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Council Endorses School Tax Measure  
By Lookout Staff

March 26, 2010 -- The City Council on Tuesday gave its support to Measure A, the $198-per-parcel tax expected to generate $5.7 million for the cash-strapped Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District (SMMUSD). The vote was 6-0. Council member Robert Holbrook did not attend the meeting.

Council members did not discuss the item. They heard from several advocates for the tax, including school district officials and activists.

Council member Gleam Davis said in a press release issued after the meeting, “We are fortunate to have excellent public schools, but state budget cuts will erode years of investment and improvement if we don’t pass Measure A and provide reliable local funding for education.”

The SMMUSD is facing a deficit of up to $14 million for the next school year. Its financial hole is mostly due to decreased revenue from Sacramento, the District’s largest financial contributor. Earlier this month, 61 SMMUSD teachers, nurses and counselors were issued layoff notices. Some of those jobs could be saved if Measure A passes.

 

Opponents of the measure have various issues with it. One of their major arguments is that the uniform charge for all parcels is a regressive tax. Small homeowners must pay the same amount as large commercial businesses.

They argue for a square footage-based tax. Measure A advocates say this is too risky. This type of tax passed in 2008 in the Alameda Unified School District. A lawsuit was filed, putting the tax in limbo for nearly two years. That school district has proposed a new measure as part of a settlement.

Measure A has a five-year lifespan. It includes an exemption for those 65 and older.
The Measure A election will be done entirely through the mail. Ballots will be sent to voters on April 26 and must be returned by May 25.

 


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