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November 8, 2016 — California General Election
Special District

West Contra Costa Unified School District
Measure T - 2/3 Approval Required

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Election Results

Passed

64,358 votes yes (76.33%)

19,956 votes no (23.67%)

100% of precincts reporting (125/125).

93,936 ballots counted.

To maintain quality education with local funding the State cannot take, including: protecting core academics, reading, writing, math, and science, attracting and retaining quality teachers, supporting science lab materials and activities, providing lower class sizes, preparing students for college and the workforce, shall West Contra Costa Unified School District extend the existing school funding measure for 8 years, at the current 7.2 cents per square foot of building area, providing $9.8 million annually, exempting seniors and requiring independent citizen oversight?

What is this proposal?

Measure Details — Official information about this measure

YES vote means

 A “Yes” vote is a vote in favor of authorizing the parcel tax for a eight-year period of time.

NO vote means

A “No” vote is a vote against authorizing the parcel tax for a eight-year period of time.

Impartial analysis / Proposal

County Counsel

  The governing board of the West Contra Costa Unified School District has adopted a resolution proposing to extend its current parcel tax (a qualified special tax).

 

     This ballot measure asks voters to decide whether an existing parcel tax should continue to be imposed on parcels of taxable real property within the District for eight years, beginning July 1, 2019. The proposed tax would expire June 30, 2027.

     The tax would apply to each parcel of taxable real property in the District. If a parcel has a building on it, the tax would be 7.2 cents per square foot of total building area on the parcel. That means the annual tax on a parcel with a 1,500 square-foot building would be $108. A parcel of taxable real property is any unit of real property in the District that receives a separate tax bill for property taxes from the Contra Costa County Treasurer-Tax Collector’s Office. A parcel otherwise exempt from property taxes will also be exempt from the imposition of the parcel tax.

     The ballot measure includes certain exemptions. Upon proper application to the District, the District may exempt any parcel from the parcel tax that is (1) owned and occupied as a principal residence by a person 65 years of age or older; (2) owned and occupied as a principal residence by a person receiving Supplemental Security Income for a disability; or (3) owned and occupied as a principal residence by a person receiving Social Security Disability Insurance benefits, whose yearly income does not exceed 250 percent of the 2012 federal poverty guidelines issued by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.

     The ballot measure states that the proceeds of the parcel tax will be used for “protecting core academics, reading, writing, math, and science, attracting and retaining quality teachers, supporting science lab materials and activities, providing lower class sizes, [and] preparing students for college and the workforce.” Proceeds from the parcel tax may be used only for the specific purposes set forth in the ballot measure and according to constitutional and statutory provisions.

     State law requires the District’s chief fiscal officer to file an annual report with the District’s Board of Education that states the amounts of funds received and expended in each year and the status of any projects required or authorized to be funded from the parcel tax proceeds. The proceeds from the parcel tax will be deposited into a District account that will be kept separate from other District accounts. Parcel tax funds will be the subject of an annual independent financial audit, which shall be made public.

     Two-thirds of those voting on the ballot measure must approve the measure for it to pass.

     A “Yes” vote is a vote in favor of authorizing the parcel tax for a eight-year period of time.

     A “No” vote is a vote against authorizing the parcel tax for a eight-year period of time.

Published Arguments — Arguments for and against the ballot measure

Arguments FOR

Maintain quality local education and give students the tools they need to succeed by voting YES on Measure T. This measure renews our local educational funding measure providing the tools our students need to succeed in college and today’s workforce. Measure T ensures a basic level of funding for our schools that the state can’t take away, allowing the school district to continue giving students a quality education from kindergarten to high school graduation. We cannot rely on the state government to fund local schools. Voting YES on Measure T will renew the existing funding needed to maintain core academic programs that prepare our students for success.
Vote YES on Measure T to:

  • Fund core academic programs of reading, writing, math and science;
  • Maintain manageable class sizes in the early grades to provide students with the individual attention they need;
  • Support after-school programs that keep kids away from gangs and drugs;
  • Keep programs that prepare students for college and train them for the workforce;
  • Provide classroom computers, technology, and science lab materials; and
  • Attract and retain quality teachers.

Measure T guarantees local educational funding for schools and students for the next 10 years. All funding will stay here in our community and can’t be taken by the state for any reason. An independent citizens oversight committee will review all expenditures ensuring they are spent correctly. No funds raised from Measure T will be used for administrator salaries. Seniors and disabled are exempt from paying this tax.
Measure T does not increase your taxes – it continues the current local educational funding to maintain programs in local schools. Without Measure T, the district will be forced to make significant cuts to critical programs that our children need.
Vote YES on Measure T – protect our schools and help local students.
http://measuret2016.nationbuilder.com/

Tony Thurmond, Assemblymember, District 15
Rita Xavier, President, League of Women Voters – West Contra Costa County
Genoveva Garcia Calloway, Councilmember – City of San Pablo
Kwame Baah-Arhin, Student Trustee, Contra Costa Community College District
Tiffany Harris, President, Bayside Council of PTAs

— Contra Costa County Elections Division

Arguments AGAINST

The West Contra Costa Unified School District wants to tap your wallet – again. Property tax bills show multiple bonds from 1998 to 2012, and property owners will continue to pay these obligations for many years. In addition, a large share of our basic 1% county property taxes goes to WCCUSD. 

Voters also approved a parcel tax in 2004, slated to expire in 5 years, which was extended twice by voters to 2019. WCCUSD wants, again, to renew the parcel tax while years still remain on the current tax. Measure T would extend expiration another 8 years to 2027.

But, has all this taxpayer money been well spent?

Currently, the School District is under investigation by two federal agencies, and its $1.6 billion bond program is being audited for mismanagement, fraud and waste. This independent forensic audit was triggered by allegations of abuse disclosed to the public by a District employee “whis-tleblower.” (Incidentally, a recent report by the Contra Costa Grand Jury stated that the District has been paying over three times more for construction costs than the state average.) The result of the initial phase of the forensic audit was appalling, showing that the allegations are likely plausible. The full report is due August 31.

Fortunately, some positive leadership changes have occurred. However, the whistleblower, who tried for years without success to bring problems to management’s attention before going public, just received an unsatisfactory performance evaluation, a clear violation of state law protecting whistleblowers from retaliation.

Voters should wait for these investigations to reveal their findings, and demand that the District correct its shortcomings. It’s much too soon to entrust the District with more of our money.

Vote NO on Measure T.

Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, Jack Weir, President

— Contra Costa County Elections Division

Replies to Arguments FOR

There is no question that the district is in fiscal chaos. It’s scandalous bond program is under investigation by two federal agencies, and the county grand jury issued a scathing report of excessive bond project construction costs (over three times the state average). A full forensic audit of internal whistleblower allegations of bond program abuse is underway. $1.6 billion in bonds is almost gone, but half of the district’s schools remain untouched.

 Members of the Contra Costa Taxpayers Association (CoCoTax) have worked diligently for years on the school bond oversight and parcel tax advisory committees, pushing for full public transparency and fiscal prudence. These efforts have been vigorously resisted by the former regime. It is also clear that a number of charter schools in the district have been able to deliver excellent cost-effective educational results, yet they are under constant attack by the entrenched “educrat” establishment.

CoCoTax fully supports the new district leadership, and their top goal of significantly improving educational outcomes. This hard-working community deserves no less. However, their hard-earned tax dollars must be managed by the district in a way that demonstrates the same ability to live within its means as those families and businesses practice every day.

It will take time to implement corrective procedures, and there will probably be some painful cuts required. However challenging, this process is necessary to restore community trust in district leadership and management.

Send a strong message; vote NO on Measure T.

Contra Costa Taxpayers Association, Jack Weir, President

— Contra Costa County Elections Division

Replies to Arguments AGAINST

Arguments against Measure T are purposefully meant to confuse. The measure does not raise taxes and Measure T does not have anything to do with school construction. The authors mix apples and oranges.

Revenues allow for vital programs for students like libraries, counselors, small class size and after school learning without asking for a single additional dollar from taxpayers. Loss of these funds would be devastating and the cuts would be planned as early as next year. By renewing now, we avoid uncertainty and secure these services for eight additional years.

As with past measures, Measure T will be audited annually and reviewed by an independent oversight committee. People on fixed incomes like seniors and those with disabilities can receive an exemption.

West Contra Costa has always generously supported its students. New district leadership recognizes that community commitment and the responsibility to use each dollar well.

To force large cuts now by losing Measure T’s funds will harm the new superintendent’s ability to raise student achievement. Our children cannot afford this set back.

Nancy Skinner, Assemblymember District 15, Ret.
Anton Jungherr, Hercules Citizen
Jen Komaromi, Business Owner and Parent

— Contra Costa County Elections Division

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