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Will You Vote for the School District's Parcel Tax in November?

With campaign officials set to make their case over the next six months for a $196 parcel tax on top of the existing $731 per parcel tax, we want to hear from you: will you vote for it?

The  board voted last week to place a new $196 parcel tax on the ballot for the Nov. 6 election. In doing so, district and parcel tax campaign officials hope to sway the 82 percent of district voters who don't currently have children in any of the district's six schools.

Over the next six months, campaign officials will lay out their case for the $196 parcel tax, which needs two-thirds support to pass. The tax would be on top of the existing $731 per parcel tax. The parcel tax was first passed in 2004 and raised and extended via Measure A in November 2008. The new tax would begin in July 2013 and run through 2020. Seniors are exempt.

The campaign's largely focuses on a ballooning budget deficit caused by a confluence of factors, including booming enrollment and stagnant property taxes, which account for 56 percent of the district's revenue. The primary argument will focus on the need for more revenue that could not be taken back by the state. The district has been hit by a cumulative $3 million cut from state “take backs” from the $1.3 million the district gets to maintain a 20-to-1 student-to-teacher ratio from kindergarten through third grade. 

The proposed tax would generate approximately $1.9 million annually for the district. That revenue would not be subject to state take backs.

Here’s the language that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot for the Mill Valley School District’s parcel tax measure: 

“To replace significant cuts by the State in education funding; protect the quality of local elementary and middle schools and attract and keep highly qualified core academic teachers; shall the Mill Valley School District be authorized to implement a parcel tax of one hundred ninety-six dollars for eight years, requiring annual audit and accountability measures, and with all revenues kept local and used exclusively for Mill Valley elementary and middle schools?”

rik May 14, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I "Like" (no, make that LOVE) this comment! I have been trying to remind people (anyone who will listen) that it is typically the most strident opponents to parcel taxes and the like who have benefited most from (i) patently unfair Prop 13 tax rates that favor longtime owners of real estate (a system, by the way, that exists no where else in the country), and (ii) are the very people who can and will cash out their homes to the families who still (for the time being) want to come to Mill Valley seeking the same quality of life and strong schools that the longtime residents have enjoyed for decades. All they have to do is breathe to enjoy these benefits and yet they complain about having to pay their share to keep Mill Valley schools decent. The small investment in the schools via the tax bill will come back to them (and the rest of us) 10 times over if family "x" comes here because the schools are strong. Go figure.
Jim Welte May 14, 2012 at 07:25 PM
Thanks to each of you for chiming in here. I would ask, however, that you refrain from criticizing one another personally, particularly behind the shield of anonymity. There are enough substantive things to talk about with regard to the proposed parcel tax - and many of you have eloquently brought them up on this thread- to avoid getting personal with one another. Thanks again.
Magoo May 14, 2012 at 08:06 PM
If property values never go up, that would be fine with me.
Rico May 15, 2012 at 12:43 AM
I "Like" (no, make that LOVE) prop. 13. Even though I lost my first Public Works job due to prop. 13, being protected by prop. 13 has made it possible to stay living here, where I LOVE to live. The wealthy newcomers who complain about the long time locals not paying as much property tax as them are just jealous. It is not possible to come in and take over Mill Valley with a new wealthy agenda and boot out out the locals who have been here for decades.They can huff, puff and try and tax us out, but it won't work. So, these newcomers had better get used to it, and they should be very thankful that we let them live here. If the wealthy newcomers want to pump endless money into the MVSD real estate, they should tax themselves and keep the rest of us out of the funding loop.
Mari May 15, 2012 at 12:45 AM
We will vote "yes" on the parcel tax. Any money spent on public education is well spent.
rik May 15, 2012 at 01:03 AM
Are there any rules against plagiarizing other comments (or rhetorical devices used therein)? If so, Ricardo Charducci needs his wrist slapped. He also sounds like a NIMBY hypocrite. No one is trying to "kick [him] out" and our "wealthy agenda" is public education. Got that? PUBLIC EDUCATION. I'm not jealous of him, I'm just willing to face the facts: it takes money to educate kids. He evidently, is a lost cause. Also, I want to thank him for letting me live here, 'cause I'll be here long after he (or his estate) has sold his house to a nice young family who is happy to pay their fair share.
Dismayed & Disappointed May 15, 2012 at 03:31 AM
Stephanie: You wrote the following on the Mill Valley School Advocates Facebook page, "MV schools support our property values! People buy here to buy into good schools. Stephanie Witt- Realtor." Aren't you contradicting yourself? By voting against this parcel tax, the schools won't be strong.
russellcraig May 15, 2012 at 03:55 AM
rik: see Jim Welte's comment above.
Magoo May 15, 2012 at 05:20 AM
It's time to recuit alternative lifestyle couples to move here. Not kidding.
Madame Defarge May 15, 2012 at 04:13 PM
It's time the School District stopped exploiting the knee-jerk worship of its sacred cow. They're not the only ones with a worthy cause! We seniors who've been living here since long before the invasion of today's Mercedes-Benz crowd have already paid our fair share — several times over! Right now we've got all we can handle just trying to keep Morgan Chase, Wells Fargo and Bank of America's fleets of corporate jets in the air. The Mill Valley School District wants money — again? They should try living on a fixed income! Let 'em means test their parents and get the money from them; the bulk of them are loaded. Otherwise, they can pry it from the grasping fingers of the Wall Street sociopaths who keep stealing it from the rest of us!
Magoo May 15, 2012 at 04:49 PM
Yeah, long before some of these parents moved here, many of us have been paying every year for improvements to the schools created Mill Valley School Bond measures passed in 1994 and 1998.
Rico May 15, 2012 at 04:51 PM
It used to be that school districts were created to educate the students, that was their first and foremost purpose. Often, land was donated and the community pitched in to help with the construction of schools. Now, it seems that school districts , healthcare districts and some other special districts are more like real estate investment corporations. The pay underwriters to campaign for bond measures and tax increases so they can acquire more real estate holdings, and to do more expensive construction projects. These real estate deals and construction projects are sold to the voters as being "for our kids", but that is not the truth. The kids don't really care about having 30 foot high ceilings, they just want roofs that don't leak, heaters that function properly,lighting that is good and maintained, having good teachers and plenty of educational materials to read and work with. It is the business agents of the MVSD that want the primo state of the art new buildings so that they can lease it out in the future to private schools for top dollar. The school district's business agents have lost focus on the purpose of public school districts, and turned it into a profiteering exploitive real estate business. They even have some of the new parents convinced that more taxes mean a better education for their children. I will be voting NO on any school tax increases.
rik May 15, 2012 at 05:35 PM
While there are the seeds of informed opinion in the latest missive from Ricardo Charducci once again he sees conspiracy where there is none and essentially confuses capital budgets and operating budgets. While it may be fairly debated whether we needed to pass a BOND MEASURE to renovate and build new schools (I actually was against it because I foresaw a community backlash against a fancy new school when what we DO need is enough good teachers who are reasonably well paid) the PARCEL TAX would be used to do the very thing you suggest is necessary, i.e., the parcel tax pays for OPERATING COSTS such as teacher salaries, heat, electricity, pencils, paper, etc. Furthermore, it is just silly to accuse the Board of empire building and the like. Really? Come down to planet earth and play nice with your fellow community members.
Madame Defarge May 15, 2012 at 09:33 PM
I did my 12 years in grammar and high school, and another 8 beyond that. More than most, I value a good teacher; they deserve to be paid what they're worth. Unless most Mill Valley parents of today are struggling to hold down jobs in the food services industry or waste management, they can afford to make up the difference between what teachers are owed and what they're paid. About the other operating expenses "rik" cites: "heat, electricity, pencils, paper, etc.," is that it? What's in rik's "etcetera" list: gas for the cars the kids park in the Safeway lot? "School lunches" they can't afford to buy at Safeway, Grilly's, Tamalpie and Whole Foods? Has anyone anymore heard of a friggin' lunch pail? Rik, give us your "etc." list so we can see what can be saved (surely there must be something). Meantime, if the classrooms are cold, I recommend what my generation used — sweaters (they really don't have to be cashmire). Pencils and paper? Puh-lease! Let's ask dad to recycle his golf balls and mom to cut back on the latés she buys on her way to yoga class! Sir, like Mill Valley's profligate School District, you are out of touch, outside reality, and far too accustomed to demanding and spending freely what others have earned!
Bill McGee May 16, 2012 at 05:46 AM
Ricardo - not one dime of this parcel tax can be used on real estate, remodeling, or expansion of infrustructure. If you had children in public schools I suspect you might get involved enough to know a little bit about the subject. However you also can read the voter pamphlet or even this article here in the Patch and saved your rant about all those things that are not even relevent to this discussion.
MarinT May 16, 2012 at 07:17 AM
According to Dr Rollins, the business lead at the Mill Valley School District, the District has about $7 million in un-funded pension and retiree healthcare obligations. This was her response to a question about school finances as a board meeting in June of 2011. She did not mention that the previous year, each district employee was given a BONUS. They might need the money, but they haven't been good financial stewards either.
MarinT May 16, 2012 at 07:52 AM
The MVSD baked in a yearly 5% compounded increase in their Measure C parcel tax. When C was first brought before voters, the lowest "first year" number was presented as the new assessment. Now voters have seen 5 years of "C" increases in a flat to down economic times as well as creeping taxation from every agency with taxing authority. The consultant who the MVSD hired gave the MVSD notice this would be an uphill battle to pass - and the consultant was right. It likely won't. What could pass would be a "novation" of Measure C - where we dial that back by $200 per year, and then pass a new measure for about $200 per / year that provided funding for teachers. So, the MVSD might be successful in a cost-neutral assessment strategy that reallocated total assessment draws from facilities planned and to teacher salaries. The current MVSD "plans" are to spend about $220 million on facilities or nearly a quarter billion dollars. That is clearly outsized in the new economic realities and needs to be scaled down. We are facing the prospect of over-built facilities and under-funded teachers in Mill Valley.
Magoo May 16, 2012 at 03:01 PM
It's time to be WHISTLE BLOWERS. For example, there are property owners who have a house in the MVSD but no longer are using it as their principal residence and are renting it. Well, they are no longer exempt from parcel taxes even if they are over 65. Also if you know of anybody who should have acquired a building permits for required improvements or building a house from scratch, you should report this to the county which is losing revenue. Of course you may watch to let those people know of their violations first and give them a chance to correct it themselves. Maybe some of you who support the additional tax have cheated the local government of their taxes and permit fees.
Citizentoo May 16, 2012 at 05:40 PM
Charducci--Edna is being rebuild to accommodate the growing school population; the other existing schools don't have the space and are approaching capacity. Defarge--out of touch? Kids in k-8 don't drive cars and are not allowed off campus for lunch. The MV School District is a k-8 district.
A Day Well Lived May 16, 2012 at 06:05 PM
It's a shame that there seems to be a need to respond to reason and facts with conjecture, emotion and comments that border on insanity. It's an even bigger shame that decisions seem to be made already without having done any actual research or without actually understanding the issues and challenges. The aforementioned apples to oranges. Many of us are simply appealing to those who have decided to vote no to get educated with the actual facts. Apples to apples. Oranges to oranges. What isn't a shame, however, is the faith that I personally have in the Mill Valley community. I'm confident that when the time comes to vote on this (many months from now), the people who genuinely care about the community and not just their own personal agendas will make their voices heard. The parcel tax will get approved and the kids in our community will continue to get the kind of education that helped many of us (if not ALL of us) decide to move here in the first place (no matter when that was). Regardless, what we need to try to do is refrain from tearing the community apart. We need to try to avoid the name calling, sociographic/demographic generalizations and hatred that are working into this thread. It's everyone's right to agree or disagree, but hopefully, we can do that respectfully and with actual facts as the basis of our decisions.
russellcraig May 16, 2012 at 06:28 PM
Well said, Friend of Mill Valley. When I compare apples to apples on my property tax bill nearly 20% of the total goes to the Mill Valley School District. I don't think we need to argue the pros or cons of an additional parcel tax for schools here--rather, we should focus on the bigger picture of how our tax dollars are allocated. Apples to apples: the Mill Valley School District already enjoys a disproportionate share. And if the past few years are any sort of indicator there is no upper limit to future additional parcel tax increases.
Rico May 16, 2012 at 10:01 PM
Citizen, If a person who owns a home rents it out, the property tax is paid for by the renter, and then forwarded to the county assessor by the owner. I don't know anyone in their right mind who would not build the property taxes into the rent, but maybe there are some kind landlords out there. Also, about people building a house from scratch without a permit, I would say that would be impossible. The county assessor does fly overs to look for new wood, and that includes any new additions and decks. One can not even pick up a hammer in Mill Valley without obtaining a permit, there are 3 building inspectors and lots of busy body neighbors. By the way, all of unincorporated Marin has only 3 building inspectors to cover a much larger territory than Mill Valley.
Magoo May 22, 2012 at 05:07 PM
You stick by your guns regardless of your opinion begin unpopular in some quarters. I like that. I would definitely give you name to someone who wants to buy here or wants to sell.
Lisa Baldwin May 25, 2012 at 11:12 PM
I have taught in our Mill Valley school district, sent 3 of my children to our schools, and have been a volunteer and served on many committees over the past 23 years. I have made every effort to stay fully informed and am so dismayed about the extent of misinformation on these posts. I implore you to be open, search out the facts and make an informed logical decision. An excellent place to find answers to common questions is http://www.protectmvschools.org/index2.php?cmd=faq. Please, please honor our students by being a student yourself and really learn about the circumstances of our school district.
Scott May 26, 2012 at 06:04 PM
You're dismayed about the extent of misinformation on these posts and your solution is to tell people to go to a website that advocates one side of the argument? That's simply not credible. FACT: per MVSD's website, the mid year revision to the budget had revenues going UP by $1,000,000. And they tell us revenues are down. (I find it suspicious that they don't post prior years' figures). FACT: in the same budget revision, expenses also go UP but this time by $1,500,000. And they tell us they've sharpened their pencils and cut all the expenses they can. CONCLUSIONS based on these facts: this is horrible fiscal management, they don't have a good handle on their budgets, expenses can be cut a lot more, and we should not give them anymore of our money until they can demonstrate they can be good stewards of it. People who argue for raising our taxes 27% by espousing simpleton slogans designed to elicit sympathy such as "Protect MV Schools" are expecting voters won't dig into the issue to find out about the problem is really fiscal mismanagement and not a revenue problem. This is a very good teachable moment - teach our kids responsibility by being responsible ourselves and living within our means.
Magoo May 26, 2012 at 10:24 PM
Here Here. There goes salaries for four teachers to pay to hold this election.
hab3 May 28, 2012 at 05:38 PM
Methinks the lady doth protest too much ...
Magoo May 28, 2012 at 07:57 PM
There's not enough citizens who care to protest.
Greg June 16, 2012 at 07:18 PM
I'm voting no. You don't fund your operating expenses from additional parcel taxes. That is a slippery slope that only leads to the next parcel tax increase. Get your act together and solve your problem within your means. Did people forget we just passed the scam bond measure to rebuild Edna and the costs there were low balled? It's going to run way over budget and going to cost parcel holders far more than they think. But...at least that was for upgrading facilities and NOT for operating expenses. Scott, Don't you know that every government agency bakes in a % increase over the previous year and that's the budget, so when the baked-in increase doesn't go through it's a cut in the budget? Salary increases, pensions, medical...up up and away .
Curry Eckelhoff June 17, 2012 at 03:57 PM
Say it the way it is --you are referring to the Bush Tax Cuts which will end at the end of the year unless they are renewed.

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