >1000 dollars. They need to learn to balance the budget instead of asking for more money all the time. We're not all made of money.

22 people like this
Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 20, 2016 at 4:56 pm

Quit asking us for money. As Ju has shown we pay more already then other cities. Learn to balance your budget and quit coming to the residents when you need more money. The time has come to say NO NO NO MORE TAXES

5 people like this
Posted by Chris
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle
on Jan 21, 2016 at 2:30 pm

Seniors are not automatically exempt from these taxes. They have to apply to the school district every year for the exemption. Older people on fixed incomes struggle to pay all the taxes already implemented, which increase every year. Don't blame seniors. Blame the greedy school district which already gets funds from the Foundation, these bond taxes, state taxes, the lottery .... and it still isn't enough?

5 people like this
Posted by Noah Mohr
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 21, 2016 at 3:20 pm

While it's true that our school district doesn't get extra dollars for each additional student, the reality is that property taxes (our school's primary source of funding) are generally directly tied to student enrollment: an increase in the number of students in our school district usually implies increased demand for housing. That demand fuels more home sales and remodels. With each home sale or remodel, the property tax amount jumps upward (beyond the Prop 13 norm). So it's disingenuous if the school district tries to argue that they need more parcel taxes to cover the increased student population.

Yes, our school district is one of the best. And yes, our schools do help our community in a number of ways ranging from property values to safer neighborhoods. But those same attributes already feed into the property tax assessment values. That should be enough....

8 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 21, 2016 at 3:59 pm

Nobody is blaming seniors. Just pointing out how unfair parcel taxes are. The reason why almost every school parcel tax allows senior exemptions is to make it easier to pass. Seniors have the highest voter turnout among all age groups. So they are more likely to vote for it if they know they can opt out. Of course, they don’t make the process easy, since exemptions must be applied for annually. They know that some seniors will forget to apply. It also unfairly burdens poorer homeowners, since all parcels pay the same amount.

In addition, parcel taxes are NOT DEDUCTIBLE against federal and state income taxes (though most homeowners still deduct their entire property tax bill).
Web Link
Web Link

That “only $1.50 a day” is costing you more than you think.

Parcel taxes aside, the problem is a free spending MPCSD with a budget that keeps growing exponentially compared to enrollment numbers. They have a projected deficit of >$4 million by 2017/18 (in a boom economy and increasing revenues). We need to stop this behavior by not giving them any more money.

6 people like this
Posted by JU
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 21, 2016 at 4:24 pm

Just to note, FTB is not enforcing non deductibility of parcel taxes due to different interpretation by the IRS. But if they decide to "reinterpret" the rules again, we could all owe a lot more taxes.

4 people like this
Posted by No More Taxes
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 21, 2016 at 5:30 pm

I will donate money to any candidate that opposes raising my taxes. In other words any board member that votes for more taxes, I will donate to any of your opponents.

Read my lips No New Taxes.

Has anyone seen the Hillview campus, It's superior to Menlo. I know, I sent my kids to both.

I can afford it and still say No, There are lots of people who can't afford it.

JC, quit spending our money.

2 people like this
Posted by no regressive tax
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 22, 2016 at 2:06 pm

Parcel taxes are regressive taxes. Homeowners of smaller properties would be hurt disproportionately more than others. So would seniors who are usually on fixed incomes; remember they have paid throughout their lives in support of our school systems. I have no problems allowing exemptions for them.

What about a tax on commercial properties, and not a regressive one that would harm smaller businesses. Commercial properties that turn over infrequently have not paid their fair sure to educating our children, their current and future workforce.

2 people like this
Posted by Landlord
a resident of Menlo Park: Belle Haven
on Jan 22, 2016 at 2:51 pm

This is why we have 20 trillion dollars in debt they just cant stop spending

Ithe next time landlords renegotiate a new lease they will account for new expenses
$1000 a year is a lot of money some of us landlords have tried to not raise rents but will need to pass it on


2 people like this
Posted by resident
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 26, 2016 at 11:24 pm

Thank you Ju for providing so much intelligent information.

Vote No on new taxes.

Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Atherton: West of Alameda

on Sep 26, 2017 at 7:08 am

Due to repeated violations of our Terms of Use, comments from this poster are automatically removed. Why?

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

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