The Davis school board has announced a settlement of the Measure E parcel tax lawsuit brought by Davis resident Jose Granda and others.
Granda had argued that the dual rate structure written into Measure E, a four-year school parcel tax approved by voters last November, violated state law. The measure would have charged single-family homes $204 per year and multi-unit dwellings (apartments, condos, etc.) $20 per unit.
The California Court of Appeals ruled against a similar dual-rate school parcel tax in Alameda County in March, saying parcel taxes had to be assessed at a uniform rate, meaning one rate should apply to all types of parcels. That case was Borikas v. Alameda Unified School District.
That appellate court decision became final in June, when the California Supreme Court decided not to review the lower court’s decision.
The Davis school board then basically bowed to the inevitable on Aug. 15, recognizing the court decision by voting unanimously to exercise “severability” language allowing the board to modify Measure E in the event that portions of the parcel tax were struck down by a judicial decision, and establish a uniform parcel tax rate of $204 for all types of parcels.
The change to Measure E, however, did not automatically equate to a settlement of Granda’s lawsuit. Negotiations have been quietly underway for the past few months, leading up to Thursday’s announcement of the settlement, which includes the district agreeing to pay the plaintiff’s $70,000 in attorney’s fees.
In a prepared statement read at the beginning of Thursday night’s school board meeting, board president Sheila Allen said “This settlement ends the litigation and enables the district to move forward with implementing the programs to be funded by Measure E as approved by the voters.”
Granda said he was pleased that Measure E now complies with the law, but said he remains opposed to parcel taxes.
“We respectfully ask the school board to manage the resources wisely and look for alternative funding to parcel taxes,” he said. “We hope not to find ourselves in the same campaign or in a legal case in the future. Let’s take the positives we have learned from this experience and move on.”
The first payment under Measure E was billed at the rate of $204 per year for all parcels in the fall property statements mailed a few weeks ago by the Yolo County tax collector. The fall payment comes due in November, and becomes delinquent if not paid by Dec. 10. The school district will receive the first revenue under Measure E in early 2014.
— Reach Jeff Hudson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-747-8055.