Thursday, April 17, 2014
YOLO COUNTY NEWS
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Measure A supporters, opponents file finance statements

Abida Sahfi of the Yolo County Elections Office checks Thursday to make sure voters have properly signed the back of their mail ballot in Davis' Measure A school parcel tax election. Sue Cockrell/Enterprise photo

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April 22, 2011 | 21 Comments

Financial statements for the two committees in the Measure A campaign filed paperwork with the Yolo County Elections Office by Thursday’s deadline. Measure A is the emergency parcel tax proposed by the Davis school district to provide financial support for existing academic programs. Its fate is being decided in a mail-only election that began on April 4 and will end on May 3.

Measure A proposes to levy a tax of $200 per year on single-family homes and $20 per year on apartment units for the next two years. It requires a two-thirds vote of approval for passage.

The Davis Taxpayers Against Measure A committee reported receiving a total of $740 from three donors: $600 from Voters For District Elections, $130 from Dr. Jose Granda and $10 from Coleman Thomas Randall Jr.

Voters for District Elections is a group led by longtime Davis resident Ernie Head. Last year, the group circulated petitions in an effort to change Davis City Council elections from the current “at large” system (i.e., candidates can live anywhere in the city) to a district election system (i.e., candidates would run in a specific district covering a portion of the city, and would need to live in that district).

The petition drive, however, gathered only a few hundred signatures and came up far short of what’s needed to put the question before voters.

Davis Taxpayers Against Measure A spent $600 for phone bank expenses and $130 for a voter registration list from the Yolo County Elections Office. The group made at least two automated phone calls to urge a no vote on the tax measure, one directed at general voters and the other at senior citizens.

The Yes for Our Students Campaign — which supports passage of Measure A — reported $13,440 in contributions during the March 20-April 16 reporting period.  These include:

* $1,000 contributions from Dora and Jennifer Anderson, the Davis Teachers Association, Greg McNece, Lynne Yackzan and Randy Yackzan;

* $500 contributions from Bill and Nancy Roe, Dean F. Unger, John Whitcombe, John Youmans, Julian R. Youmans, Julian Youmans, Lawrence Shepard, Paul Makley, Reed Youmans, Rose Cholewinsky and William and Karmen Streng;

* $300 contributions from Janna Buccieri and Michael Pesola;

* $250 contributions from Rex and Janet Berry, Stacy Welsh and Assemblymember Mariko Yamada;

* $200 contributions from Elmer McNece, Jennifer McNece and Mark McNece;

* $150 contribution from Kim Eichorn;

* $100 contributions from Charles Booz, Gavin Payne, Gregg Cook, Jim Lamont, John Mott-Smith and Vicki Nagano.

Other lesser contributions are itemized as well.

The Yes for Our Students campaign — an ongoing committee that has supported other school district parcel measures in the past— had a carryover balance of $15,547 from previous years.

Expenditures include $314 to Political Data Inc. of Burbank, for equipment and phone bank materials; $8,044 to the Design Center of Davis, for postcard design and printing; $3,900 for postage; $4,335 to Leslie Hunter for office expenses and campaign salary, and $1,180 for phone bank interns. All told, the expenditures totaled $17,774.

In 2008, the Yes for Our Students Committee spent roughly $40,000 in support of Measure W, another school parcel tax. Expenses that year included yard signs, which have not been featured in this year’s campaign.

Not included in Thursday’s finance reports were any costs related to the letter sent by the Davis school district to local homeowners who previously claimed senior exemptions under Measures Q and W, the two existing voter-approved parcel taxes. The school district’s letter, which included a form for a senior exemption for Measure A, was criticized by some recipients as improperly timed and improperly worded. Superintendent Winfred Roberson and Board of Education President Richard Harris issued an apology a few days after the letter was sent out.

School leaders have said that if Measure A fails, seventh- and eighth-grade students would lose one period in their seven-period day, resulting in electives and some core classes. Class sizes would increase at the elementary, junior high and high school levels. There also would be reductions in the number of counselors, maintenance staff and other employees in the district.

Since there is a March 15 notification deadline for potential layoffs, the Davis school district has issued pink slips to 63 teachers and certificated staff, representing 57 full-time positions, and to employees covering 10 secretarial and custodian positions.

Measure A ballots may be mailed in their special blue envelopes to the Yolo County Elections Office (postage is paid by the county), or dropped off at specially marked boxes at the Stephens Branch Library, 315 E. 14th St. in Davis, or the Elections Office, 625 Court St. in Woodland.

Of the more than 43,000 ballots sent to voters on April 4, more than 12,000 ballots had been returned as of midday Friday, representing a voter turnout to date of more than 25 percent.

Davis area homeowners currently pay a total of $320 combined under Measures Q and W, which expire in June 2012.

— Reach Jeff Hudson at jhudson@davisenterprise.net or (530) 747-8055.

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Discussion | 21 comments

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  • No on AApril 22, 2011 - 2:39 pm

    17,774 / 740 = 24.0 times the spending (Yes vs. No). Recently other super-rich advocates have tried to buy elections and vastly outspent their opponents, but they were unable to fool the electorate. Will be interesting to see what happens in Davis.

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  • ShawnApril 23, 2011 - 1:13 pm

    "17,774 / 740 = 24.0 times the spending" - actually I would argue that's because the No on Effort is pathetic rather than $17,000 being a lot of money, because it's not. It is far less than what is spent on City Council campaigns for example.

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  • RobertApril 23, 2011 - 1:23 pm

    Parcel taxes are so immoral. I can't understand why anyone would vote for one.

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  • HankApril 23, 2011 - 1:31 pm

    Because it's immoral to underfund K-12 education. This is the only option that Prop. 13 gives us.

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  • Rich RifkinApril 23, 2011 - 5:14 pm

    For a very good, but brief primer on school parcel taxes, see this publication: http://www.orrick.com/fileupload/259.pdf It's also worth remembering that state law prohibits any locality in California from passing an income tax. For information on that, see this: http://taxes.about.com/od/statetaxes/a/States-Prohibiting-City-Income-Taxes.htm Because a parcel tax cannot be based on the value of the property and because it is illegal to exempt anyone but seniors (65+), the DJUSD has no option but the sort of uniform parcel tax it is pushing.

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  • What about....April 23, 2011 - 7:30 pm

    ....the non-flat-tax that owners in Natomas are voting on right now for flood control? That tax is based on area or assessed value or something....it is not a flat (fixed) tax for everybody. The excuse that "California doesn't let us do a more fair tax, so we'll just do the utterly unfair tax", works in the short term, but not longer. I'd be a lot more impressed with the DJUSD and supporters if they also tried to change the law.

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  • wdf1April 23, 2011 - 7:40 pm

    I saw that mentioned earlier. I looked on the Sac County elections page, and saw no mention of it. I would appreciate it if you would share where we could go to see more info on this.

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  • Rich RifkinApril 23, 2011 - 8:10 pm

    It is a flat tax of $60 per parcel under consideration for Natomas. It would be illegal under Prop 13 to do otherwise: http://www.sacbee.com/2011/03/02/v-mobile/3443721/sacramento-flood-leaders-vote.html

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  • Rich RifkinApril 23, 2011 - 8:21 pm

    I should note this: the DIF being paid in the Natomas region is flat for all parcels which are single family homes, just as would be the case in Davis if Measure A passes. There are varying rates for multi-family parcels and for commercial or other properties, just as is the case in Davis with Measure A. This document explains how their current DIF ($35 per SFH) works: http://www.safca.org/documents/DIF/DIFExecSumFinal.pdf

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  • No on AApril 24, 2011 - 8:04 am

    "How much will I pay and for how long? When the assessment district is formed and bonds are issued, each property is assessed a certain amount based on the percentage of benefit received by the property. Factors that determine the amount of benefit received may include the size of the lot or the proximity to the improvement being financed." I own property in Natomas, and have always been under the impression, from literature from SAFCA, that the assessment is not fixed at the same amount for each parcel. The above quote from SAFCA tends to confirm my impression. BTW, I voted in favor of this tax.

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  • wdf1April 23, 2011 - 11:38 pm

    It is a Mello-Roos CFD assessment, that applies to facilities and infrastructure improvements. As I understand it, this kind of tax cannot be used to pay for teachers and programs in a school district, but in this case can be used to pay for levees and flood control structures. http://www.safca.org/assessments/mellorose.html

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  • Rich RifkinApril 24, 2011 - 6:04 pm

    "Property owners in Mello Roos Districts are responsible for payment of the "special tax". The amount of the "special tax" is not (directly) based on the value of the property. Special taxes are based on mathematical formulas that take into account property characteristics such as square footage of the home and parcel size. The special tax is typically included in the annual County tax bill." The Measure A parcel tax is also a 'special tax.' The reason it cannot differentiate an amount based on parcel size or square footage is because Yolo County does not have records which allow that. In other words, the county assessor just does not know the size of houses in Davis or the size of all parcels. (I learned this when the parks tax came up.)

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  • AlApril 24, 2011 - 6:51 am

    An exemption for Social Security/Disability recipients can be provided for school district parcel taxes as well. The DJUSD chose not to allow this permissible exemption, only the other permissible exemption for those 65+. Apparently, there are not enough voters on disability to effect the outcome, while there are plenty of wealthy seniors in this town willing to vote for the tax, and even contribute to the campaign (Dean F. Unger and Paul Makley each gave $500 to the Yes campaign. Both exempt their homes from DJUSD parcel taxes), knowing they can just exempt themselves from having to pay it.

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  • No on AApril 24, 2011 - 4:34 pm

    Is the information about who claims the exemption publicly available? Is it online, or must one go to the county offices?

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  • Thomas Randall, JrApril 24, 2011 - 10:43 pm

    See section 50079 of the California Government Code which explains the exemptions that a School District can offer in regards to a special tax in the wording of a ballot measure proposing such. Also, one can go to view the property tax information for specific real property in Davis at the Yolo County Tax Collectors Office at 625 Court Street in Woodland and the computer listing will list the owners names and their specific tax assessments in the research room there.

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  • AlApril 25, 2011 - 6:51 am

    The school district, under the California Public Records Act, should be able to provide any member of the public with a copy of the mailing list that was used when they sent out the letter promoting Measure A to those with an existing exemption.

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  • Thomas Randall, JrApril 24, 2011 - 10:46 pm

    This statement is not completely accurate. Read the text of Government Code Section 50079 which allow a School District to offer an exemption to SSDI recipient parcel owners if included in the language of a ballot measure. Many other school districts in California currently offer this as an exemption option.

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  • BarryApril 24, 2011 - 10:48 pm

    What are some school districts that have such an exemption?

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  • AlApril 23, 2011 - 2:29 pm

    Are the Dean F. Unger and Paul Makley who each made $500 contributions to the Yes on A campaign the same Dean F. Unger and Paul Makley who have exempted themselves from paying other DJUSD parcel taxes?

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  • parentApril 24, 2011 - 2:11 am

    Notice how many developers are contributing to the Yes on A campaign. They would like to have taxpayers paying for schools, rather than fees on the new housing they want to build.

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  • wdf1April 24, 2011 - 2:38 pm

    Fees on new housing typically go toward building or upgrading school facilities, not paying teacher salaries. I think developers believe school parcel taxes add value to the community, and hence add value to the houses in Davis.

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