A split Board of Education voted 3-2 this week to put a parcel tax on the Beverly Hills March 5 ballot.
Board President Brian Goldberg, Vice President Jake Manaster and member Noah Margo supported the motion at the Nov. 13 school board meeting. The proposed tax is not to exceed $499 per property. The tax would exempt seniors age 65 and older, and last no longer than five years. Half of all funds collected would be designated as a restricted endowment for the benefit of the Beverly Hills Unified School District.
The move comes as the district is discussing how to stem a projected $3.5 million shortfall for the 2013-14 school year.
Goldberg has been advocating a parcel tax since August as a way to help the district become more financially secure. BHUSD has seen a steady reduction in state funding over the last five years and became a basic aid district in 2010, meaning it's funded primarily by local property taxes.
"We need a parcel tax as part of a comprehensive plan to secure the future and [the] financial stability of this district," Goldberg said at the meeting.
Board members Lisa Korbatov and Lewis Hall voted against the parcel tax. Both said they didn't think the tax would pass by the necessary two-thirds majority.
Beverly Hills voters rejected a parcel tax three times between 1987 and 1991, although the measure lost by fewer than ten votes during one of those elections.
Hall noted that voters "feel very burdened at this point" with taxes. He also worried that a parcel tax could derail the board's pending effort to get community approval to raise the Measure E bond tax rate.
More than 400 cities in California have implemented parcel taxes, according to Superintendent Gary Woods. Nearby Santa Monica Unified School District has a parcel tax and holds healthy reserves, Manaster said. The board will vote on a formal resolution supporting the parcel tax at its Nov. 27 board meeting.
The parcel tax will be placed on the same ballot the city is using for the upcoming council election, this saving BHUSD the cost of printing ballots and holding an election.
Will you vote for the parcel tax on March 5? Tell us in the comments section below.
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