Local Issues to Appear on Ballot for March 3

The California presidential primary election is scheduled for Tuesday, March 3, but there are issues on the state, county and local measures on the ballot that Alamedans will also vote on.

Alameda City Measure A
Measure A is an Alameda Unified School District (AUSD) special parcel tax measure that intends to use the new revenue to “attract, recruit and retain teachers and school employees.” The new tax revenue will also be used to fund academic programs like reading, writing, math, arts and sciences; attract teachers in hard-to-fill areas, such as special education and math; and support public charter schools.

If the tax is approved by two-thirds of voters, property owners will pay 26.5 cents per building square foot — capped at $7,999. Vacant parcels will be taxed a flat rate of $299. Exemptions may be granted to parcel owners who are older than 65 or receive certain social security benefits.

The new tax is expected to generate $10.5 million in new annual revenue for AUSD. If Alameda voters approve the parcel tax on March 3, teachers will receive an additional 1 percent raise retroactive to January 2020 and an 8 percent increase for 2020-21. The tax is due to expire by June 2027.

AUSD, students and parents are heavily in favor of the new tax. However, some Island residents are weary of another tax that supports the school district. The proposed tax would be on top of Measure B1, which Alameda voters passed in November 2016 to benefit local schools and assesses property owners at 32 cents per building square foot, as well as Measure I, a schools facilities bond passed in November 2014 that sets a tax of approximately $60 per $100,000 of a property’s assessed value.

Resident Jerry Yarbrough asked, “All children deserve a great education, but how much are we expected to give the Alameda public schools for our students to get one?” in a letter to the editor in the Alameda Sun.

Alameda County Measure C 
Measure C is the Alameda County Cares for Kids Act. The measure intends to create a new half-cent sales tax on transactions for two critical measures involving child welfare. Twenty percent of the additional tax revenue will go toward the Pediatric Health Care (PHC) account, while 80 percent will go toward the Child Care, Preschool, and Early Education (CPE) account. 

PHC will expand free and low-cost health care and emergency services at UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospital Oakland. CPE will increase the number of children eligible for certain pre-kindergarten and after school educational services. It will also increase wages and workforce development for child-care workers.

The tax will last 20 years if approved. It is expected to generate $150 million in annual funds. The tax needs a two-thirds approval vote to be enacted.

California Proposition 13
California Prop. 13 is designed to generate $15 billion in general obligation bonds for school and college facility upgrades such as retrofitting and asbestos cleaning. Nine billion will be allocated for preschool and K-12 schools, $4 billion for universities, and $2 billion for community colleges.

Opponents are weary of the debt Prop. 13 will incur. The proposition will cost state taxpayers $740 million a year for the next 35 years. That is $26 billion; $15 billion for the bond and $11 billion in interest.

Prop. 13 addresses California’s urgent need to modernize its facilities. Funds for improving infrastructure will be more evenly distributed instead of the first-come, first-served process that favored wealthier districts. Buildings with public safety and health issues will be prioritized. The proposition needs two-thirds approval vote to pass.