School district will ask voters for help
December 9, 2003
About 13,000 registered voters in Lake Tahoe Unified School District will have an opportunity April 13 to decide whether a six-year $60 parcel tax will save the district from further program cuts, staff reductions and possible school closures.
Approximately 53,981 parcels are taxable in the district. If passed by two-thirds majority, the tax will provide an annual unrestricted income of $3.2 million. The money will be used to retain and enhance library aides, music programs, experienced staff, physical education specialists, class-size reduction, counselors, nurses and psychologists.
“It would be a travesty to have to lose these programs because I think they are the essence of the community,” said Wendy David, who was elected board president.
The school board had one of two tax resolutions to vote on. The one that was passed taxed all 32.055 parcels that are designated time shares.
The other resolution would have made exempt the 7,698 time-share parcels that are bulk billed.
For example, parcel owners who own 25 time shares in one building but choose to be billed once instead of 25 times or more are bulk billed.
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The second resolution may have sweetened the proposal or it may have created anger and a possible discriminatory lawsuit.
Some parcel owners might see more than an increase of $60 per year. A full owner of a condominium at Marriott Grand Residence that usually is sold at one-quarter intervals will get four $60 bills, said El Dorado County Assessor Tim Holcomb.
Holcomb was placed on speaker phone to answer questions from the board and audience.
The passage of the resolution culminated a rush of meetings and phone calls with the public, attorneys and county officials. A survey conducted last week tabulated that only 39 percent of 400 community members would support a $60 per parcel tax.
More people supported a $60 tax than a $100 tax. The district could have gone lower but have would risked remaining in the red.
“We’d be telling the community to help us but we’d be cutting programs,” Superintendent Diane Scheerhorn said.
Statistically parcel taxes for financially struggling school districts have a 50 percent passing rate. The district will be in a campaign crunch from now until April 13.
“It’s going to be a challenge but you have a lot of people ready to work,” teacher Lisa Huard said.
– E-mail William Ferchland at firstname.lastname@example.org.