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.