Tuesday, July 21, 2009


By Kevin Butler, Staff Writer | Long Beach Press-Telegram

7/21 -- LONG BEACH - Voters in the Long Beach Unified School District will be asked to approve a five-year parcel tax in November to fund education.

The Long Beach Board of Education on Monday voted, 4-0, to place the tax - $92 per parcel annually - on the ballot, arguing that the revenue is needed to offset state budget cuts.

Board member Michael Shane Ellis was absent.

The tax, which would require two-thirds voter support, would start July 1, 2010, and last for five years.

Seniors, defined as people 65 or older, and people of any age receiving Social Security disability income payments would be exempt from the tax.

Board member Felton Williams said that the district needs to bring stability to its budget.

"If a parcel tax can help us accomplish that, then I'm all for it," he said.

With 125,352 parcels in the district, a $92 per parcel rate would raise about $11.5 million annually, though the actual amount would be slightly less due to exemptions, according to LBUSD officials.

The district may have to cut nearly $100 million in the next two years under a revised budget proposal that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger released in May, according to Kim Stallings, LBUSD chief business and financial officer.

Unlike an ad valorem property tax - which is based on property value - the proposed tax would charge a flat fee per parcel, or distinct unit of land, that lies wholly or partially in district boundaries.

According to the ballot measure, the tax revenue would go toward offsetting state cuts and maintaining small class sizes, vocational and career technical job training and college prep programs.

The revenue also would help preserve arts, music, sports and after-school programs.

Board member Jon Meyer noted that the annual tax would amount to about $7.67 a month per parcel.

"Gee whiz, it costs ... $12 just to go to a movie," he added.

If approved, the measure would create the first parcel tax for LBUSD, according to Superintendent Chris Steinhauser.

Board members postponed discussion on an application from Constellation Community Charter School to renew its charter for another five years. The board will make a decision by Sept. 1, Meyer said.

No comments: