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Election 2013: Guide to San Mateo County Measures P to X

| November 5, 2013
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File photo. (David McNew/Getty Images)

File photo. (David McNew/Getty Images)

It’s all about public funding in San Mateo County. Residents will decide whether to reopen several schools, pass a parcel tax and expand the utility bill. Find your polling place in San Mateo County.

School Measures

PROP P – SAN MATEO-FOSTER CITY ELEMENTARY SCHOOL DISTRICT

How the ballot reads: To improve local schools and protect high quality math, science, reading and writing instruction with funding that cannot be taken by the State, shall San Mateo-Foster City Elementary School District upgrade classrooms, science labs, and libraries, relieve school overcrowding, update classroom technology for higher 21st- century academic standards, and repair, construct, or acquire equipment, classrooms, sites and facilities by issuing $130,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, with citizen oversight, no money for administrators, and all funds staying local?

In a nutshell: This $130 million bond measure would reopen and renovate several schools. It would spend $62 million to rebuild Bowditch Middle School for fifth graders, thus easing the populations in local elementary schools. It would also spend $18 million to reopen Knolls Elementary School in San Mateo. Another $50 million would go to installing solar panels and other technologies in Foster and San Mateo cities. Opponents of the measure argue the measure disproportionately benefits Foster City.

Arguments for and against

PROP R – BELMONT-REDWOOD SHORES SCHOOL DISTRICT

How the ballot reads: Without increasing the current tax rate and to maintain excellent student achievement by protecting math, science, reading and writing programs, supporting school libraries, attracting and retaining qualified teachers, and maintaining a well-rounded curriculum, including music and art, shall Belmont-Redwood Shores Elementary School District renew its existing parcel taxes for ten years, with no funds for administrators’ salaries, exempting senior citizens and requiring independent citizen oversight, generating funds that cannot be taken by the State to benefit local schools?

In a nutshell: Do you want to renew two education parcel taxes for 10 years? The combined tax would continue to levy $174 per parcel, with an exemption for senior citizens, to fund schools.

Arguments for and against

 

PROP S – LAS LOMITAS SCHOOL DISTRICT

How the ballot reads: To repair and improve aging schools to protect quality academic instruction with funding that cannot be taken by Sacramento, shall Las Lomitas Elementary School District build classrooms for increased student enrollment, update/replace aging classrooms to meet current health/safety codes, renovate heating/electrical systems to save money, support 21st century instructional technology, acquire, repair, construct sites, facilities, equipment by issuing $60,000,000 in bonds at legal rates, with citizens’ oversight, no money for administrators, and all funds staying local?

In a nutshell: The bond measure would give Las Lomitas (K-3) in Atherton and La Entrada (4-8) in Menlo Park a $60 million bond to create new two-story buildings, eliminate 18 portable classrooms and renovate existing facilities. The district estimates that property owners would pay $30 per $100,000 of taxable property.

Arguments for and against

 

PROP W – MENLO PARK CITY SCHOOL DISTRICT

How the ballot reads: To support high quality education, avoid student overcrowding at our existing schools as enrollment continues to increase, and renovate and expand educational facilities at the O’Connor Elementary School site planned to reopen in Menlo Park’s Willows neighborhood, all as described in the Bond Project List, shall the Menlo Park City School District issue $23 million of bonds at legal interest rates, establish an independent citizens’ oversight committee, perform annual audits, and use no bond money for teacher or administrator salaries?”

In a nutshell: This measure would approve a $23 million bond to rebuild the O’Connor Elementary School in Menlo Park. The district estimates that the bond would cost property owners an average of $8.70 per $100,000 of taxable property for 15 years.

Arguments for and against

 

City Measures

PROP Q – REDUCE THE PORTOLA VALLEY UTILITY TAX

How the ballot reads: Do the People of the Town of Portola Valley adopt an ordinance that continues the reduction of the general purpose Utility Users Tax levied on telephone, gas, water and electricity, set forth in Chapter 3.32 of the Portola Valley Municipal Code, from 5.5% to 4.5% on the charges made for such utility services for a period of four years from July 1, 2014 through June 30, 2018?

In a nutshell: Do you want to reduce the utility tax from 5.5 percent to 4.5 percent for four years?

Arguments for and against

 

PROP T – INCREASE THE BUSINESS LIQUID STORAGE TAX IN BRISBANE

How the ballot reads: To pay for general municipal expenses, shall the City increase the annual business license tax for liquid storage facilities up to $115.28 per one thousand cubic feet of liquid storage capacity, and provide for an offset for sales tax revenue received ?

In a nutshell: Do you want to increase the a business license tax of $115.28 per 1,000 cubic feet of liquid storage capacity? The city attorney estimates the tax would raise $400,000 based on the capacity of current liquid storage facilities in the City of Brisbane.

Arguments for and against

 

PROP U – INCREASE FOSTER CITY’S BUSINESS LICENSE TAX

How the ballot reads: To pay for general city services enjoyed by all residents and businesses in Foster City, including services such as police, fire, parks, recreation, and repairing and maintaining the levee, lagoon, streets and other infrastructure, shall an ordinance be adopted to increase the City’s business license tax effective January 1, 2014?

In a nutshell: Do you want to increase the a business license tax over time? The money from the tax would go into the city’s general fund.

Effective Date General Contractor Specialty Contractor Solicitor All Other Businesses
Current Rate $50 $25 $25 $25
Jan. 1, 2014 $100 $50 $50 $50
Jan. 1, 2015 $150 $75 $75 $75
Jan. 1, 2016 $200 $100 $100 $100

Arguments for and against

 

PROP V – EXPAND PACIFICA’S UTILITY TAX TO TELECOMMUNICATIONS

How the ballot reads: Without raising the current 6.5% rate, and to fund fire protection; emergency services; police protection; Meals on Wheels and other senior citizen services; street, sidewalk and pothole repair; and other essential services, shall an ordinance be adopted to amend the City of Pacifica’s Utility Users Tax adding telecommunications services, requiring equal treatment regardless of technology used, maintaining senior exemptions and adding independent citizens oversight, with all funds staying in Pacifica and no funds for Sacramento?

In a nutshell: The measure would expand Pacifica’s 6.5 percent utility tax to include telecommunication services, including: video communication, text messaging, and paging services, along with telephone, cellphone and voice over Internet protocol, or VOIP, services. There is a $500 maximum cap for businesses and exemptions for senior citizens. The tax would not apply to cable and Internet access and digital downloads. Money from the tax would go to Pacifica’s general fund. The tax would expire after eight years.

Arguments for and against

 

PROP X – RENEW ATHERTON’S PARCEL TAX

How the ballot reads: To continue providing funding to maintain neighborhood police patrols and the Town’s ability to respond to emergencies, repairing and maintaining streets, and repairing and constructing storm drains, shall an ordinance be adopted to continue a Special Parcel Tax for four years and allowing for the expenditure of funds derived from such tax?

In a nutshell: This tax would renew Atherton’s parcel tax to fund police patrols, street repairs and drainage facility maintenance. Atherton’s city council would have to set the tax rate every year, up to a maximum rate (see this pdf for maximum rates). The city estimates the tax raises $1.8 million annually.

Arguments for and against

 

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About the Author ()

Lisa Pickoff-White is KQED's Senior Interactive News Producer. Her work has been honored with awards from the Online News Association, Investigative Reporters and Editors, Society of Professional Journalists and SXSW Interactive. Lisa specializes in visual journalism, including photography and data. Reach Lisa Pickoff-White at lpickoffwhite@kqed.org.

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