Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Local Tax Measures Add Up -Mitch Atkinson

Our current debt as a state will affect many generations to come, but this November some tax hikes can benefit the future generations.

This November, CA residents will be voting on many new taxes, and among those are local school district bonds and community college funds that are requesting a total $11.4 billion dollars in bonds over 105 districts statewide.
Temecula Valley School District (TVUSD) is one of those districts, and is asking Temecula residents to vote yes on Measure Y. According to the TVUSD, the Measure Y School Bond would be used to upgrade technology, repair and renovate aging schools and improve safety of campuses. It also states that every school in the district will receive benefits from this measure. This would cost the average homeowner $28 a year and would raise $165 million.

TVUSD Superintendent Tim Ritter said, “It’s local money for local purposes.” The funds raised by this measure would stay local and only be used by TVUSD. An independent citizen committee will be appointed in order to monitor the spending of the funds.

Residents without children may not be interested in paying the estimated average of $28 extra a year.
“I feel like every time I turn around there is another tax for schools,” said Alicia Struone, a Temecula Resident. “I don’t have any children, and I feel that parents should be the ones paying for this.”
The school district says that this bond will help create better schools, which in turn will help with property values in the community, as well as a more educated population. This bond will be on the ballot accompanied by two other state tax measures that will fund schools. Among those, Prop. 30, which will raise around $50 million for schools through increased income taxes, and sales taxes, and Prop. 38, which will raise $120 billion over the course of 12 years, which would go to schools as well.

“I don’t have any children in the school system, but I would much rather pay for a local measure because I know where the money will be spent versus a state proposition that may never give back to my community,” said Alex Sloan, Temecula resident.

Currently the TVUSD has maximized all the state funds available and is trying to catch up on the technology plan that was implemented in 2010. Among the items in this plan that they are behind on is the goal to have a student to computer ratio of 5:1 by the summer of 2013. Other items that are on the list are Wi-Fi Internet access at middle schools and high schools, and high speed wired Internet and network infrastructures at all schools.

None of the money that is raised can go towards salaries. The district will also use some of the money to fund facility upgrades and repairs that will only cost more as time goes on.

The district is having volunteers work a call center to notify Temecula residents about the measure, and to give them a brief description of the measure and what the money will go to.
As of now there is no formal organization opposing the measure, but supporters know that it is hard to ask residents without children to pay even more taxes.

“We know that not everyone will see the value in this measure, that is why we are calling residents to make sure that they know that schools can have a great impact on our community as a whole,” Said Margaret, a TVUSD Employee.

Measure Y will be on the Temecula Ballot on Nov. 6th, and will require a 55 percent supermajority vote for approval.

TVUSD voted to put this measure on the ballot in August in hopes to accomplish the goals of the technology plan outline in 2010. Due to unforeseen budget cuts, parts of the 2010 plan that were originally “funded” are now on hold due to the lack of funds.

Other districts in the area have similar measures on their local ballots:
  • Hemet: Measure U, asking for a total of $49 million
  • Perris Union: Measure T, asking for over $153 million
  • Nuevo: Measure V, asking for $4 million

Some of the biggest measures state wide are:
  • San Diego Unified: Prop. Z, $2.8 billion
  • Chaffey Joint Union: Measure P, $848 million
  • Oakland Unified: Measure J $475 million

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