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Voting starts Feb. 6 on Menlo Park school district parcel tax

Original post made on Jan 25, 2017

Voting by mail or in person at voting centers starts Monday, Feb. 6, on a ballot measure asking Menlo Park City School District voters to approve a $360 annual parcel tax that would expire after seven years.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Wednesday, January 25, 2017, 6:57 PM

Comments (40)

Posted by whatever
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Jan 25, 2017 at 10:15 pm

Brilliant officials, go to San Mateo city if you want to vote in person for an election only impacting MP and Atherton voters.
Also is there an exemption for seniors?


Posted by MPCSD Parent2
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 11:28 am

Yes there is exemption for seniors.
I believe for cost reasons election officials require that voting for smaller/off-year elections take place at San Mateo County offices -- during a 1-month period and in addition to allowing mail-in ballots.


Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 26, 2017 at 1:00 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Just to make sure it is clear, in-person voting on election day will take place in the usual neighborhood polling places within the district. The voting center is just for those who wish to vote early in person.
And the parcel tax does offer an exemption for those 65 and older who request it.


Posted by Clarifying question
a resident of Atherton: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 1:41 pm

If I want to vote early and get my senior exemption can I just send my ballot in the mail as soon as I get it? I don't want to go to San Mateo but want to be sure I can get my exemption.


Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 26, 2017 at 1:47 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

If you either are a permanent vote-by-mail voter or you ask for a vote-by-mail (formerly known as "absentee") ballot for this election, you can mail it back as soon as you get it.


Posted by Jennifer Bestor
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 26, 2017 at 2:19 pm

Over the past 20 years, Menlo Park and Atherton have invested in our schools and our neighborhoods. We all enjoy the result: high property values, dynamic neighbors, and committed families. X is for Excellence — not just in our schools, but in our shared lives and communities.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2017 at 2:28 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I was in full support of Measure X but now both unions have exercised their contractual right to reopen their contracts and I worry that the parcel tax will go to salary increases rather than to protect student programs.


Posted by Home taught
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 2:32 pm

Someone should be worried about the obscene salaries for the unions at his day job, not our teachers, most of whom can not afford to live in the town they toil.

Vote yes.


Posted by Caryn Wasserstein
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 26, 2017 at 3:22 pm

Barbara thank you for the article letting everyone know about this important upcoming Measure X vote. I for one will be sending in my YES vote for the schools I supported with my tax dollars for years and years before I had kids in school and will continue to support long after they graduate 8th grade.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Jan 26, 2017 at 6:59 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

Unless I hear from the unions and board that funds from measure X will NOT be used for salary increases, I will be voting NO. This board needs to step up and control the costs it CAN. Salaries are one of those things. If they don't, they will have to cut programs.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:15 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Neither the unions nor the Board have disavowed salary increases for 2016/17 or 2017/18.

Given the District's history of always giving salary increases, including retroactive salary increases, a prudent taxpayer must assume that they will do the same this year and next year.

if so, then how much of the parcel tax will be available to protect essential student programs?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:31 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Here is what is ALREADY in the Board approved budget projection:
"Compensation Increases: Salaries and benefits make up almost 90% of
operating expense. Past budgets did not include compensation increases in
subsequent years because these increases are negotiated with the bargaining
units each year. Budgeted compensation increases reflected only regular
movement on the salary schedule, “step and column.” To more accurately
capture potential expenditures, staff looked at the historical agreements for
negotiated compensation increases over the last 10 years. A placeholder of
2.4% per year is added to salary expenditures in subsequent years, in addition to
regular step and column."

So exactly how much of the proposed parcel tax will be left to fund essential student programs?


Posted by What?
a resident of Menlo Park: Downtown
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:49 pm

Gee, 2% salary increases are less than the rate of inflation. Many of our teachers had raises in the 1% range over the last few years. This is the middle of silicon valley with entry level tech and vc incomes easily surpassing 100-200k, and people are complaining about 2% for teachers? Really? Have a little perspective and empathy.


Posted by Jenson
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Jan 26, 2017 at 8:50 pm

Here we go again,
Is there a stipulation as to how these monies are spent.?
Do you have to sign up for an exemption each year or does it require a one time sign up

If there is not some outreach by the district to voters to explain in full, remember transperancy, every question raised last time I'm voting No again.


Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:41 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

See: Web Link for Senior exemption info.
Check your tax bills to see if you have been "parcel" taxed.
For those, seniors or not, with their home on contiguous lots, they should be treated as single lots, BUT you must make a special request to effect that status.

On Jan. 13, 2017, Erik Burmeister said "Regarding contiguous parcels, while not a part of the formal provisions of the parcel tax, MPCSD residents are welcome and encouraged to visit our office and request a waiver for contiguous parcels on which one resident-owner resides. It is much less common in our community; however, we are more than willing to working with individual resident-owners in this situation."

He also said "We can certainly add that information to the website, no problem.", but that hasn't happened yet.


Posted by Barbara Wood
Almanac staff writer
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:44 pm

Barbara Wood is a registered user.

Thank you Jack. I somehow forgot to answer that question. If you already have a senior exemption with the district for a previous or existing parcel tax, it will be extended to this parcel tax. It is no longer necessary to reapply each year.
Here is more info: Web Link


Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Jan 27, 2017 at 2:45 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

This time, a YES vote would raise their CPI adjusted “take” to about $1,044 per parcel. Voting NO would allow that total to drop to around $684.


Posted by Michael
a resident of Menlo Park: Allied Arts/Stanford Park
on Jan 31, 2017 at 8:44 pm

Why should seniors get an exemption? They already pay far far less than any other residents in property taxes due to Prop 13, which is why the schools are strapped for funds in the first place!


Posted by Caryn Wasserstein
a resident of Menlo Park: South of Seminary/Vintage Oaks
on Jan 31, 2017 at 9:22 pm

As an FYI the District DID update their webpage about requesting an exemption for contiguous parcels. Here is the link Web Link


Posted by Justification
a resident of Menlo Park: Central Menlo Park
on Feb 2, 2017 at 11:03 pm

I find it hard to justify supporting the parcel tax MPCSD pays for a superintendent and an assistant superintendent. Do other districts our size have both positions?


Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Feb 3, 2017 at 10:07 am

"Why should seniors get an exemption?"

It's a bribe to get their votes. MPCSD and the MPAEF know if there wasn't an exemption, the measure would have no hope in passing.


Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2017 at 10:13 am

I think that it is dishonorable to vote for a parcel tax and then claim an exemption.

Just like sending other people's kids off to war but getting exemptions for your own.


Posted by Jack Hickey
a resident of Woodside: Emerald Hills
on Feb 3, 2017 at 12:24 pm

Jack Hickey is a registered user.

I think that it is honorable to vote AGAINST a parcel tax and then claim an exemption. This tax, which is to provide "world class" education far beyond the basics, should only apply to willing givers. And, there should be a provision on their tax bills allowing them to apply integer multiples of the tax when they submit their payments.


Posted by Jarrod
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2017 at 2:17 pm

@Peter Carpenter - Both unions have essentially gotten a 0% raise for 16/17, the 2.5% raise we received was for 15/16.
Both unions have always negotiated retroactively, and the last negotiations changed that which resulted in a zero increase for the current school year.

And of course both unions have said they would negotiate for a raise in 17/18, why wouldn't they? Money is not the main reason why most of the staff and teachers work in the district, it is still a job and they still have living expenses, hell most people get slapped with rent hikes of more than 2% per year.

And then you have to consider how the district would have any hope of keeping top notch staff if they are not at least willing to consider the request for a cost of living increase.

The bottom line here is that the parcel tax is going help the district maintain the high level of service they offer, it is an imperative need for this goal. And a huge part of the service offered has to do with the people they employ and pay. So I really fail to see how you think it is reasonable to say that you'd only vote/support the tax if the unions agreed to no raises for the foreseeable future. How many of your fire fighters would stick around if you said to them that they won't get a raise at all for coming years?


Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2017 at 2:20 pm

The MPFPD firefighters went for SIX YEARS without a raise.


Posted by Jarrod
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2017 at 2:31 pm

@Peter Carpenter - And how many good men and woman did you loose during that six year period?


Posted by Peter F Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 3, 2017 at 2:35 pm

To the best of my recollection none except to well earned retirements.


Posted by Jarrod
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2017 at 2:50 pm

I am just going to leave these two links here, make of them what you will.

Web Link

Web Link


Posted by Jarrod
a resident of another community
on Feb 3, 2017 at 2:54 pm

"To the best of my recollection none except to well earned retirements."

I was going to respond by saying I doubted that, but then I found out that the starting salary for a MP Firefighter is $173k, which means the veterans on the force are making nearly double that of the average MPCSD employee. So, yes, it is very likely that no one left as they could most certainly afford to do so.

Don't get me wrong, they deserve every penny of what they make. But so do the people who make MPCSD one of the best school districts in the state, and among the top in the country.


Posted by Willows Man
a resident of Menlo Park: The Willows
on Feb 4, 2017 at 12:09 am

Current Fire Board members have some nerve commenting on the MPCSD. The Fire District receives egregious amounts of our tax dollars, which are passed though as excessive salaries for fire district personnel without a second thought. [part removed.]

"SIX YEARS" without a raise... who needs a raise at these ridiculous salaries to begin with??

Remind me again, does Jack Hickey live within the MPCSD?


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2017 at 8:20 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Intelligent readers will note that I have ALWAYS supported Measure X.

Clearly reading comprehension is a priority for our schools.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 4, 2017 at 8:32 am

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

Palo Alto Daily News:

"Carpenter said he is “totally supportive” of Measure X, but thinks it will fail if the unions — Menlo Park Education Association, which represents teachers, and California School Employees Association Local 630, which represents all other district employees — don’t back away from seeking pay hikes. While the employees union has stated it “has an interest in a fair and equitable salary increase,” the teachers union has not yet declared its position on salaries. Carpenter expects it to do so after the election.

“The very fact that they reopened suggests they’re waiting for the money to come on the table and they’re going to grab it,” he said. “I think the unions should step up and say, we know this (parcel tax) is to save programs.”

Web Link


Posted by In answer to your question
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 4, 2017 at 4:10 pm

@ Willows Man. Jack Hickey lives in Redwood City.


Posted by Peter Carpenter
a resident of Atherton: Lindenwood
on Feb 6, 2017 at 3:50 pm

Peter Carpenter is a registered user.

I received the pro Measure X, which I support, today and I am shocked to see the following statement:

"Pease note that Menlo Park City School District offers residents 65 years and older an exemption on all parcel taxes. This means that if you are 65 or older you can vote yes on Measure X to support the schools and you are not required to pay the tax."

This position is a disgrace - advocating representation without taxation.


Posted by Train Fan
a resident of Hillview Middle School
on Feb 6, 2017 at 7:32 pm

'This position is a disgrace - advocating representation without taxation.'

Agreed. Like I said, it's a bribe to get seniors to vote for it. It's also standard boilerplate language that the vast majority of districts use to help extract more tax dollars from taxpayers since seniors are a relatively reliable voting block; bribe their vote and you frequently get your way. It's debatable whether it's legal considering similar attempts to segregate parcel taxation have failed. I WISH we could segregate parcel taxes; the best solution is to have another parcel tax for only Menlo park landowners, since they as a whole are the financial slackers for MPCSD funding. (That's TRUE and Jennifer knows it)

I've been mostly staying on the sidelines on this parcel tax measure. While the language used in the measure is questionable, the retirement funding impact is a legitimate issue and I've decided to not attempt to dissuade a yes on measure X.

But we'll see how the district and the unions react if they get their way. I suspect they'll do a money grab just like PAUSD but I'd love to be wrong.

I'm more interested in the next parcel tax measure, coming in 18-24 months.

I'll make sure that crashes and burns.


Posted by Menlo Voter.
a resident of Menlo Park: other
on Feb 6, 2017 at 8:24 pm

Menlo Voter. is a registered user.

"@ Willows Man. Jack Hickey lives in Redwood City."

So, he's not entitled to his opinion?


Posted by In answer to your question
a resident of Atherton: other
on Feb 6, 2017 at 9:47 pm

Menlo Voter. Please see post above your own where @Willows Man asked "Remind me again, does Jack Hickey live within the MPCSD?"

I was simply answering his question.


Posted by Jarrod
a resident of another community
on Feb 7, 2017 at 5:36 pm

“The very fact that they reopened suggests they’re waiting for the money to come on the table and they’re going to grab it,” [Peter Carpenter] said. “I think the unions should step up and say, we know this (parcel tax) is to save programs.”

No, the fact that the unions have reopened negotiations means that they are following precedent. They do so every year, around this time. So nothing unusual there. And both unions have endorsed the parcel tax, and are very much aware that this parcel tax is to save programs, members of both unions have been showing up to the board meetings consistently since November, possibly earlier.


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Aug 30, 2017 at 11:12 am

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


Posted by Name hidden
a resident of Menlo Park: Suburban Park/Lorelei Manor/Flood Park Triangle

on Sep 4, 2017 at 3:30 pm

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


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