Friday, October 31, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Parcel tax changes could bring big battle in California

walters column sig

By
From page A11 | January 09, 2013 |

The California Legislature’s Democratic leaders want to use their newly minted supermajorities to do things that they could not do before, but are leery of doing things that might alienate voters and jeopardize those supermajorities.

They prefer, therefore, an incremental approach to using their two-thirds legislative votes, thus slowly warming voters to the exercise of their new power, rather than shocking them.

One likely way they’ll wield their new authority is a constitutional amendment to reduce the voter approval margin for local government and school district parcel taxes from two-thirds to either a simple majority or 55 percent.

It appears to be popular and they see it as an extension of lowering the vote requirement on school bonds from two-thirds to 55 percent some years back, and also a small, if significant, erosion of Proposition 13, the iconic 1978 ballot measure that made it tougher for state and local governments to levy new taxes.

Parcel taxes are a form of property tax, but instead of being based on property value, they generally impose the same dollar amount of tax on every property parcel, regardless of size or value.

Many school districts, faced with stagnant or even declining state support, have been asking local voters to approve parcel taxes with varying degrees of success.

There is, however, a complicating factor – a new state appellate court ruling that spanks school districts for deviating from the one-size-fits-all concept of parcel taxes.

Some districts have successfully asked their voters to approve differing levels of tax on different kinds of property – lower ones for homes and higher ones for commercial properties and/or taxes based on square footage of properties.

Those variations have made some parcel taxes more closely resemble value-based levies of traditional property taxes. In a case involving the Alameda Unified School District, the First District Court of Appeal said those taxes violate a law requiring “uniform” rates of parcel taxes.

If the ruling prevails in the state Supreme Court, Alameda Unified and other districts that adopted parcel tax variations may have to refund many millions of dollars in revenues to commercial landowners.

They want the Legislature, therefore, to not only lower the threshold for approving parcel taxes, but validate the more creative, albeit illegal, ways in which such taxes have been levied and, perhaps, protect them from having to make the refunds.

Responding to those demands would make writing a parcel tax amendment much more complicated because it would bring business interests, seeing it as an assault on Proposition 13, into the political equation.

It could become, in brief, the high-octane supermajority dust-up that legislative leaders want to avoid.

Dan Walters is a columnist for the Sacramento Bee. Reach him as dwalters@sacbee.com.

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | 1 comment

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

  • Rick WoodJanuary 09, 2013 - 9:31 pm

    This is a much better piece than the last one Mr. Walters wrote on this subject. This court ruling on parcel taxes is interesting. It’s likely that Alameda USD got too cute, but I hope that doesn't result in a too extreme rule the other way. If it does, the legislature should fix it. Parcel taxes should be charged uniformly, but there should be an exception allowed when one property owner has two or more parcels with a single use. Then the parcels should be taxed as one. Undevelopable parcels should also be an allowed exception and be charged less, or zero. What to do in such cases should be the decision of the public agency placing the tax measure on the ballot. Most will choose to do the work to identify and allow the exceptions. Next, if the threshold for parcel taxes is lowered, I believe it should be lowered to 55% in all cases EXCEPT for parcel taxes directed to school facility maintenance, rehabilitation, modernization, or replacement, which should be a simple majority. The reason the threshold should be lower for that purpose is school bond measures (secured by "true" property taxes) are already at 55%, and a parcel tax to care for those facilities should be less. Doing that will give a slight edge to parcel taxes for school facilities, but that's as it should be. Voters have already said as much when they passed Prop 39 in 2000 ("a few years back" as Walters says).

    Reply | Report abusive comment
.

Solano News

 
Real estate agent pens, produces movie

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Neighborhood candy hunts of the past

By Tony Wade | From Page: A2

 
Candy from sky highlights North Texas Street event

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
Vintage Fair on tap at McBride Senior Center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
Fairfield police log: Oct. 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: Oct. 29, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A12, 1 Comment

 
.

US / World

Judge approves Stockton’s bankruptcy plan

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

 
California eyes $500 billion in water spending

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 2 Comments

Marine wants new charges in Iraq war crime tossed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Roseville officer accused of criminal threats

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

Poll: Democrats leading in all statewide races

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 3 Comments

 
Man charged with murder in SWAT officer shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Teen arrested in threat at Sacramento school

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
Police make arrest in slaying of Oakland mom

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

Retrial in assault case over stray cat feeding

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 4 Comments

 
Missing California hunter roasted bugs, lizards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4, 2 Comments

Pilot identified in California jet crash

By The Associated Press | From Page: A4

 
Lawsuit: Surgical gowns let diseases pass through

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Fearing Ebola? Doctors say get a flu shot

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Questions, answers about California’s Ebola policy

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Maine in standoff with nurse over Ebola safeguards

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Relatives suspected poisoning in family’s deaths

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Pair convicted in secret $1.6 M Navy silencer deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

 
Guard troops sent to site of Hawaii lava flow

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Terminally ill woman may postpone taking her life

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment

 
Man’s own dog helps police bust him on drug charge

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Vatican admits Sistine Chapel frescoes ‘whitened’

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Israel closes Jerusalem holy site after shooting

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

Fearing uprising, Iraq militants hunt ex-police

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

 
Death penalty sought for trooper ambush suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

.

Opinion

Man’s prosecution unwarranted

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 5 Comments

 
Are we safe now?

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 18 Comments

 
Editorial Cartoons: Oct. 31, 2014

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A11

 
 
.

Living

Community Calendar: Oct. 31, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
Today in History: Oct. 31, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

My husband sends texts filled with ‘dirty talk’ to an old flame

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: A9

 
Horoscopes: Oct. 31, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: A9

.

Entertainment

Week in preview Oct. 31-Nov. 6, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B1

 
Jorge Garcia makes the most of ‘Hawaii Five-O’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1, 1 Comment

Monica Potter wants to save her show ‘Parenthood’

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Review: Jake Gyllenhaal, tightly coiled and creepy

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Exhibit on Paul Simon’s life to debut at Rock Hall

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
PBS touts 2013-14 ratings growth

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Reality TV show ‘Big Brother’ to debut in China

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
‘The View’ now under ABC News as further revamping

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

Review: ‘Sleep’ a decidedly average psych thriller

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

 
Entertainment calendar Oct. 31, 2014

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: B4

Winter’s wife has blues listening to his new album

By The Associated Press | From Page: B5

 
Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Galway Kinnell dies

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B6

 
.

Sports

 
 
Benicia fends off Vanden, 35-21

By Nick DeCicco | From Page: B7 | Gallery

New dynasty: Giants capture 3rd title in 5 years

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
Bye week helps 49ers Vernon Davis’ recovery

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Sonoma Raceway to host IndyCar Series finale in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Warriors exercise options on Barnes, Ezeli

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Mack making impact for Raiders even without sacks

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8 | Gallery

 
This date in sports history for Friday, Oct. 31, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B9

 
Prep football capsules: Week 9

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B10

.

Business

Not so sweet: Chocolate prices are set to rise

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Apple CEO publicly acknowledges that he’s gay

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11, 1 Comment | Gallery

FTC accuses Gerber of false claim on baby formula

By The Associated Press | From Page: B11

 
.

Obituaries

Oscar Lee Vezeau

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A4

 
Robert Louis Wright

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

.

Comics

Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

 
Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A8

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: A9