Trustees considering parcel tax

PACIFICA — Drawing on reserves and grant money in recent years, the Pacifica School District will likely go out for a parcel tax on the city’s property owners to make up for inequities in state funding.

Local real estate agents are hesitant about the tax’s potential success at the polls and questioned whether it was the best way to bring funds to the district’s coffers. However, District Superintendent Jim Lianides said officials are hopeful that the recent approval of the Jefferson Union High School District bond measure was “symbolic of the community’s support for education.”

At its Wednesday meeting, the school district board is considering a $96 annual parcel tax over five years that would not differentiate between commercial and residential parcels, Lianides said.

The tax, if passed next May, would bring an estimated $960,000 annually to the district’s budget.

“Either we’re able to get an infusion of extra cash or we’re going to have to initiate cutbacks for next year,” Lianides said, adding that the biggest part of their troubles was “inadequate funding from the state.”

Over the past six years, the district has cut $1.2 million in expenses, all the while continuing to perform at a high level, the superintendent said.

According to data from 2004-2005, Pacifica School District spends the second least of all San Mateo County school districts, spending $6,571 on each of the district’s roughly 3,100 students. It is 10th, however, out of the 23 school districts countywide in the state’s Academic Performance Index.

“We needed to show our community that we were spending their money wisely, which is what we’ve done,” Board President Joan Weideman said when asked why to seek a parcel tax now.

In addition to teacher training, the district wants the parcel tax, if approved, to attract and retain quality teachers, enhance its library services and prevent additional cutbacks to instructional programs, Lianides said.

Paul Benson, a real estate agent with Pacific Coast Real Estate, said he’d most likely support it but he had a “little bit of a sour taste” in his mouth after Measure L, the Rockaway Quarry measure that was voted down.

“Some balanced growth and development will expand the tax base, and that would preclude having a parcel tax for necessary services,” Benson said.

Re/Max Dolphin real estate agent Scott Findlay worried about past public outcry against such taxes, but said that the $96 per parcel tax wouldn’t impact the real estate market.

The Pacifica School District board will consider putting the parcel tax to a May 2007, all-mail ballot at its meeting Wednesday, Nov. 15 at 7:30 p.m. in the district offices, 375 Reina del Mar Ave. in Pacifica.

dsmith@examiner.com

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