ALAMEDA (CBS / AP) — In a closely watched election, Alameda residents are voting Tuesday on a local property tax that school officials say is needed to avert widespread teacher layoffs and campus closures on the island city.

Alameda is one of at least four California districts holding parcel-tax elections Tuesday to raise money for cash-strapped schools. More school districts are planning to follow suit later this year as they prepare for deep cuts in state funding.

Alameda is voting on Measure A less than a year after a similar measure fell just short of the two-thirds majority required to approve a parcel tax.

If Measure A is approved, Alameda property owners will pay some of the highest school parcel taxes in California.

The ballot measure would tax each parcel at a rate of 32 cents per square foot of building space and cap the maximum tax at $7,999. For example, the owner of a 2,000-square foot home would pay $640 a year in school taxes.

Measure A, which would replace two existing parcel taxes, would raise about $12 million annually to maintain small class sizes, high school athletics, Advanced Placement classes and after-school programs, among other things.

If it doesn’t pass, Alameda school officials say the 9,500-student district will be forced to close several schools, lay off teachers and school employees, and increase K-3 class sizes to 32 students per class.

Measure A supporters say those cuts will drive away families, hurt property values and change the character of Alameda, which is known for its strong neighborhood schools.

“The cuts to the school system will be relatively catastrophic,” said Michael Robles-Wong, who chairs the Yes on A campaign. “Right now we have great schools, and they are in fact one of the things that people move to Alameda for.”

But opponents say Measure A’s $7,999 cap benefits large property owners at the expense of homeowners and small business owners.

“It favors big businesses at the expense of the little guy,” said David Howard, an organizer for the No on A campaign.

Howard said the school district needs to cut costs and operate more efficiently.

“With their tax, they’re trying to fund the status quo, which is not sustainable in today’s world,” Howard said.

Other school parcel tax elections are being held Tuesday in the Brisbane Elementary School District, Santa Clara Unified School District and Tahoe Truckee Unified School District.

If approved, school parcel taxes would increase $23 in Brisbane and $37 in Tahoe Truckee. Santa Clara property owners would pay $19 per parcel.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services may have contributed to this report.)

Comments (7)
  1. my name only says:

    Oakland probably has the highest parcel taxes in the Bay Area. With these extortionary parcel taxes, my tax rate on a per sq. ft. basis is twice as much as for my home in unincorporated parts of Alameda County. It’s time to sell to get the hell out of this s***hole called Oakland and buy in neighboring cities where property taxes are lower.

  2. Roger Craig says:

    Need to lay off some teachers and get back to the basics instead of coddling the children…..

  3. mechanic says:

    I cannot afford the extra $500+ in taxes! …… can you???? Nip this in the bud!

  4. Ggg says:

    The proposed tax in alameda is ridiculous. It punishes people who have larger homes. My mom bought her house in the 70’s when homes were really cheap. She can’t afford more property taxes. Usually, I am all for the schools but that is an unfair tax.

  5. Joe says:

    more taxes!!! make the parents pay for it. they are the ones having the kids. not single people who own homes. Last time I checked they are the ones getting the tax credits evey year for having the childern. why should the single younger home owners pay for thier kids to go school

  6. Ggg says:

    ugh, i just read that this stupid tax might have passed so i need to comment again.
    alameda needs a reality check. a lot of districts are changing from a 20:1 ratio to a 32:1 ratio. if they really want to start saving money, they need to increase class size. yes it sucks but it’s necessary. my mom already put 2 kids through the alameda school system over 14 years ago and she shouldn’t have to pay unfairly high taxes for other people’s kids. this tax is not fair at all. if they had chosen a uniform amount for everyone to pay then fine but telling people with larger homes they have to pay more is BS. AND before anyone tries to reply to this comment saying “well if they can afford to buy a large house then that’s what they get”- my mom bought her house in 1979 for $60,000. a lot of the older homes were purchased back when homes were affordable. my mom cannot afford this tax. the school district needs to figure out other ways to save money without gouging the residents.

  7. Robert says:

    20:1 ratio is absurd. A 25:1 ratio would solve nearly all budget problems. Just vote NO on Parcel Taxes!

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