Parcel tax would help buoy schools

For the second year in a row, Pacifica School District is hoping to pass a parcel tax on the June 3 ballot that will help bring additional funding to its elementary and middle schools.

Measure N is a $96 annual parcel tax that would apply to Pacifica’s 11,000 parcels beginning July 1. The tax, which needs 66 percent of the vote to pass, would sunset after five years. The proceeds, estimated to be about $1 million, would go directly to the district and would be overseen by an independent committee.

The district tried to pass the parcel tax last year, but the measure received 58 percent of the votes. However, school officials are saying the need is even more dire this year.

“Last time, we weren’t faced with these massive cuts projected to be close to $1.1 million,” district board member Joan Weideman said. “Measure N is to retain and attract high quality teachers, protect class size and maintain important educational programs.”

Jim Wagner, a resident who supports the measure, said he doubts it will pass.

“In my opinion, this measure is doomed because of the economy,” he said. “The sewer fee and the water fee just went up. I tell my neighbors that $96 is nothing, but there are people with no kids who don’t see the reason for the tax.”

Weideman said contributing$8 a month toward education is a bargain. But resident Bernie Sifry, a former high school principal from New York City, said the parcel tax is not a real solution.

“This is a Band-Aid solution to a major problem that the state has and it doesn’t cover it,” he said. “This is a problem of the Legislature, not a problem of the parcel tax hitting the homeowners. This isn’t enough money for them. In two or three years, they will come foranother tax.”

Sifry suggested another route — taking 10 percent of the money that’s contributed to support or oppose state propositions and candidates and donating it to education. He said it’s a win-win solution because those who donate would get a tax deduction and the credo of supporting education.

svasilyuk@sfexaminer.com

Measure N

The initiative needs two-thirds approval to pass.

$96: Proposed annual tax

$900,000 to $1 million: Money district would earn annually from tax

Five: Years the tax would last

Two-thirds: Vote needed to pass

58: Percent of voters who approved May 2007 failed parcel tax

11,000: Parcels in Pacifica subject to the tax, including exempt seniors

$25,000-$30,000: Cost to put tax on ballot

$1.3 million: Money cut from district in last six years

*Source: Pacifica School District

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