News

Menlo Park district decides to place parcel tax on March 2021 ballot

Date of ballot measure is still flexible, officials say

Menlo Park City School District officials chose not to place a measure to renew or replace an existing parcel tax on the November ballot during a March 12 meeting. 

The school board instead voted unanimously to place the measure on the March 2021 ballot, said Parke Treadway, the district's public information officer. District staff has said that the parcel tax is only a "temporary solution" to the district's financial woes.

Whitehurst/Mosher Campaign Strategy and Media, a political consulting firm the district hired to advise it on the parcel tax, studied the potential of various Election Day options – ranging from the November ballot to special elections as late as 2022 – to optimize voter support and minimize costs to the district. Consultant John Whitehurst presented his findings at the meeting.

The existing tax, Measure X, which passed in 2017 with an initial annual rate of $360 per parcel, expires in 2024. 

At a February meeting, trustees appeared to be leaning against putting a parcel tax measure before voters this fall, but they directed consultants to continue examining that date along with other possible election dates, and return to the board this month with a recommendation. 

What's local journalism worth to you?

Support Almanac Online for as little as $5/month.

Learn more

In January, Superintendent Burmeister warned board members that the Nov. 3 ballot will be crowded with tax-related state propositions, and it would be a "completely different election" than any the district has faced before. He and board members are unsure how a measure on the November ballot to amend Proposition 13, which governs property taxes in California, might affect the district's funding, making it difficult to accurately assess the need for a parcel tax.

The "split-roll" initiative would amend Proposition 13 to increase taxes on certain commercial and business properties, but not on homeowners. About 40% of the $12 billion it would generate would go to public schools, according to EdSource.org.

Treadway noted that the district would not need to file to put a measure on the March 2021 ballot until December, so there is still time to reassess the date. 

View a video of the meeting here.

-

Stay informed

Get daily headlines sent straight to your inbox.

Sign up

Follow AlmanacNews.com and The Almanac on Twitter @almanacnews, Facebook and on Instagram @almanacnews for breaking news, local events, photos, videos and more.

Menlo Park district decides to place parcel tax on March 2021 ballot

Date of ballot measure is still flexible, officials say

by / Almanac

Uploaded: Tue, Mar 31, 2020, 11:51 am

Menlo Park City School District officials chose not to place a measure to renew or replace an existing parcel tax on the November ballot during a March 12 meeting. 

The school board instead voted unanimously to place the measure on the March 2021 ballot, said Parke Treadway, the district's public information officer. District staff has said that the parcel tax is only a "temporary solution" to the district's financial woes.

Whitehurst/Mosher Campaign Strategy and Media, a political consulting firm the district hired to advise it on the parcel tax, studied the potential of various Election Day options – ranging from the November ballot to special elections as late as 2022 – to optimize voter support and minimize costs to the district. Consultant John Whitehurst presented his findings at the meeting.

The existing tax, Measure X, which passed in 2017 with an initial annual rate of $360 per parcel, expires in 2024. 

At a February meeting, trustees appeared to be leaning against putting a parcel tax measure before voters this fall, but they directed consultants to continue examining that date along with other possible election dates, and return to the board this month with a recommendation. 

In January, Superintendent Burmeister warned board members that the Nov. 3 ballot will be crowded with tax-related state propositions, and it would be a "completely different election" than any the district has faced before. He and board members are unsure how a measure on the November ballot to amend Proposition 13, which governs property taxes in California, might affect the district's funding, making it difficult to accurately assess the need for a parcel tax.

The "split-roll" initiative would amend Proposition 13 to increase taxes on certain commercial and business properties, but not on homeowners. About 40% of the $12 billion it would generate would go to public schools, according to EdSource.org.

Treadway noted that the district would not need to file to put a measure on the March 2021 ballot until December, so there is still time to reassess the date. 

View a video of the meeting here.

-

Comments

Money must grow on trees
Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 31, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Money must grow on trees, Menlo Park: Felton Gables
on Mar 31, 2020 at 2:30 pm
27 people like this

A pandemic is raging. Economy is tanking, and people are losing their jobs left and right.

Yet, MPCSD want us to give them more money to pay their fat pensions. Not to mention the 5% raises they gave knowing it would decrease reserves below legally required levels.

Don't forget, the school districts lobbied the governor not to give homeowners a reprieve on April 10 property taxes because they need the money more than you.

Just say NO.


Stop It!
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 31, 2020 at 2:30 pm
Stop It!, Menlo Park: other
on Mar 31, 2020 at 2:30 pm
22 people like this

Enough!

No more increase in tax revenue for schools.


Menlo Voter.
Menlo Park: other
on Mar 31, 2020 at 3:42 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
on Mar 31, 2020 at 3:42 pm
20 people like this

The school district needs to learn to live within its means just like the rest of us. NO MORE PARCEL TAXES


Enough
Menlo Park: other
on Apr 1, 2020 at 8:32 am
Enough, Menlo Park: other
on Apr 1, 2020 at 8:32 am
15 people like this

Having posted the data several times I will again reiterate that there is no reason the school should be seeking more money in the form of a parcel tax. Property tax revenue, which is where the school gets the vast majority of its money, is up 80% in Atherton and Menlo Park combined. That's over about the last 8 years. During that same time enrollment is up less than 10%. How can they justify a parcel tax on top of the vast amount of money that they're already getting from the increased property taxes in the area.

It points out that they are especially tone-deaf to be considering this at a time when the stock market has just Tanked, people are out of jobs in huge numbers and are focusing on staying safe and healthy. I'm sure that they're looking at March because they know the turnout in November would be way too high. And when a lot of people vote they don't vote for parcel taxes. The only chance the parcel tax has is to have low voter turnout where the school district pushes those who would vote Yes to get out and vote well try and get discouraged or not inform the people who would be opposed to it good.


new guy
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 1, 2020 at 10:57 am
new guy, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 1, 2020 at 10:57 am
11 people like this

Sorry, but this will fail.

This is why:

More, if not most people will switch to mail-in ballots (we might even be forced to), and historically small turnout elections where the strategy used as stated above (which was used for the last parcel tax) will no longer have the needed effect of getting to 2/3 yes votes anymore. Also, my guess (to be honest: I actually was told this info from an insider) is that the majority of yes votes last time was from renters. With the coming massive downturn, there will be less renters. The sooner MP schools get used to the reality the no more parcel taxes are coming the better.

Think about it this way. Just a few days ago (less than 20), things were the best they probably ever could have been, high stock prices, high GDP, lowest unemployment, people spending millions on houses......... and they still did not have enough money. Now what? How is that compensation philosophy coming now???


Wendy
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 1, 2020 at 1:09 pm
Wendy, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 1, 2020 at 1:09 pm
13 people like this

Waste of money to even put it on the ballot.


Hey MPAEF
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 1, 2020 at 1:27 pm
Hey MPAEF, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 1, 2020 at 1:27 pm
11 people like this

Let me be clear. We are now experiencing deferred raises, lay offs, and pay cuts. Small businesses are already seeing their invoices unpaid. I am in one of the above categories and know people experiencing all of the above. If MPCSD puts any tax measure on any ballot, my response will be to set our subsequent MPAEF donations to zero in perpetuity.


Hey MPAEF
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 1, 2020 at 2:13 pm
Hey MPAEF, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 1, 2020 at 2:13 pm
11 people like this

I’m going to double down on the above commitment to permanently stop donating to MPAEF. I will no longer be donating to MPAEF if I don’t see, in very short order, the suspension of all planned salary scale increases for all staff, both certificated and non-certificated, inclusive of the district Superintendent. I encourage other district parents and donors to join me in this pledge.


Steve_J
another community
on Apr 2, 2020 at 7:39 am
Steve_J, another community
on Apr 2, 2020 at 7:39 am
8 people like this

Good luck with this one, a looser for sure.


PV
Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 2, 2020 at 8:09 am
PV, Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Apr 2, 2020 at 8:09 am
9 people like this

Portola Valley school district Measure P just failed. Measure P is a parcel tax renewal. The vote occurred before the coronavirus caused the current major economic disruption.

If a renewal can't win locally during good economic times, how is a Menlo Park parcel tax increase going to succeed during rougher economic circumstances?


Menlo Voter.
Menlo Park: other
on Apr 2, 2020 at 9:39 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
on Apr 2, 2020 at 9:39 pm
3 people like this

" How can they justify a parcel tax on top of the vast amount of money that they're already getting from the increased property taxes in the area."

If they were honest about it they would tell us it is because the Calsters system is grossly underfunded and they have been coming back to the schools for higher contributions toward the retirement system. That is why the district needs more money even though their tax income has gone up.

Of course, the fact is they gave staff raises which exacerbates the need for added contributions to the retirement system. But, that's an inconvenient fact. They'd rather pretend "it's for the kids". When, in fact, its for Calsters and to cover the boards misfeasance in granting raises in the first place. It was no secret that higher contributions to Calsters were coming when the board granted those raises.


Bob
Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 2, 2020 at 9:56 pm
Bob, Menlo Park: Downtown
on Apr 2, 2020 at 9:56 pm
7 people like this

We are 18 months away from the 2021 election. I'm so glad that the Board made its decision while we're in the midst of a crisis and focused on a parcel tax for next year's election.

This reflects on how smart the Board is. It's a bad decision now and will be next year too. No new taxes.


Rini
Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 3, 2020 at 9:16 am
Rini, Menlo Park: The Willows
on Apr 3, 2020 at 9:16 am
4 people like this

About 40% of the $12 Billion dollars would go the schools!! Where does the 60% go!! Vote no regardless of when they put it on the ballot, and it seems they chose a time when a lot of people don’t vote.


Jack Hickey
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 4, 2020 at 12:43 pm
Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 4, 2020 at 12:43 pm
2 people like this

I just watched the first 34 minutes of the meeting. The board authorized staff to prepare for a March election. Discussion leading up to this decision included a comment by the campaign consultant regarding recruitment of volunteers.

IMHO, all district monies and staff time spent preparing for the March Election are campaign expenditures reportable to the FPPC. And, likely constitute felony misappropriation of public funds. See: Web Link

My suggestion to MPCSD, and all other school districts, is that they place a parcel tax on the ballot which allows ALL property-owners to claim exemptions, while also providing an option to pay more in incremental amounts, e.g. 2x, 5x, etc. This could easily be accommodated by the Controllers Office which registers exemptions. This would eliminate the need for campaign expenditures by education foundations such as MPAEF.

Quit worrying about your neighbor's contribution to the schools. Put YOUR money where your mouth is!


Menlo Voter.
Menlo Park: other
on Apr 4, 2020 at 2:33 pm
Menlo Voter., Menlo Park: other
on Apr 4, 2020 at 2:33 pm
2 people like this

"Where does the 60% go?"

Toward pensions.


Jack Hickey
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 4, 2020 at 3:51 pm
Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 4, 2020 at 3:51 pm
2 people like this

The 60% goes to the County, Fire Districts, Cities, etc. The $12 Billion is the increase in ad valorem taxes which would result from a split roll.


Jack Hickey
Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 4, 2020 at 10:34 pm
Jack Hickey, Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Apr 4, 2020 at 10:34 pm
1 person likes this

From Attorney General Opinion No. 04-211
Web Link

2. In preparation for submitting a bond measure to the electorate for approval,
a community college district may not use district funds to hire a consultant to develop and implement a strategy for building the broadest possible coalition in support of the measure and the financial support for a campaign by, for example, assisting the district chancellor in scheduling meetings with civic leaders and potential campaign contributors in order to gauge their support for the bond measure if the purpose or effect of such actions serves to develop a campaign to promote approval of the bond measure by the electorate.


Don't miss out on the discussion!
Sign up to be notified of new comments on this topic.

Post a comment

Posting an item on Town Square is simple and requires no registration. Just complete this form and hit "submit" and your topic will appear online. Please be respectful and truthful in your postings so Town Square will continue to be a thoughtful gathering place for sharing community information and opinion. All postings are subject to our TERMS OF USE, and may be deleted if deemed inappropriate by our staff.

We prefer that you use your real name, but you may use any "member" name you wish.

Not sure?