The Tamalpais Union High School Board of Trustees will vote on whether or not to propose an increase in parcel taxes, if they can garner enough community support, according to an announcement made at the November 14 board meeting. Parcel taxes are localized property taxes that are frequently used to fund education.
Superintendent David Yoshihara said that, based on research from the firm Whitehurst/Mosher and polling conducted by the company Godbe, the board is considering a 50-100 percent increase on current parcel taxes.
To get the measure on the ballot, the board would require four of its five members to vote yes. Before voting, the board will gauge community support with a public opinion poll by Godbe. Yoshihara explained that this parcel tax increase will be raised in an effort to counteract the increasing amount of money lost by the district each year. Yoshihara said that the district has been using savings to cover expenses, but that those savings are beginning to run dry, due to a significant increase in student enrollment. 80-90 percent of the district budget goes towards personnel, and with a larger student population, more faculty members are needed, thus the strain on district funds is greater.
“We have a large structural deficit which has materialized for many years…This year was the first time in a number of years [where] we ended up in the red,” Yoshihara said. “We had estimated we would be in the red 4.5 million [dollars]. This is for the year that just closed. When everything was finalized, we ended up at 3.8 million [dollars] in the red, so while [the district finished the year with more money] than we had predicted, [we still lost] a lot of money.”
This year, TUHSD is expected to have a deficit of 5 million dollars.
The tax measure may be on the ballot as soon as June 2018. “There are other windows that were briefly discussed but I think in terms of narrowing those opportunities, June of 2018 and November of 2018 are really where the focus is at this time,” Yoshihara said.
According to budget data for the past two years, parcel taxes have increased marginally. Recent research found that the community was in support, meaning budget plans are likely to continue.