Diligence necessary in passing tax proposal (dk) Locals look to North Shore for advice
December 5, 2003
Some in Lake Tahoe Unified School District take comfort that their North Shore neighbor was able to pass a parcel tax that now generates more than $2 million annually.
But those in Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District said it took months before the school board passed a resolution to put the matter on the ballot.
Debra Darby was a school board member for Tahoe-Truckee when the first parcel tax was approved in 1989 by more than two-thirds of the 7,000 or so registered voters.
Darby, who no longer serves on the board, guessed the district campaigned feverishly for six to seven months making sure there was community support for the $48 tax per parcel before the board voted on it. After the vote, it went to a ballot measure and passed.
There were three fund-raisers and talks to service groups such as Rotary and Soroptimist. Phone surveys went out to gauge how much homeowners were willing to spend and what areas they would support. Some board members went door-to-door.
People were receptive to more nurses and counselors but support wavered with the mention of athletics.
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When the board passed the tax proposal after several months of research, campaigning didn’t stop.
“Once it’s on the ballot, that’s just the beginning of your work,” Darby said.
A committee of parents, community members, teachers and district representatives determined where the funding would go.
“What they came up with was increased music, art, (physical education) at the lower levels, counseling, nurses,” said Wanda Stewart, a budget technician for the district. “They fund positions at the elementary school for PE, art, music, etc. What they do is supplement, they don’t supplant what the general fund would offer. In other words, it wouldn’t pay for a teacher that the general fund would.”
Darby has served on LTUSD’s school board in the past, before her time on Tahoe-Truckee’s board. She wished her old district luck but was concerned with LTUSD putting the parcel tax on the fast track.
“That’s pretty quick,” she said.
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