Sunday, September 14, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Do you want another tax?

By
From page A11 | March 20, 2014 |

Fairfield-Suisun’s school board heard last month from a consultant on a possible parcel tax. This tax will be used to fund programs that were curtailed when budgets got tight during the past couple of years. It will be paid by property owners within the district’s boundaries.

Step One of the campaign is to see if there’s support for the tax. The school district has hired a company to survey at least 400 households, at a cost of $15,000 to $20,000. The survey is being done by phone. In case you get that phone call, here are things to think about now.

First, look at your current property tax statement. Do you want another $50 to $100 added to what you’re already paying? If you rent, don’t think you’re escaping. Your landlord is going to put his tax increase into your rent.

Second, look at what the district wants to do with the new revenue. It’s sure to be quite a wish list. Should taxpayers be tapped again, for some things that benefit a few students and teachers, and some that ought to be done elsewhere?

Third, one trustee opined that seniors might be exempted from the tax; that might encourage them to vote for the tax. Maybe. But wise seniors understand that they’ll just be pushing the tax onto their children, grandchildren and their younger neighbors.

Let’s talk about real solutions to this perpetual money crunch.

One – and the best – is for the state to stop confiscating our dollars. Years ago, it promised to take care of our schools – and roads and police, for those old enough to remember – if we gave them the taxes. It’s never fully kept those promises; that’s why we keep doing this tax dance. We need to reverse course. Let us keep our money and we’ll take care of our own schools and roads.

Two, let’s get real about wages and benefits. Here, as in most liberal states, employee compensation is driving governments into insolvency. Every study on compensation puts California’s government workers among the highest-paid in the nation. Many, especially high-up administrators, are paid far more than their contemporaries in private industry or the military. Citizens have to tell elected officials, “Stop rubber-stamping those increases and consider what you’re doing to the rest of us.”

Think about all this . . . before the phone rings.

John Takeuchi is a resident of Fairfield and president of the Central Solano Citizen/Taxpayer Group. Reach him at John Takeuchi taksan@comcast.net.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 28 comments

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  • CD BrooksMarch 20, 2014 - 6:48 am

    Mr. Takeuchi, I agree administrators make too much and the "pay them so we can get the best" is a thorn in my side, always has been. I never complain about pensions and retirement packages because I receive them as many folks here do, and as I have stated on numerous occasions, I was promised those when I went to work and not only earned, but deserve them. I am also on record here as saying I would pay more taxes for a specific purpose but school is not one of them.

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  • patrickMarch 20, 2014 - 2:08 pm

    overall state-local tax burden all states.--ca was rated # 7 highest in 2004. In 2010 ca was rated # 4 highest in the country. With a little work the democrats will attain # 1. that is their goal. TO BE # ONE. ----LOOK WHAT IS HAPPENING IN ILLINOIS

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  • Teach5thMarch 20, 2014 - 7:01 am

    We are currently planning for the full implementation of Common Core standards next year. The standards are being viewed as though they're something exciting and new. They're not, really. They're just narrowing the things which must be taught at each grade level so that the students can really have an opportunity to learn the material before moving to the next standard. This, of course, means that students need to have either I-pads, Chrome Books, or computers in order to be able to look up information and/or test. Oh, and we also need big screen t.v.s (monitors that the whole class can see), projectors, and more in order to teach the students. Gone are the days of chalkboards and books; computers are the answer to everything (except when the Internet goes down at a site). All of this demands more from the taxpayer. When/if you visit a school look at all the new and shiny objects that are taking your hard-earned tax dollars. To be honest, I think Common Core might be a good thing. But, I am concerned about the waste of taxpayer dollars ever time someone comes up with a new (must have) idea.

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  • patrickMarch 20, 2014 - 2:24 pm

    8 month old babies love new and shiny objects. If you give school children computers and the ability to text. they will not learn a thing. what's wrong with paper and pencils so they actually have to work.

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  • The MisterMarch 20, 2014 - 8:29 am

    They'll keep taking as long as it's easy to do. The few people who turn out to vote make it pretty easy.

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  • rlw895March 20, 2014 - 9:34 am

    And therein lies the problem: Alienation. "They" are "we." Our government is not some foreign force or autocracy. At least not yet. And it won't become so if people see it for what it is--our collective effort. We lose if too many people throw up their hands and say: "They" did it!

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  • mike kirchubelMarch 20, 2014 - 9:11 am

    John, your line:"Let's keep our money and we'll take care of our own schools and roads." needs a bit of 'splainin'. What parts of government should we dismantle and take care of ourselves? How do we take care of these things ourselves? Do we all go out and buy a steamroller to patch the street in front of our own home? My garage is already too full to store the equipment needed to fix my street. Do we all homeschool? I have a job that takes me from home most days.

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  • rlw895March 20, 2014 - 9:36 am

    I agree. Volunteerism burns out fast as the workload grows.

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  • Jason KnowlesMarch 20, 2014 - 9:14 am

    Proposition 13 really hamstrung the state in terms of providing funding for school via property taxes. I understand homeowners' reluctance to be taxed even more, but perhaps a revision of Prop. 13, not a full-blown 180, but a revision, is due. Maybe that would eliminate the need for these nickel and dime taxes.

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  • rlw895March 20, 2014 - 9:55 am

    Prop 98 was supposed to protect schools from the worst effects of Prop 13, and it's worked, more or less. Prop 13 still needs to be rolled back or modified in many ways; it was not born perfect from the brown of Jarvis and Gann. The cure they foisted upon us was far worse than the disease.

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  • DanielMarch 20, 2014 - 10:34 am

    Kirchy, CD and Porno love taxes (their anthem is the Beatles song The Taxman), the higher the merrier, they love politicians spending in the guise of helping the poor even though the rich will continue to pay whatever they want to with the tax system that is in place no matter how much the Demos tout how high they allegedly want to raise taxes on the rich. The Demos just want to pretend that they're Robbing Hoods knowingly full we'll that unless the tax system is changed, that the rich will pay whatever they want to, if anything, it's all a political game for low information voters to keep checking away at the "Ds" on their ballots.

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  • CD BrooksMarch 20, 2014 - 10:42 am

    Daniel, you're wrong as usual. I prefer the Mr. Practical tax plan, toss it and start over! But until then, as I have stated on numerous occasions here, I would gladly pay a tax for a specific purpose. My choice would be a fully staffed full time Traffic Division..

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  • rlw895March 20, 2014 - 5:09 pm

    D: We finally agree on something: Our tax system is too regressive. Yet how are you going to fix that if you won't support any government effort to do so?

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  • mike kirchubelMarch 20, 2014 - 5:18 pm

    RLE,the Beatles' Taxman song complained about a 95% tax rate. "There's one for you, ninteen for me." That's well worth complaint.

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  • patrickMarch 22, 2014 - 1:04 pm

    what did they do with the lottery money

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  • rlw895March 23, 2014 - 4:04 am

    It's hard to believe anyone still asks that question, it's been answered so many times.

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  • patrickMarch 23, 2014 - 1:40 pm

    Funds from Lottery revenue are divided into two parts, though all of it ends up in the general fund. Most of the money can be used for any purpose, including teacher salaries. The rest is restricted and can only be used to purchase instructional classroom materials. The money cannot be used to buy property, build schools or fund research. This year, about $3.6 million came into the general fund for Lodi Unified, with just under $500,000 restricted. Out of the general portion, $10 per student is set aside for each school site. The total amount is based on average daily attendance. In the budget, the money appears under "Other State Revenue." It totals about 2 percent of the general fund. The district doesn't keep track of how those specific dollars are used once they enter the general fund. Tim Hern, chief business officer, says the income has stayed pretty consistent over the years, though it has never been quite the revenue stream that was promised. "In today's economy, it makes a difference so we rely on it," said Hern. It is real money, but most schools don't know exactly where it goes. Often the money goes into a general fund for library books, computers or other classroom materials. Students at Millswood Middle School use their daily planners to keep track of homework and assignments. Funds from the California Lottery provided the $4,000 to dole them out at the beginning of the school year. "We receive a whopping $8,000 from Lottery funds. Half of that is spent on the school planners the students get at the beginning of the school year. The other approximately $4,000 was spent on a teacher computer and projector," wrote Sheree Flemmer, principal. The reach of Lottery funds doesn't go much farther in Galt. Galt Joint Union High School District is budgeted to receive over $250,000 in unrestricted funds and another $39,000 in restricted funds. The income totals about 1.6 percent of the budget, according to Audrey Kilpatrick, chief business official for the district. The high school district uses their funds to support operating budgets for school sites, technology and maintenance departments and to pay substitute teachers. Restricted funds go to adopt and update textbooks.

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  • Rudy MadronichMarch 20, 2014 - 11:05 am

    Can any one comment on this if the schools need money is it not in the best interest of all of the people living in the Fairfield/Suisun School District to help educate the student population. If that is true then why is it only the property owners that have to pay for and bare the burden of this bond I thing if this will benefit every one then every one should have to pay for this bond debt. Not just the property owners.

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  • rlw895March 20, 2014 - 11:20 am

    RM: Often public agencies are limited as to what and how they can tax. There is no perfect answer. But the property tax makes a lot of sense for schools because good schools enhance property values. Parcel taxes do not fall on property value, but are far more flexible. An agency may customize the definition of a taxable parcel to exempt non-residential, for example, or to exempt vacant land that is not buildable. A blend of both is probably the best approach.

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  • Rudy MadronichMarch 20, 2014 - 11:49 am

    rlw895 So why should some one that will not have to pay for that bond be allowed to vote on that bond. Most people will vote for the bond and why you may ask, BECAUSE THEY WILL NOT HAVE TO PAY FOR IT. Let me ask you this are you a home owner? If you are would you vote for this bond? I am a home owner and i will vote no on this or any school bond because i already pay to much in taxes how about we even out the burden and have every one pay for the school bond then i would be all for this bond.

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  • CD BrooksMarch 20, 2014 - 12:14 pm

    Mr. Madronich, I won't vote for it either because I like my plan better. It would be a good education for kids to see their law-breaking parents get lit up!

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  • rlw895March 20, 2014 - 5:17 pm

    RM: For clarification, a parcel tax is not a school bond. Parcel taxes are used for pay-as-you-go type expenses, such as teachers, supplies, maintenance, etc. Sometimes (usually) the funds are designated for something specific, and sometimes they go into the district's general funds. I would pay for a school bond or tax even though I have no children in school because I believe good schools enhance a community. It's debatable whether renters avoid the taxes. They do pay rent, and the landlord would undoubtedly try to pass on a parcel tax to the degree possible. Nonresidential property can be exempted from a parcel tax.

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  • Rich GiddensMarch 20, 2014 - 12:22 pm

    Why should our taxes be hiked to support a non-competitive RICO scam called ''the public schools of California?". You people should have paid attention in school because it's very apparent you haven't received an education! Did it ever occur to you that perhaps your thug government has wasted your money on unions and gross ineficiencies like the former superintendent's bloated piggish salary? How many kids of illegal aliens are in your horrible schools? Why is it that after dumping billions into your scam, test scores can't appreciably rise and your failed pointed heads in Sacramento had to scrap the annual STAR testing when that metric showed no progress was being made? Why is it that your schools and local government are endlessly recycling expelled students from school to school while de facto fulfilling the role of ''parent'' and ''provider'' with meals and transportation endlessly served to indigents as taxpayers are told to fork over more and more for the endless cycle of ''we need more money sucker''? Get me out of this horrible rotten state of stupid people and rotten government!

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  • Typical County WorkerMarch 20, 2014 - 3:31 pm

    The problem with these taxes, is that the money goes to the administrators and staff, and not to the kids in the classroom. FFSUSD has no charter schools because the money would have to go to the kids. Throw money at the problem instead of fixing it. The administrators and staff don't want to fix it because their pockets would get thinner. Earmarking funds and oversight committees are a joke. You just move the money around and oversight committees are only advisory, they have no power.

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  • mike kirchubelMarch 20, 2014 - 4:15 pm

    As usual, a load of sowell from the "i don't want to pay any tax but don't take away any services" crowd. Where are john's answers to the questions posed? Any thinking adult knows you don't get something for nothing. I guess the answer is for everyone to buy a gun, a bag of asphalt, a fire truck, and a bunch of text books and let the games begin. My only the strongest survive to carry on. Oh, and may the odds be ever in your favor.

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  • JagMarch 20, 2014 - 8:47 pm

    How about if we just do away with the tax and we pay for our own schools that way schools can compete and I will have the choice what school I want to send my kids to, yes I know that creates a problem (dare I say it) for the poor (not my problem) they can still go to those union lead government schools and we can have real choice

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  • rlw895March 23, 2014 - 4:11 am

    J: The state constitution guarantees every child have access to a free education. (I know it isn't "free;" that just means at no cost to the student.)

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  • Save AmericaMarch 20, 2014 - 9:34 pm

    Put all registered Democrats in detainment camps...and pull out their gold teeth.

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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