California School District Parcel Tax Elections
Parcel tax elections raise revenues through imposing an additional tax based on the characteristics of a parcel of land. The taxes are a form of property tax, which must be paid by the owners of parcels of real estate. However, unlike standard property taxes, which are based on the value of the property, a parcel tax is an assessment based on the characteristics of the parcel. School districts have created assessments that range from flat amounts per parcel to assessments based on parcel lot square footage or building square foot. Some school districts have assessed residential parcels using one method and non-residential using another method.
School districts can levy this type of non-ad valorem tax if a supremajority of two-thirds of the voters approve. (A non-ad valorem tax is one that is not based on the value of the property that is being taxed.) California is the only state that allows parcel taxes as a method of funding schools.
Origins of the Parcel Tax
In the 1970s the responsibility of financing public schools moved from the local level to the State based on the Serrano v Priest court decision. In 1978 California passed Prop 13 which essentially turned property taxes into a state tax. As a consequence, school districts lost control of its largest source of discretionary income. Section 4 of Prop 13 allowed local agencies like school districts to levy parcel taxes subject to the approval of two-thirds of the voters. The first parcel tax was enacted in 1983. In 2013, EdSource published a comprehensive review of school parcel taxes.
Recap of Parcel Tax Elections
1983 to 1989 - 31 of 80 (39%) parcel tax elections were successful
1990 to 1999 - 88 of 155 (57%) parcel tax elections were successful
2000 to 2009 - 141 of 242 (58%) parcel tax elections were successful
2010 - 17 of 39 (44%) parcel tax elections were successful
2011 - 18 of 27 (67%) parcel tax elections were successful
2012 - 27 of 41 (66%) parcel tax elections were successful
Total to date, 322 successful parcel tax elections out of 584 elections.
Total Success rate is 55%. However location makes a difference.
Location of Parcel Tax Elections through 2010
|District||Free/Reduced Meals %|
|Alum Rock Union Elementary||82.2%|
|Mt Pleasant Elementary||73.3%|
|West Contra Costa Unified||65.7%|
|San Francisco Unified||56.8%|
If you have any additional questions you can contact me at email@example.com. My research database contains the results from over 500 elections since 1983.
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