At a special meeting Tuesday night, Piedmont school board members unanimously approved an amended ballot measure that will — if voters give it their endorsement in a March 5, 2012 special election — replace the current school parcel tax structure with a flat tax of $2,406 per parcel starting July 1, 2013.
The new tax levy is designed to bring in 5 percent more than the current year's school parcel tax, for a total of about $9.5 million. The school board would have the option of increasing that amount by up to 2 percent a year during the life of the measure, which would run until June 30, 2021.
The new measure would replace Measure B tax rates, which otherwise would continue for another year, through June 30, 2014.
Under the new proposal, owners of Piedmont's smaller parcels and of undeveloped parcels will see a tax increase next year, while owners of larger residential lots and commercial properties will see decreases of up to $2,899 a year. For details, see "Amended School Parcel Tax Measure Would Mean Big Changes in Some Tax Bills" (Dec. 11, 2012).
The change was prompted by a ruling by the state's First District Court of Appeal on Thursday, Dec. 6, that threw out most of an Alameda school parcel tax and ruled that the Alameda Unified School District should have taxed each parcel at the same amount.
School board members expressed regret that the amended measure (dubbed Measure A) would place an extra burden on owners of smaller parcels but said they wanted the district to be in compliance with the appeals court ruling as soon as possible.
They noted that if the state legislature makes future changes to the law governing school district parcel taxes, a future school board could revisit the tax structure. Board President Rick Raushenbush said he's already spoken with State Senator Loni Hancock's office about the possibility of such legislation.
Raushenbush also said the original trial court in last week's case, Borikas vs Alameda Unified School District, upheld AUSD, "so the feelig is that the appeals court decision was a surprise."
Mark Williams, attorney for the Piedmont Unified School District, said the Borikas case was the first challenge to the current state law in its 27 years of existence.
The board scheduled last night's special meeting because the deadline for submitting changes in the ballot measure to the Alameda county Registrar of Voters is today.
The board meets again tonight at 7 in the City Hall Council Chambers for its regular session. On the agenda: a review of the first interim budget and a a contract with Quattrocchi Kwok Architects (QKA) to provide architectural services for the possible renovation and addition to the Alan Harvey Theater Building at Piedmont High School. You can see the agenda for tonight's meeting on the PUSD website here.