Measure S question decided Tuesday
Voters Tuesday will determine if property owners should generate $8 million for the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District over the next four years.
Measure S, a $60 annual parcel tax, will be on the ballot for the nearly 16,000 registered voters in the school district boundaries in Placer, Nevada and El Dorado counties.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. in Truckee.
About $2 million annually is expected to be generated from the parcel tax which is spent on academic enhancements in the Tahoe-Truckee Unified School District. Measure S pays for music, art, science, physical education and computer programs, equipment and teachers; counselors, librarians, school supplies, library books, audiovisual materials and vocational education equipment.
Measure S – at $48 per parcel – first passed in 1989 by 74 percent of the vote and was renewed in 1993 by 76.2 percent. It must pass by two-thirds of the voters. The parcel tax was increased to $60 because of student growth in the school district.
On the ballot, the argument for the tax says that California ranks 41st in the nation for per pupil spending and many school districts in California have been forced to eliminate all but the most basic programs and reduce funding for equipment, supplies and maintenance.
“Without adequate state money, we must look to local sources for funding. Developer fees and Measure D help fund the district’s facility needs. Measure S helps fund the district’s program and supply needs,” the ballot says.
Karla Peterson, co-chair of the Measure S Citizens Review Committee, said that she is cautiously optimistic that the measure will pass.
“The committee is hopeful. We’ve had strong community support, but it’s always difficult to pass a tax by two-thirds,” Peterson said.
The Measure S committee plans to call its supporters on Sunday and Monday to remind them to vote. On Tuesday, the committee will check to see which supporters haven’t voted as of 5 p.m. and then call them to remind them to vote before the polls close.
Usually in special elections for a single issue, the people who tend to show up to vote are the ones who support the issue, Peterson said.
Peterson said Measure S’ “Yes + S = Kids” campaign has been financed through $26,000 raised during the Measure S committee’s fund-raising party at Alpine Meadows last October.
With Measure S, there is no organized opposition to the tax. No one submitted an argument against the tax to be printed on the ballot. However, there have been several letters to the editors of the Tahoe World and other local newspapers stating views against the tax.
Tahoe City resident Nick Panzer is one vocal opponent of Measure S.
He believes that the money raised by Measure S would not be needed if there was less bureaucracy at the state Department of Education and more local control over how money is spent. He says the community should vote against Measure S and instead write their legislators about state education bureaucracy and spending.
“There is no way to tell if my position could swing voters and which way,” Panzer said Monday. “I get feedback but it tends to be more from people who planned to vote no anyway.”
He said a grassroots letter writing campaign could sway legislators to reform state education policies, but he’s unsure if the defeat of Measure S would catch Sacramento’s attention.
The election will cost the Tahoe Truckee Unified School District about $30,000 to $35,000, according to Monty Folsom, the district’s business manager.
After the Measure S vote is final Tuesday, supporters of the North Tahoe Fire Protection District will be getting their campaign into gear to pass Measure B, which renews an assessment already in place, according to Steve Swigard, who is on the fire district’s citizens committee. Property owners already pay a residential or commercial fire assessment; the vote only changes the assessment into a parcel tax in compliance with the rules of Proposition 218.
While the Measure B campaign has been politely quiet during the Measure S campaign, Swigard said the school tax’s outcome shouldn’t affect the fire department tax.
“I don’t think one way or another it should have any affect on Measure B. Measure B is a health and safety issue and it’s extremely important,” Swigard said.
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