Watchdog: taxpayers need to watch Antioch School Board

Watchdog-LogoIt behooves taxpayers to keep a close watch on the Antioch Unified School District Board.

On December 18th Joy Motts, Board President, put discussion of the anti-Prop. 13 resolution by Evolve-ca on the agenda. Evolve-ca is an activist group who’s attempting to persuade local school boards and city councils to support removing Prop. 13 protections for business property. They falsely claim that homeowners are paying a greater share of the total property tax today. That’s false. The percentage paid by non homeowner occupied property accounted for 58.16% in 1978-79 and increased to 60.26% of all assessments in 2011-12, meaning the percentage paid by homeowners has declined! Fortunately, thanks to valuable information provided to the Board by the Contra Costa Taxpayers Assoc. the board tabled the resolution.

Now the Board is once again contemplating putting a parcel tax on the ballot. The only difference between their 2008 and 2012 parcel tax measures and the one they are contemplating now is that the prior ballot measures were structured as school facilities improvement district bond measures, excluded residents in southeast Antioch who pay a Mello Roos tax and required only 55% of those voting to approve the measures for them to pass. (Both passed.)

This time the district is considering putting a parcel tax on the ballot which will apply uniformly to all taxpayers or real property within the district, exempt Seniors/SSI/disabled and permit an inflation adjustment. As of 2009, bonding capacity for unified school districts was 2.5% of assessed value, tax rate limitations $60 per $100,000. Revenues can be used for capital facilities or operations. This type of tax measure requires 2/3 voter approval.

Taxpayers should not approve another AUSD parcel tax! The AUSD is going to get additional money under Prop. 30 and from the Governor’s budget which repays school districts for Prop. 98 money it withheld during the state “crisis”. In addition, the district still has a considerable and controversial real estate portfolio. When I stated they should sell some of their holdings prior to the their previous tax measures, I was told that state law required the district to send back any money from the sale of properties until the district was no longer considered to be in a “hardship” status due to prior mismanagement. Apparently the district is no longer in a hardship status because they just sold 191 acres of the Moller Ranch property for $305,000. (The district paid $2.6 million for 206 acres in 1996).

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