School Board Approves Parcel Tax for March 5 Ballot

The proposed tax would not exceed $499 per property and exempts senior citizens.

A split Board of Education voted 3-2 this week to put a parcel tax on the Beverly Hills March 5 ballot.

Board President Brian Goldberg, Vice President Jake Manaster and member Noah Margo supported the motion at the Nov. 13 school board meeting. The proposed tax is not to exceed $499 per property. The tax would exempt seniors age 65 and older, and last no longer than five years. Half of all funds collected would be designated as a restricted endowment for the benefit of the Beverly Hills Unified School District.

The move comes as the district is discussing how to stem a projected $3.5 million shortfall for the 2013-14 school year.

Goldberg has been advocating a parcel tax since August as a way to help the district become more financially secure. BHUSD has seen a steady reduction in state funding over the last five years and became a basic aid district in 2010, meaning it's funded primarily by local property taxes.

"We need a parcel tax as part of a comprehensive plan to secure the future and [the] financial stability of this district," Goldberg said at the meeting.

Board members Lisa Korbatov and Lewis Hall voted against the parcel tax. Both said they didn't think the tax would pass by the necessary two-thirds majority.

Beverly Hills voters rejected a parcel tax three times between 1987 and 1991, although the measure lost by fewer than ten votes during one of those elections.

Hall noted that voters "feel very burdened at this point" with taxes. He also worried that a parcel tax could derail the board's pending effort to get community approval to raise the Measure E bond tax rate.

More than 400 cities in California have implemented parcel taxes, according to Superintendent Gary Woods. Nearby Santa Monica Unified School District has a parcel tax and holds healthy reserves, Manaster said. The board will vote on a formal resolution supporting the parcel tax at its Nov. 27 board meeting.

The parcel tax will be placed on the same ballot the city is using for the upcoming council election, this saving BHUSD the cost of printing ballots and holding an election.

Will you vote for the parcel tax on March 5? Tell us in the comments section below. 

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Gary Gorlick November 16, 2012 at 03:23 PM
Our family strongly admires the guidance of Dr. Brian Goldberg for our Beverly Hills School System. His track record to date is evidence of his exemplary guidance. We want the best for all the children in BH. They deserve the best education we can muster. Anything less would mean that we have failed them as parents and grandparents. If there are better ways to replace badly needed monies for our schools please speak up so we all can learn of them and debate their merits and demerits over this proposed choice.
Andrea Fine November 16, 2012 at 04:05 PM
Gary, I respect your opinion and I too share your love for our schools. Here are some ways to replace baldly needed monies: 1. Stop spending $1.5 million on lawyers, lobbyists and PR firms (billing at $900/hr) regarding Metro. 2. Has President Goldberg even sat down with Metro to work out a compromise? Has he negotiated a multi million dollar fee to tunnel under our schools. 3. Start talking about curriculum and academics at the board meetings. 4. Work out a mechanism where we can increase our Natl. Merit Scholars from its current "all time low". 5. Show an accounting and be transparent with the community about the bond fund expenditures... 6. Let the FAC Commissioners do their job and not simply be a rubber stamp for the Board Members. 7. Look at a budgeting model that puts the funding into the classroom and children and not into the scores of redundant consultants. 8. Develop a plan to market our kids to four year colleges instead of promoting SMCC as an acceptable academic goal to achieve. 9. Sell the $1.5 million dollar Superintendent's home and let him find his own place to live. We need to bring back the sizzle back into our academic hunger... not the sizzle into smearing Metro and lining the pockets of $900/hr lawyers and lobbyists.
Laurie Lande November 16, 2012 at 06:21 PM
@Andrea Fine, We all are entitled to have different opinions on the school board's actions and to criticize their votes. But all of the board members are putting much time into their jos without pay, so I would prefer readers refrain from personal attacks. In addtition, while many residents do pay low property taxes because they inherited their homes, that is not the case for VP Jake Manaster, whom you mention above. In fact, he spoke about his large property tax bill at a study session earlier this week.
leeving November 17, 2012 at 12:41 AM
I don’t think they are meant as personal attacks but more frustration. Paid or not bad decisions are just that. Remember the definition of insanity (doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different outcome) The Board can’t expect to keep throwing money at their problems expecting to them to disappear, and when the money runs out to keep asking the community to bail them out. I’m sure when Measure E was sold to the community it didn't mention using that money to fight Metro or Attorney’s fees. So here we are again another bail out, a Parcel Tax again we are expected as a community to trust this Board and it's current administration to use this Parcel Tax for what it is intended for. Words you will never hear from Beverly Hills Unified School District Board members say: We were wrong we made a mistake. (PARALYSIS OF ANALYSIS)
DoughBoy November 20, 2012 at 01:21 AM
This is a regressive tax, hitting those who can least afford it the hardest. Could $500 be a hardship in Beverly Hills? Yes, for those of us work hard to make ends meet and stay here for the promise of a good education for our kids. That said, personal attacks on Board members are not productive - although i agree with the sentiment that we're wasting money on lawyers and PR hacks. There is a tipping point at which young families will assess that the burdens outweigh the benefits, then we'll "vote with our feet" and leave BH with an aging, aloof population. In the mean time, we can "vote with our heads" by rejecting this regressive tax, and continue to encourage the Board to get back on track and manage the district's budget wisely.


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